This is a Faculty-led program led by Dr. Michael C. Connolly. Dr. Connolly earned his BA in Social Sciences at Florida Southern College (1973), his MA in Modern Irish History at University College Dublin (1977), and his PhD in American Immigration History at Boston College (1988). He has been teaching in the Department of History and Political Science at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine since 1984.
Explore two of Western Japan’s most beautiful cities: Himeji and Hiroshima.
Take approximately an hour and a half ride from Port Terminal west, to the beautiful city of Himeji.
Upon arrival ,enjoy exploring Himeji Castle, the newly renovated symbol of the city. Nicknamed “Shirasagi-jo” (meaning “Castle of the White Heron”), it is arguably Japan’s most spectacular castle due to its imposing size. A UNESCO world heritage site, the castle has never been destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives to this day as one of the country’s twelve original castles. Next is the nearby Kokoen, a traditional Japanese garden with a beautiful pond that is a famous landmark in Himeiji. After visiting the castle and garden, your bus will transfer you to Himeji station where you will ride the world-famous Shinkansen bullet train to Hiroshima. Capable of speeds of up to 360 km/h, the Shinkansen takes 1h to reach Hiroshima. Rest at your hotel for a short while before you end your day with dinner at a local restaurant famous for okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes).
On the next day, visit and explore the Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park. The area where the park now lies was ground zero for the Atomic Bomb that was dropped on 6th August 1945. After the bombing, the Memorial Park was created and dedicated to those who lost their lives in the attack. Stroll through the park and discover the many memorials, monuments and statues in the park before heading into the Museum itself. After taking some time for lunch on your own, you will depart again by coach for the ferry port that leads to Miyajima, a small sacred island located in the Inland Sea that has been a holy place of Shintoism since early times. A short ferry ride will take you to Miyajima Island. Here you will find what is perhaps the most photographed site in Japan – The Floating Torii Gate. Designated as one of Japan’s ‘3 Most Beautiful Views’, the shrine it belongs to dates back to the 6th century with the present structure dating back to the 12th century. The harmoniously arranged buildings reveal great artistic and technical skill and have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In ancient times, commoners were not allowed to set foot on these consecrated grounds, and even now it is forbidden to give birth or die on the island! You will have time to explore Miyajima and its many shrines and temples as well as sample local goodies like maple leaf shaped cakes before heading back to Hiroshima station
- Explore Himeji Castle and Kokoen Garden
- Train ride: Himeji – Hiroshima (~1 hour)
- Arrival Hiroshima & Hotel Check in
- Depart on foot to local restaurant for okonomiyaki dinner
- Overnight at Hotel New Hiroden or similar
- Depart to Miyajimaguchi port for a ferry ride to Miyajima
- Arrive at Miyajima, visit island and Itsukushima Shrine on foot
- Free time for lunch and shopping
- Depart on ferry to Miyajimaguchi
- Arrive at Miyajimaguchi and depart by bus to Peace Park
- Visit Peace Park and A-Bomb Memorial
- Depart Peace Park to Hiroshima station
- Train ride : Hiroshima – Shin Kobe (~1 hour) and back to ship
- Day 1: dinner
- Day 2: breakfast
- Wear warm clothes.