What a day! It all began with an early start, heading south on the train to the port town of Onomichi. Once there we hired bicycles and took a quick ferry over to the first island to begin our journey. The Shimanami Kaido is a 75 kilometre road passing over several small islands in the Seto Inland Sea. However due to time constraints we only cycled about half of it before jumping on a ferry back to the mainland.
It was a really interesting ride, quite industrial in parts with boat yards and small villages. The highlight however was the varied and huge bridges connecting the islands which we were able to cycle over.
As it didn’t take as long as expected to do half of the track, so we decided to nip back down to Hiroshima to have an early dinner of our favourite okonomiyaki restaurant We forgot that today was Obama’s big visit until we were stuck on a bus in traffic going in the direction of the Peace Park.
We got off the bus and walked the remainder of the way to “Ron” restaurant in Okonomi-mura. Our friendly chef from last time, who we now know as Yukina, was surprised to see us and flattered when we told her we’d made the trip. She proceeded to make such a fuss, chatting away while feeding us homemade treats to start, took photos of us, made delicious okonomiyaki, then gave us cake to finish…when all we’d ordered was the okonomiyaki!
While we were eating they had Obama live on tv giving his speech at the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park, just around the corner from where we were. Unfortunately we couldn’t hear much of him speaking as the Japanese translation was spoken over top. The most awkward part was that a Japanese tv crew filmed us watching it and after waiting patiently for us to finish our food, wanted to know our opinion on his speech. While I was able to tell them I thought it was important that he visited, I had to awkwardly explain that we had hardly heard any of it and would be reading up on it when we got home.
After we had eaten we then watched Yukina and the other chef make 15 okonomiyaki at once for a school group that was coming to visit. No mean feat! We finished our drinks and as we were leaving to make room for some businessmen they struck up conversation with us and one told us he had been to New Zealand some years ago for work. All of a sudden Yukina and the two businessmen were leading us downstairs and out to a square where a sake festival was being held. We were handed sake tasting cups and tried a few different sakes before unfortunately having to leave to catch our train.
We practically sprinted to our train, exhausted from a long day. However as we arrived back at our hotel we saw that there was a craft beer festival being held across the street! How could we resist?!