A favourite of Japanese tourists but rarely visited by westerners, Tsuwano is a great day trip from Hiroshima. En route is one of Japan's few five-storey pagodas in Ruriko-ji temple grounds, particularly charming in cherry blossom season. At the centre of Tsuwano is a charming traditional street lined by traditional samurai dwellings and streams where koi carp still swim. Japan’s chequered relationship with Christianity is also encapsulated here with two western churches standing out amongst the Japanese buildings. Just up on the hillside is Takondani Inari shrine, sister of the more famous Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, with a similar staircase of striking red gates but uniquely robed priestesses. Yomei-ji temple here is one of the most peaceful and serene in Japan, and apart from the odd busload of visitors it is one of the most peaceful places you can easily reach from the bullet train line.
When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.Susan Heller