We meander onto a nondescript path while climbing a steep mountainside staircase at Japan’s sprawling Daisho-in Temple. The stone path could be a service entrance or maybe an entryway to another small shrine. We aren’t sure. But we have time, so a wrong turn won’t hurt.
Then colorful dots appear on both sides of the forested path. A few steps later, the dots of red and white and yellow and blue climb up a long stone staircase through the woods. When I realize what we’ve happened upon, I melt into full-face smiles.
We got to see a lot of Japan, but I think we saved the best for last. I loved Hiroshima. The main draw for tourists like us is undoubtably the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Peace Memorial Park. And rightfully so. They are somber but necessary places to experience.
But the city is also eclectic coffee shops and intimate sake bars with incredibly friendly staff. It’s home to a baseball team with avid fans. Hiroshima’s okonomiyaki (fried-noodle pancake), unique even in Japan, can’t be beat. And at least one Thomas the Tank Engine bus ferries young students wearing matching hats.
Hiroshima is definitely the city we’d most want to visit again in Japan despite seeing its primary tourists spots.