Day 9: Hiroshima Mazda

Monday 17 April 2017

Continues from: Day 8: Mt Ibuki

During our first visit to Hiroshima in 2012 we stayed for two days and saw the A-Bomb dome, Peace Park, Museum and Shukkeien Garden on one and then spent a day at Miyajima on the other.

What we didn't have time for was a tour of the Mazda Car Factory, which is Hiroshima's other major attraction.  Neither Kate or I are particularily interested in cars, but we do like to see engineering and industrial attractions as well. So today will be a tour of the car factory!

After the factory tour we were planning to go to Ōkunoshima, which is more commonly known as 'Rabbit Island' as it is home to thousands to bunnies. Unfortunetly though it was extreamly rainy and we decided to give wet rabbits a miss.

We will have to try again another time!

Mazda was founded in Hiroshima in 1920 and they first hit major success in the 1930's when they started making three wheeled tiny trucks, which look more like bikes. Now they are one of the world's major car manufacturers. Although Mazda have a few factories located around the world, I think around 9, the one at Hiroshima is one of the major plants. All of the cars I have seen in Australia at least say 'Made in Hiroshima' or something like that.

Along with the Toyota factory in Nagoya, it is possible to book an free English language tour of the factory. Reservations can be made by phone or on their website. We used the website and made our booking about two months in advance. Many websites in Japan only let you book three months in advance, but it looks like you can book this tour up to a year in advance.

After booking on the website we also had to send an email with the names of the people who will be participating.

Our tour was for 10am - 11:30am so we didn't need to hurry too much in the morning. The nearest station is Mukainada which is only a six minute train ride from Hiroshima Station. We arrived 15 minutes early as advised.

After arriving we registered and were told we could look around while we waited for the tour to start. There were a few cars on display in this area if I remember correctly.

Once it was time for the tour to start we all got name tags and then hopped on a bus. Mazda owns a large chunk of Hiroshima next to the ocean and even has their own port. We drove over to this area while the guide explained about a few things that we could see out the window. I think they said something about having the largest privately owned bridge in Japan.

Our first stop was a museum. Upon arriving we watched video on the history of Mazda, and then our guide gave us a brief explanation of each exibit. The exibits started out as examples of Mazda's first cars, then they had a few of their more iconic or influential vehicales. There were also some engines on display and the obligatory 'car of the future'.

After the tour we were given some time to look around ourselves, before hopping back on the bus.

Next up was a tour of the actual factory building!

Unfortunetly taking pictures is strictly prohibited in this area as . We got to see a lot of big factory robots attaching and detacching car parts, as well as moving everything around while humans worked inside the cars using drills and such to put things together.

This was the most interesting part of the tour. Our guide explained some of what was happening below while we walked along an elevated walkway.

After the factory floor tour we hopped back on the bus and I think we returned to the main building.

Or maybe we went to a different area? I can't quite remember but there was a shop where we could buy Mazda themed things.

We also got a free toy. It was one of those rulers where it seems stiff but if you slap it against something it will curl around it.

As mentioned the origional plan after the Mazda tour was to go to Bunny Island. However the rain was just as bad at lunch time as it was in the morning so we did't consider revising our plan.

Instead we decided to have Okonomiyaki for lunch. Okonomiyaki is a type of pan fried food that contains batter, cabbage and things like meat and vegitables.

Osaka style okonomiyaki mixes up all the ingredients before frying, howver in Hiroshima they cook the ingredients seperately, including the batter which turns into something like a crepe. Everything is then put onto a pile of yakisoba noodles.

Inside Osaka station there is a floor that has heaps of Okonomiyaki restruants. We had a look at them all and decided upon one that looked good. We then ordered and then sat and watched while the Okonomiyaki was cooked in front of us.

It was tasty! If I had to say I think I prefer Okonomiyaki from Hiroshima over the Osaka version.

Okonomiyaki are quite large and make you feel really full. However, this feeling doesn't last long as they include a lot of cabbage, which isn't very caloree dense.

Once night fell we were hungry again. We decided to go to an Italian restuant.

I got a pizza and Kate got some pasta. We also had some desserts at some point during the day. Ice cream and pudding.

Tommorow we're heading back to Tokyo, with stops along the way for some Kobe beef and a visit to Himeji castle.


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