They are here for a football match but for James Donachie and his Melbourne Victory teammates, visiting the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was just as important.
Victory is in Japan for their AFC Champions League match against Sanfrecce Hiroshima and took the time to visit the Park shortly after their arrival.
On 6 April 1945, the Allies dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, destroying the city and ending the Second World War.
Donachie said visiting the peace memorial was a powerful experience.
“It’s good to come and have a look and read all about what happened here and how they’ve kept some things to remind people of the terrible things that happened here but it’s also good to come and have a look and read about the culture,” Donachie said.
“I guess it’s a city with a lot of history but it does make you think how lucky we are back home, coming here and seeing what happened…it’s an odd feeling, I can’t really put it in words.”
Having played in various AFC Champions League campaigns throughout his career, Donachie said he knew what to expect from Asia’s finest clubs.
“I guess the biggest thing for me in this competition is the squads are bigger,” he said.
“With more money comes bigger squads and it’s easier to travel because you’ve got fresher players but they are still very good players to play against.
“They’re very sharp, very fast, coming from Korea and I know Japan’s the same so slight differences but you have to respect the teams.”
With Victory not having won since the beginning of February, goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas said they had to look within to get out of the rut.
“We have to get back to thinking just about ourselves and I guess each individual about their role in the team then as a collective be really strong for each other, take care of each other on the field,” Thomas said.
“I know it’s easy to say in football because it’s all due to results, we created a lot of chances and played well in a lot of the games but we’ve been in this situation before, rough patches.”
The match doubles as marquee superstar Keisuke Honda’s return to Japan, where he will play his first club game in his homeland in over a decade.
Thomas said having the universally-adored playmaker in their presence was amazing.
“He has the sunnies on, trying to hide a bit because if that blonde hair gets spotted he gets swarmed,” Thomas laughed.
“But what do you say about him, huge player and a massive part of Asian football especially Japanese so I guess a lot of people will be excited he’s back, expecting a big turnout. He’s been brilliant as usual.”