Saturday, July 27, 2019

Trip Overview Part 6 - Day 8 - Hiroshima

Saturday June 1st started bright and early for me.  I left my hotel in Osaka at about 6:30 so that I could catch the Shinkansen at 7:30-ish.  I was heading west once again.  I would eventually reach Fukuoka that day but first I had an extended stop in Hiroshima.

I got into Hiroshima around 9, found a locker to store my suitcase for the day at Hiroshima Station (one of the reasons I got going early that day was my fear of not being able to find anywhere to stash my suitcase) and hopped on a streetcar to head over to the site of Hiroshima Municipal Stadium, home of the Carp from 1957 to 2008.

The ballpark has mostly been demolished since the Carp moved to their new park a few miles east but nothing's been built on the site.  The space gets used for events and on the day I was there the site was hosting some sort of "Kid's Day" event.  This meant I wouldn't be able to see the one section of stands that is still intact.

What I was able to see though were the monuments that had been erected outside the park while the Carp still played there and were still there.  There's one celebrating every Carp Nippon Series Championship:

There's also one for every Central League pennant that the Carp have won.  What I like about this one is that not only have they added to it with the pennants that the team has won since they moved to the new park, they actually added a new stone to the monument when they ran out of room:

The final monument commemorates Sachio Kinugasa and his consecutive game streak of 2215 games:

I walked around the stadium site, hoping to be able to get a good look at that still remaining section of stands.  I was only able to get a halfway decent shot of it from one spot:

Here's what the ballpark looked like in the early 1990's.  The area containing the monuments is the green area in the upper right corner.  The stands that are still standing were in right center field so I don't think you can really see them in this shot.

1992 BBM #107
After walking around the ballpark site I headed across the street and finally got some breakfast at a 7-11 (it was almost 10 AM by now).  I then headed over to the Hiroshima Peace Park which was almost right next door.

The first stop was the former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, the building now known as the "A-Bomb Dome":

Just to give you some idea of how close the Peace Park was to the old ballpark, here's a picture of the ballpark with the Dome visible beyond the third base stands:

2008 BBM Hiroshima Stadium Memorial #04
The park itself sits on the northernmost part of an island in the Motoyasu River so I crossed the Aioi Bridge and headed into the park itself.  I didn't go into the museum itself and I didn't see all the memorials in the park but what I saw was incredibly moving.

This is the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound which contains the cremated remains of 70,000 unidentified victims of the bombing:

This is the Cenotaph for Korean Victims.  There was a substantial population of Koreans living in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing and an estimated 45,000 were killed.

The Memorial Cenotaph:

Here's the museum:

One more shot of the dome from the park:

After walking around the park for a while I decided I would start making my way towards the Carp's new ballpark as I had tickets for their game that afternoon.  I had a couple stops to make on the way though so I crossed back over the Motoyasu (this time over the Motoyasu Bridge) to go to the first one.

There's a small marker down an unnamed street nearby that's easy to overlook.  It marks the hypocenter or ground zero of the atomic bomb blast.  Since the bomb was an airburst this marks the location the bomb was directly over when it detonated.

The rest of the day was mercifully a lot lighter.  My next stop was a little over a half mile away - the Mint Hiroshima card shop that had just opened a few weeks earlier.  After checking it out it was now time to head to ballpark.  I caught the street car to get back near Hiroshima Station then got off and started following the crowd.  There were billboards for the team's current players on the way and plaques for retired players as you got on the main walkway up to the park.

This game was one of the ones that I was most eagerly anticipating as I was looking forward to seeing the ballpark (it's the newest park in NPB) and the Carp are probably my favorite team after the Dragons and Lions.  There was just one drawback - I wasn't going to be able to outwardly cheer for the Carp at the game!

I had gotten almost all my NPB tickets by ordering through Japan Ball Tickets (which by the way I would highly recommend).  I was very concerned about getting Carp tickets because they've been selling out their entire home schedule within a few hours the past few seasons.  Michael Westbay (of the seminal website fame) handles getting tickets for JBT and has found that his best luck in getting Carp tickets has been getting them in the visiting team section (the stands on the left of the photo above).  So the good news was that he was able to get me tickets to this game.  The bad news was that I was going to have to sit in the middle of the Hanshin Tigers cheering section.

Once I got into the park I took a walk around it on the concourse.  This is one of the few parks in Japan that you can walk all the way around inside it.  I then climbed up to my seats on the island of yellow floating in a sea of red.  I had a pretty good view from my seat though:

It was an interesting experience sitting in the cheering section.  I stood when they stood and clapped and yelled along.  I didn't know any of the songs but I would hum along as best I could.  I exchanged high-fives with the people around me when the Tigers scored.  All while mentally rooting for the Carp.

Here's video I took during one of the cheers:

I ended up being pretty happy with the game's outcome.  The Carp won the game 7-2 behind the pitching of Kris Johnson and a couple solo home runs from Tetsuya Kokubo and Xavier Batista.  The Tigers got a home run from Kenya Nagasaka - it was Nagasaka's first career home run so it got commemorated with an Epoch One card.

After the game I followed the crowd back to Hiroshima Station.  There had been over 31,000 people at the game and I think they were all trying to catch a train:

I picked up my suitcase and waited for my Shinkansen for Fukuoka.  And waited.  And waited.  Ok, I'm exaggerating a little bit.  I had the first (and as it turned out only) real train delay of the trip that evening.  Apparently there was a fire at the Shin-Osaka station that afternoon and the trains were running maybe 20 minutes late.  It was just kind of jarring as everything had been smooth up until then.  Luckily I had nothing going on in Fukuoka that evening so being 15-20 minutes late getting in didn't matter that much.  My hotel was a little further from the station than my other ones had been and I had to duck Saturday night revelers at Hakata Station on my way but I really didn't have any problems getting to the hotel.  I had now finished the first half of my trip and was as far west from Tokyo as I was going to get,.


SumoMenkoMan said...

Very cool. I enjoy Hiroshima quite a bit.

Sean said...

Great post. I visited Hiroshima a few times in the early 2000s when the old stadium was still there. I didn't take in a game but saw it from the outside since on each visit I ended up near the A-bomb Dome up the block. I was quite upset when I heard they were going to tear it down and replace it since it looked so great and was in a wonderful location (the whole peace park is quite nice, and in walking distance to the main shopping areas, etc). I was worried they were going to do what the Dragons (among others) had done and replace a beautiful old park with an ugly Dome in the suburbs.

But when I saw that new stadium I was so relieved, it really does look great. I've never been to a game there but I pass through Hiroshima on the Shinkansen once or twice a year and love looking at it as I go by.

Its weird but among all the things I dislike about living in Nagoya, probably Dome is near the top of the list. I want to root for the Dragons, but I can't help but liking teams like the Carp and Tigers more simply because they play in such great stadiums.