Fortunately, it only takes about an hour for our ticket number to come up. We crowd into a small cable car, stranger knees style, and it takes us up to another station halfway up the mountain. We get in a new line for a bigger car at the next station, and soon we’re up to the top at Shishiiwa Station with a great 360 view of the place.
There is a path that leads between the peaks with temples and lookouts along it, up to Mount Misen. We trek through the woods following signs for the Temple of Eternal Fire. I do wooded ninja parkour the entire way.
Lots of uphill slopes, we’re losing layers and getting sweaty by the time we reach the temple. There is an opening with a handful of buildings. One holds the eternal flame. It’s called Reikado Hall and there is a large cauldron filled with holy water above a fire that’s been burning for over 1200 years. Drinking the water is supposed to cure diseases. Couples who share the water will find love forever. It was also the pilot light for the Flame of Peace in Hiroshima’s Peace Park that we just saw.
And who doesn’t like a nice hot cup of water after a sweaty hike?
The water is smokey to the taste (Deep Purple’s favorite). Queenie and I step out and into the shade to drink them. Oh hey, we’re in a lover’s sanctuary.
There are lots of little statues among the rocks here.
In the same area is Misen Hondo Hall which houses the Temple Bell
There are a number of tiny Buddha’s in beanies that are cute.
Alright, we continue up the steps to another path through the woods and up the mountain. Soon we come to another temple. This one is a little different. It’s called Sanki Daigongen and there are creepy masks on the walls. They are called Tengus, long-nosed goblins. Servants of the God Tsuichokijin.
Moving on from here we find a number of small shrines with offerings. One place just had coins in the crack of a rock. It feels like we’re on the path of a spiritual pilgrimage.
Almost to the top, I can see it, there’s just no way to get there. Then Beester totally just beasts it! She lifts a large boulder revealing a hidden path, “Over here!”
We made it! The top of Mount Misen. The view is great. There is a 4 story building with a roof lookout at the top. We go directly there to see what we can see.
People toss coins on to this rock. They glitter in the sun and millions of wishes instantly come true every day forever.
Yep this is great. Nice to take a break from the hike up here and look out at Hiroshima. Selfie time! Where’s that damn button. It’s bright out here. Ah shit
Well cool. If we bust it back down the mountain, passed the temples, through the woods, and up the other slope to the station.. we should be back to the beach to see the gate at high tide in the sunset. Loose plan. I’m sure it will work.
I prepare for the fast trek back with some gorilla breathing exercises outside another temple
We fly passed all the same stuff in reverse. Oh hey lil guy, I didn’t see you on the way up. Wait.. are we going the right way? Tiny. mighty, wiseman, is this the way? (A tiny voice whispers in our heads, “All paths are the right way. This is just a different way”)
We pass by a couple on their way up in the other direction. They haven’t gotten to the Temple of Eternal Fire yet. “Is it far?”, “To the temple? Only about 10 minutes”, “How about the top?”, “Hmmm 20 more minutes after that maybe”, “Ok, thank-you”, “No prob”. As we continue along I can hear her telling the boyfriend she wants to turn around, “That’s an hour round trip!” Queenie starts giggling, “Oh she’s not ready to drink from the eternal flame!”, “She can’t commit!”, “What would Bridal Mother say!”, “Their love isn’t deep enough”, etc…. Poor couple is gonna miss out, I should have urged them to push on and prove their love to the Gods.
We get to the station with time to spare. That’s good because there is an absolutely massive line to get back down. It goes around the building, up the steps and down the path nearly to the woods. Sheeeeeeeeet! Nothing we can do but wait in it (this takes another hour).
But we get back down to the bottom and still have time to catch the sunset like we’d planned. Back through the colorful forest, across the bridge by the waterfall and river, through the little village by the temple and pagoda, across the beach and.. bingo.
Sweet. Well we still have a bit of time before the boat leaves. Aaaaand I think I saw a tanuki up in one of those shops… goooo!
We tanuki rush back to the little village by the temple. Dah it’s already closed, damnit you elusive tanuki! Try another place. No luck. I can’t for the life of me find a tanuki statue.
We grab some skewered meat and think about what to do with our tanuki situation. Ohhhh… It looks like there’s a whole street we haven’t been down.
There are a whole bunch more shops on this street. There has to be a tanuki here! I go into one of the shops. They have a slew of maple cookies.
And then I see it. A great tanuki statue with big titties and huge testicles sitting up high on a shelf hiding in the dark! His face is lifted up and you can see his little teeth. It’s magnificent! This is definitely the right tanuki. I go to the cashier and ask about it. Her face lights up with disbelief. Ohhhh! and she rushes over with a step stool to grab it off the shelf. She can’t stop smiling. When she gets it down it’s all dusty from being on the shelf for however long. Cashier Girl gets a cloth and starts wiping the tanuki down. The whole time she’s saying softly, “Nice tanuki. Sweet tanuki.” Oh I think she really has a connection with this tanuki.
She cleans him up and wraps him in newspaper. She gets her friend to help. “Oh this is very nice tanuki!” That girl goes and finds a box. Oh and here’s a guy with some bubble wrap, “Nice tanuki!”. Did they name this guy Nice Tanuki? Or do they just all think it’s a nice tanuki? I think everyone in the store is helping me with this tanuki statue now. They want to make sure it will travel safe and sound. She builds a snug box with a box cutter. They are so happy. That tanuki was probably there for a long time. They’re thrilled that I’m getting it. They throw in a bunch of free cookies and stuff. This is great! (Or am I getting tricked by this evil tanuki?! Only time will tell…)
While this whole operation is going on, Queenie gets oysters and 2 beers. We take them to the boat with our boxed up tanuki. We get some disapproving glances for bringing beer on the boat. Some smiles too.
We get dropped off back at the Peace Park. There are some kids free style rapping under the bridge? They’re playing beats from an old school silver beat box, the kind you’d rock on your shoulder in 1983. Ok, let’s take our tanuki back to our boiling hot room in Sunroute and grab some grub in downtown Hiroshima!