In my area in Hiroshima, Furue, there is a lovely little temple and shrine trail. Pasted to a wall at the local street car station is a map detailing the route and temples on this walk. I passed this map many, many times before I figured out what direction the trail lay in. My Japanese and map reading skills clearly need a lot of work. Another ALT once said to me "Once you've seen one temple you've seen them all." which, to be perfectly honest, I'd be inclined to agree with. They are beautiful and interesting buildings, quite exotic to my foreign eyes, but as you tour the many temples you realise they all look a lot alike. So what makes this trail special? Well for a start outside of every temple on it is a small plaque detailing the name of the temple at the time of the bombing, the distance from the hypocentre of the bomb and how much of the temple survived. Below are some pictures in the order they are visited.
|I love that there is a slide right beside this shrine|
|This temple has a water tap shaped like a dragon. Shown below|
|The basin where you wash your hands before entering the temple.|
How badass is this? Irish churches take note
After climbing a million steps to the shrine at the top of these stairs following the path around the side of the temple and behind it will lead you onto a secret path (it's certainly secret if you don't understand the signs) that climbs through a bamboo forest and further up the hill. Little statues sit alongside the path wearing protective bibs and funny faces and on reaching the very top of the hill you are met with a pristine white temple and fantastic, panoramic views of Hiroshima City and the many islands dotted around the bay.
|The guy on the left looks like he's laughing his ass off|
At the very top while facing the final, white temple turning right will bring you to a staircase which then leads you down into what I can only describe as the most beautiful graveyard I've ever set foot in. The centre of the graveyard is composed of several lenghty pools of water with stepping stones up their middle. Looking towards the end of the pools is a small tower with a bell inside and beyond this is a long glass room with statues and incense organised around a small shrine.
Altogether it takes over an hour to properly complete the trail but the temples, statues, phenomenal view and the tranquil beauty and uniqueness of this graveyard make it worth the walk.
On a final note a graveyard is the strangest place I have come across a vending machine yet. I meant it when I said they were everywhere...