Things to do around Kure, Japan
June 16, 2012 8:44 AM   Subscribe

I am heading to Japan for the first time. Looking for day trip suggestions and things to do near Kure.

I will be traveling to Kure, Japan for about 10 days next month (mid-July) for work. I anticipate a few days of downtime--probably not consecutive days, so I'm looking for some fun things to do in Kure and nearby areas. I enjoy the outdoors, but it seems like it may be pretty rainy in July, so indoor and outdoor suggestions are welcome. Since I am a vegetarian I was also wondering if there are any local dishes I should try or even specific eateries I shouldn't miss.

Places accessible via rail/bus are preferred as I will be staying a short walk from the Kure rail station. Hiroshima is less than an hour away, so I definitely plan on spending a day there. Any specific suggestions for things to see in Hiroshima?

This will be my first time in Japan, so any general tips/info would also be appreciated. Arigatou gozaimasu!
posted by MrSomeone to Travel & Transportation around Kure, Japan (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Vegetarianism isn't really a thing in Japan, just as "death from overwork" isn't really a thing in the west. Most dishes you would expect to have no meat in them still have meat in them. Just so you know.

Do you object to fish? How about fish stock?
posted by zachawry at 9:19 AM on June 16, 2012

Response by poster: Sorry about that, forgot to mention that I do eat fish.
posted by MrSomeone at 9:25 AM on June 16, 2012

Japan is not toobsd food-wise if you are ok with fish and even easier if you are ok with "no visible meat" -- ie, it's fairly easy to get ramen, say, with no meat, but the stock is probably chicken/pork. I'd suggest trying okonomiyaki while you are there; I prefer the Osaka version, but Hiroshima-style is still fun and tasty.

Stuff to do in Hiroshima -- the Peace Park is sort of a must, and the museum attached is worth a visit if you have time and want to understand viscerally the horror of the bomb and it's aftermath. The castle is worth a look, too. A day trip to Miyajima to see the famous gate/shrine is fun, and there are a couple of temples on the island that are fun to visit (if you like temples) -- The Shingon Daishouin was especially interesting (but I like temples and find esoteric Buddhism interesting).
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:23 AM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention-- the shrine at Miyajima is nicer at high tide, if you can manage the timing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:41 AM on June 16, 2012

Best answer: I've never been to Kure, so this is based on research rather than experience, but it looks as if the railway line it's on - the Kure Line - is quite a useful one for tourists.

If you head away from Hiroshima, it's a sightseeing line with nice views of the Seto Inland Sea. For instance, I believe this YouTube video (mobile site link, sorry), which starts getting really pretty at about the 2-minute mark, is shot from that line, near the Mihara end. There's even a special sightseeing train - which I guess is laid out better for camera-wielding tourists than the ordinary kind - that runs at weekends. It's apparently been renamed from "Setouchi Marine View" to "Kiyomori Marine View" in the last year or so; searching YouTube for either name is likely to yield more scenic videos. The train itself looks quite unusual.

Heading the other way, if you choose your train carefully (or change at Hiroshima), you can go all the way to Iwakuni, which has a famous bridge, a castle, and a unique local breed of snake. This recommendation is based on experience; I found Iwakuni made a very pleasant day out, though admittedly it might not be much fun in the rain.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:00 PM on June 16, 2012

Best answer: Hiroshima is known for it's style of Okonomiyaki (like a savory pizza pancake) that has yaki-soba (fried noodles) on it. This shouldn't be too hard to make vegetarian since you make it yourself at the table. (Or a waiter cooks it for you, but Moonorb's suggestion should take care of that)

Be as flexible as you can stand to be with the vegetarianism. It really will confuse most people you talk to. And tweaking a restaurant's dish by saying 'I'd like X, but can I switch the Y with Q?' like we do here is a faux pas. (Once a friend did this in an italian place in Tokyo. They were dismayed that she wanted her pasta with no meat...because then it wouldn't have meat! Then the chef came out, and she explained it again. And she spoke EXCELLENT Japanese. The chef, inspired to meet her strange needs created a special dish just for her...with ham. Because ham isn't meat. >.> ) But it's not a HUGE faux pas, so if you need to stand your ground, do so.

The people you'll be working with will probably be eager to give you advice on places to visit, and take you out to eat. If you can get to a shinkansen line, your day trip options really open up. Japan isn't that big. What kind of thing do you like? Modern stuff, history stuff, art stuff, geek stuff? Also you should take a day just to poke around ordinary stores like a grocery store and electronics store, hardware store, etc. It's really fun to see the differences.

A place to go in Hiroshima is a chain called "Tokyuu Hands" which has just about everything under the sun, and you can get some good souvenirs here. Also check out 100 yen and 1000 yen stores, which has some pretty high quality stuff on the cheap.
posted by Caravantea at 7:42 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the great answers so far! I understand I may need to be flexible with my dietary restrictions and I'm okay with that.

What kind of thing do you like?
I am an engineer and enjoy general geekery. It'd be nice to take in some Japanese art and architecture while I'm there, and I usually gravitate towards more modern stuff.
posted by MrSomeone at 1:02 PM on June 17, 2012

I would also recommend being flexible about your vegetarianism. In some cases it may be impossible to avoid dishes with some sort of animal product as an ingredient, although a useful (if somewhat hopeless) catchphrase is "niku nuki", which means "no meat!" when ordering food.

Anyway, if I were to go to Kure I would want to check out its rich naval history, particularly the JSDF naval museum or the Yamato Museum.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:08 PM on June 17, 2012

Best answer: The battleship Yamato was built in Kure and there's a museum dedicated to it in town.

Seconding the suggestions to go to the Peace Park, Miyajima, and Iwakuni.

If you like people-watching or wandering through cities, both the shopping arcade (Hondori) near the Peace Park and the area around Hiroshima Station are good places to go. There is a streetcar line that runs between the two.

The baseball stadium is also within walking distance of Hiroshima Station. It looks like there will be some home games in July (schedule here in Japanese, home games shaded red). The Hiroshima Carp have very enthusiastic fans, so seeing a game is fun even if you're lukewarm about sports.

Looking at your last comment, the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art might interest you. It's also accessible by streetcar.

Try the okonomiyaki! The other two famous foods from Hiroshima are oyster and little leaf-shaped cakes called momiji manju. Kure may have a few specialties of its own, too.
posted by Drop Daedalus at 9:08 PM on June 17, 2012

We visited Kure today to see the JMSDF Kure Museum (official English website) and the Yamato Musuem. Both were interesting, although I enjoyed the JMSDF museum more as you get to walk through the submarine. Be warned that both only offer brief explanations in English. The Yamato musuem offers English audio guides which would probably make it more interesting.
posted by poxandplague at 3:05 AM on June 18, 2012

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