Japan, Hiroshima, 27 – 30 August 2016

I flew from Seoul to Hiroshima and for the first time ever had my luggage checked by Japanese Customs at the Airport. Well they removed all the contents from my suitcase and X-rayed it, never checked the contents or my backpack, very strange. At the Airport, stop at the Information counter and buy a Tourist pass for 3 days for 1000 Yen, this gives you free public transport and discounts at various attractions. First discount is for the bus to the city 1,210 Yen, takes about an hour, the airport is miles away.

Next stop an ATM where the maximum withdrawal was Y50,000, then a phone shop, after a couple of false starts I found one that sold pre-paid SIM’s. Japan has some very restrictive rules when it comes to SIM cards, it is illegal for a non-resident to be sold a Voice SIM card, only Data is allowed and pre-paid cards are not sold by every phone shop. They are comparatively expensive but this place had a special deal Y980 for 1 or 2 weeks with unlimited data and the first 100Mb per day at 4G speeds. I bought a 2 week pack and a 1 week pack, both were the same price, total inc tax came to Y2,116 for 3 weeks. The guy was very helpful, first testing my phone to make sure it was compatible and then activating the SIM for me, you do it online and it is instantaneous, no waiting. Once the 2 weeks expires I will have to swap out the SIM and activate the second one myself, complicated….. but it is very fast and works everywhere.

Note: South Korea and Japan only have 3G and 4G networks, 2G has been completely phased out so standard SMS which uses 2G GSM does not work in these countries. If you try to send an SMS using your foreign SIM card to a local, it will say sent and you will get charged for it but they will not receive the message.

Next food and I went into the first restaurant I saw and the guy at the counter showed me a machine and waved his hands around. On closer inspection I saw a menu, you select the items you want and pay the machine, it ejects a ticket for each item, you take them and sit down at a table, the waiter comes and collects the tickets off you and brings back the food within 2 minutes, quite amazing.

Hiroshima – the first city to have an atomic bomb dropped on it, this happened at 08:15 am on 6 August 1945. Population 1.1 million has a small town feel to it, trams are the most convenient way to get around, home to the Hiroshima Okonomiyaki, people are helpful and patient with tourists, though very few speak English.

Day trip to Miyajima Island – It takes about an hour on the tram to get to the Miyajima ferry and then a 10 minute ride on the boat. Deer wandering the streets, the Itsukushima Shrine and a cable car ride up the mountain are some of the attractions.

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