In the early days of visiting Hiroshima it was like a holiday but after going there so many times it’s fair to say that the number of things to do close to the city centre dries up. As a result, I’ve been looking slightly further afield to the neighbouring prefectures for day trips and so it was really nice to go on a two day trip to a few places in Yamaguchi prefecture with my wife and her parents.
Akiyoshido Cave in Mine city provided the first mornings entertainment and that was followed by Motonosumi Inari Shrine. After that we drove over to an Okijima island (no pictures!) and then on to our ryokan (Japanese style inn often found in hot spring resorts) in Nagato which was difficult to find and involved some very narrow streets. Having checked in, I popped out for a brief wander and pretty much covered the whole area in about 10-15 minutes! It was a very pleasant-looking town and things were ready for the annual matsuri festival the following night.
Dinner (below) was a very elaborate kaiseki-ryōri (traditional multi-course Japanese dinner) affair and was rather overwhelming for me with so many dishes. It was all very nice though and I worked my way through it all with ease.
There was a hot spring bath (above) in the place and I had it all to myself after dinner and again in the morning. Following a very Japanese breakfast, we checked out and drove on to Hagi via a slight detour at Mara-kannon Temple (a.k.a. the penis temple)! Lying to the east of Nagato, Hagi is also located on the Sea of Japan and is a little old castle town with some well-preserved samurai and merchant houses.
It is famed as much for the people that have come from there as some of the sights themselves. These people helped drive Japan on into the modern era though I guess many foreign tourists are unlikely to have heard of any of them! One such person was Yoshida Shōin who was one of Japan’s most distinguished intellectuals at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. The very popular Shōin Shrine (below) is dedicated to him and is a vast complex including Shoka Sonjuku private school which helped produce many of those people who worked to modernise Japan.
After that, we wandered the quiet picturesque backstreets of the old samurai quarter which reminded me in some ways of Kawagoe in Saitama.
There will be more on Enseiji Temple (below) in the next Tokyo Fox post for reasons which you can find out here. It is a rare example of a shrine and a temple co-existing at the same location. It cost 200 yen to enter and that did include a rather nice old-fashioned poster map of the area.
There was a wooden horse in the temple grounds which someone else I’ve never heard of used to play with when he was younger. Whether it was a wooden one or a real one I don’t know! Not too far from there was a real animal and one that caught me off guard a bit as I didn’t see it at first. Alerted by it’s bark as I passed by, I returned moments later to tame “Risuke” using the skills I’ve adopted from my wife for communicating with animals.
Our last stop was Hagi Castle Ruins (210 yen entry) which basically consists of an outer wall and moat. Not much to see really but it was a pleasant area to stroll around for a bit and there were loads of fish in one part of the place.
What was most interesting for me was seeing the toilet called a water closet! Whilst it is quite common to see the initials WC it’s quite unusual to see it in a non-abreviated form!
It was only early afternoon at this stage but it was time to drive the 150+ kilometres back to Hiroshima. That was the end of this particular trip to Yamaguchi but we would return the following day minus my father-in-law and Momiji who needed some rest.
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