9:30 am. It is the 8th of February and the very last day of my Hiroshima stay. I rub my eyes as I slowly awake in my small and cosy cave of The Evergreen Hostel which has been my home for over eight weeks. I move away my bedsheets and sit up. My gaze wanders around and stops at the beams of sunlight that shine into the female dorm. This is it. Is my first thought. Today I will leave this wonderful place…My heart is heavy and my stomach is rumbling from the emotions that come up as I think about leaving. But as I think back, I smile. I remember the time I sat in Germany, trying to prepare my very first Working Holiday experience with no knowledge whatsoever and what to expect from it. Luckily I quickly found a website for Workawayers, created a profile and looked for places to be. To my surprise a few days after my registration, there was a mail in the postbox. Even though I had not written anyone yet, someone found and wrote me. It was Hazuki, who brightly introduced herself as »the owner of a small hostel in Hiroshima, Japan.« and asked me if I would be interested to come and work with her. I immediately replied how happy I would be to help her. Back then I did not even know how happy I would be.
It was around 8pm when I stepped out of the Bus that brought me from Hiroshima Airport to the Bus Center in just 50 minutes. It was January the 5th. The wind from the mountains found it’s way through the city to hug my body in an icy welcome. The bus driver got out to help me reclaim my luggage and as I checked my phone to look for the way, he asked me where I was heading. I was not expecting him to know The Evergreen Hostel, but he just smiled at me and pointed into the direction I needed to go. So I went my way. As I walked over a bridge I could already see one of the most visited places in Hiroshima: The Genbaku Dome. Best know as The Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The lights reflecting on the walls impressed me instantly and as I moved on I found a very big and very pink building just around the next corner. This was The Evergreen Hostel. Just as I got in and looked around, one of the staff members, Sakura, came up to me with a bright smile and welcomed me. As I sat down at a nice wooden table in the lobby, she told me that they were already waiting for me. In a quick tour she showed me everything I needed to know about the place and that Hazuki would be there to meet me in the morning. When I finally fell into my made bed I thought about all the things that would await me here and soon I fell asleep.
The next day I awoke to a voice calling my name. When I crawled out of my cave I saw Hazuki for the first time and in a second I realized how lively she was. She showed me a big smile, welcomed me heartily and explained everything in perfect english to me and the other Workawayer Theo. The work itself was very easy. Basically we just needed to do check-ins, bed making and cleaning the toilets, floors and showers. Besides this everything in the Hostel was and is very clean so make sure to wait for the guests, relax and turn on your favorite music to enjoy your time. Or you can just grab some Niku-Tama-Soba. Hazuki showed me the best Okonomiyaki in the world. I never liked Okonomiyaki back in Osaka because of it’s texture but here in Hiroshima, the base of the Okonomiyaki is Soba – Noodles. They are crisp, not oily at all and the cabbage inside is so tender you could actually fall into this plate of food and feel like lying on clouds.
If you are not full after this you can always walk to Downtown which is just 10 minutes away from the Hostel and packed with restaurants, shops and clubs. On your way there take a stroll through The Peace Memorial Park and the Peace Museum or just sit on a bank at the riverside and enjoy the view. It is worth it! And what? Still not satisfied? How about some sightseeing or hiking at Miyajima? This island is just one hour away from the Hostel by train and famous for The great Torii and the Itsukushima Shrine. When you are finished with eating all the fried Momiji Manju you possibly can, walk a little bit further ahead to start your way up on Mount Misen. After roughly 90 minutes you will get to the top and the beauty of the forest with various kinds of plants, giant rocks and dotted islands floating on the sea below will blow your mind. Be sure to take the cable railway back down so your feet can rest a little and your eyes can enjoy the overwhelming beauty of nature.
Besides all the touristy and towny things let’s talk have a little message for all the staff members!
Hazuki: You were always eager to show me new things and help me as best as you could. Thanks to you this month was filled with all sorts of adventures and fun times like sharing Nabe, painting my nails (which she really enjoys so ask her to make yours, too!), helping me with sending parcels back home, singing Karaoke (My Anaconda don’t!), watching german movies together and and and…Your smiles and character made me feel at home all the time and I can not thank you enough for this. On my birthday you gave me a little photo book with a lot of memories inside as a present and I will cherish those forever. Thank you!!
Theo: Thank you so much for the time back at the Hostel! You were one of the most funny guys to talk to and I always enjoyed going on adventures with you like to Miyajima or the Museum! I think that You, Paula and me will be able to meet again some day! Best of wishes and luck to you in Tokyo! See you soon!
Sakura: You were the first person I met in the Hostel and the very first to make me feel home. Thank you so much for your open mind and your bright smiles! I will never forget you and always remember: Do- do- do- dodemo ii dodemo ii desu yooo!
Yasu: Thanks to you I will be the Tamago-Yaki-Master in no time!! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and fun times with me! You are an awesome person and I wish you all the best for the future! I hope I will be able to do some Oden for you sometime too!
I could ramble on and on about how much I love this place. If I had known how awesome it is, I would have stayed longer. But even though this is goodbye for now, does not mean this is goodbye forever. I will surely return to The Evergreen Hostel and Hazuki to have a great time, share stories and meet new friends again. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. I will never forget this.