Encountering the first rain of our trip as we wandered around Shukkei-en Garden, gentle raindrops sending ripples through the lake and distorting the koi below.
And there I was, lost for words, not knowing that the Japanese could describe sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees using just four syllables – Komorebi.
A slow, beautiful photoshoot between maples – quiet as the rainbow of paper cranes folded by thousands of hands, at the peace memorial museum later that day. Where we read about the immense destruction that hands are also capable of, somehow…
…from joyfully frolicking among perfectly manicured trees to humbly reading tattered diary entries of children from the night before their worlds were torn apart.
Passing the beautiful Hiroshima castle, we found ourselves at a Pokemon Centre meeting Pikachu in a Santa hat: a contrast between traditional and modern reminiscent of Tokyo.
We sat on bar stools eating Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki straight from the hot plate while the chef laughed at my friend’s poorly-pronounced exclamations of wasshoi.
The next morning, we were sipping delicious vending machine hot chocolate and racing into a corner shop for Onigiri to eat as we ran – just in time for the next ferry to Miyajima Island. There, greeted by groups of adorable deer and the quietly stunning entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine – The Great Torii – haloed by giant eagles.
A cable car to the top of the mountain for panoramic views over the mainland and islands – boasting snow, piercing wind and a ridiculously low temperature that we could only bare for 30 minutes.
On our way back down, crunching on wasabi snacks, and then apples; my fruit-scented gloves attracted wild deer who followed me around as though I were a real life Snow White.
(I followed the scent of warm momiji manju cakes as though my insides would freeze without them).
A five storey pagoda representing earth, water, fire, wind and sky – bright against the sky as it shifted from crisp blue to pale pink.
Goju-no-to (Temple of the Five Roofs)
We walked through Itsukushima Shrine to view the Torii from a new angle, transfixed as the tide lapped over a raised patch of sand until the sun disappeared.
Back in Hiroshima, our Airbnb host waited for us with edamame and sesame cabbage to snack on as we chatted, an undeniable tranquility lingering in the air.