Japan is scattered with temples and shrines, and no trip here is complete without visiting and admiring some of these beautiful buildings with their exotic and ancient architecture. While with some temples you can walk in, look around and step out within 10 minutes this trail called: [天台宗行者山太光寺] ”Tendaishū Gyōjasan Dai hikari tera” spans about an hour's walk and includes some fabulous views of Hiroshima City and the Seto Naikai Japan's inland sea. If you're a temple aficionado who enjoys donning their walking shoes and enjoying panoramic vistas of large Japanese cities, this is just the activity for you.
The trail begins up the road from "Furue" [古江駅] streetcar station, located on the "Miyajima-sen" streetcar line making it a convenient stop should you be coming from or going to Miyajima Island and wish to add an extra activity to your day. After stepping off the streetcar and crossing the road you will see a board with an adorably drawn cartoon like map of the trail. To begin the trail walk towards the Family Mart at the top of the street and turn left just as you approach it.
Continue straight and after you cross some train tracks, a shrine appears on your right hand side tucked away behind a mesh fence. As with most temples or shrines in the city of Hiroshima, there is information at the front detailing its name at the time of the bombing, its distance from the hypocenter of the bomb and how much of the building survived the blast. This can make for a sobering read, however, the children's slide erected beside this shrine, however, gives the scene a playful splash of color. This made me smile and set the mood for the rest of the walk.
Further up the road on the left is the first temple. This one has a small graveyard to its left and beside the entrance is a basin to cleanse your hands in the traditional style. (Take the water scoop in your right hand and wash your left. Switch the scoop to your left hand and wash your right. Switch the scoop back to your right hand and pour water in your left hand and rinse your mouth. Then wash your left hand again.) The faucet for this basin is an intricately wrought, green dragon and this one is unlike any I have seen.
Continuing up the road keep an eye to your right for a narrow path that leads across a JR track at the end of which you will see a set of steps. Follow these steps up to the next temple on the trail, stopping to pause at the small shrine and and the stone wall. You can continue up the hill behind this temple but I would advise returning to the main road and walking further on until you come to a bridge and can see the river. Turn right here and right again to see the concrete steps that lead up to the next shrine on the trail. After viewing this shrine walk around to the right into the woods and you will begin your ascent up the hill.
It is at this point that I should warn you, if you are attempting this in summer, for the love of all that is red and itchy, bring bug spray because this woods is full of mosquitos. As you climb the hill you will see several red, wooden gates that mark your passage upwards as you walk beneath them. After trekking up the dirt path you will eventually emerge on a small grassy field at the end of which is a pristine, white temple and from which you can see the city and the bay. Facing the temple, walk to the right and down the steps and you will find yourself in what I found to be one of the most beautiful graveyards I ever set foot in.
This graveyard is divided by pools of still, blue water with decorative square stepping stones. At the far end of the pools is a large concrete construction housing a bell and behind this a small glass room with a statue inside surrounded by seats. After taking time to meander through this serene and striking cemetery backtrack down the hilly path you took up and along the way down you will see a point where the track splits and one path leads down in a different way from which you came up. This path will lead you to the back of the second temple I mentioned. Once you exit here, it is just a short walk back to Furue station.