This little gem of a town is three hours' ride across to the north sea coast from Hiroshima, but it's well worth the journey for the rich history and scenery here. This was the stronghold of the Mori lords, who were defeated by the Shoguns at the pivotal battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Their graveyards behind Tokoji and Daishoin temples, with hundreds of stone lanterns and imposing obelisks, are highly atmospheric places. Hagi castle is just ruins now, but near it are some beautifully preserved samurai streets and houses like Kikuya which are open to the public. One might even turn the corner to be faced with a man in samurai armour as volunteers dress in period costume on occasion. 250 years later the Mori's descendants helped overthrow the Shogunate and brought British industrial innovations to the fray - all superbly documented at the museum here. Just beyond the town are the scenic coastal rice terraces of Higashiushirobata and the panoramic sea views of Kasayama peninsula. There are two or three historic traditional inns within range to round off an unforgettably Japanese experience.
To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.Bill Bryson