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July 18, 2018 - Hidden Honshu: Fukuyama
For my last post in the series of Hidden Honshu, I will be covering Fukuyama which is located in Hiroshima Prefecture. I did not choose Fukuyama as my stopping point for any particular reason apart from it being the most convenient location to hire a car to drive around Chugoku.
My first stop in Fukuyama was Myooin Temple which is located around 2 kilometers from Fukuyama Station. Due to it's location, it's probably best to get a bus here instead of walking from the station. Note that it's free to enter.
The temple was first founded in 807 AD by Kobo-Daichi which means it's bit older than the other temples in the area. Note that it's also quite photogenic but there is not that much to see or do apart from taking a couple of photos and moving on.
Located right next to Myooin Temple is Kusado Inari Shrine. It seems as though the main focus of this shrine is the view. Unfortunately, I visited after 4PM when the walkway to see the view is closed.
My next stop was the eclectic Fukuyama Auto & Clock Museum. It costs 900 yen and seems to include almost everything you can think of under the sun. Note that it covers multiple buildings and there are also many partially restored vehicles on both sides of the road.
One of the odd things about this museum is the waxwork scuptures scattered around the different buildings. My first comment is that Bill Clinton needs a haircut.
For some people, they will be at this location for around 30 minutes which makes it a bit expensive. However, if someone is mechanically inclined in your group come here and you won't be able to move them from here. To put it simply, my father would love this place.
As mentioned previously, there are many locations outside with vechiles spread over both sides of the road. Some of the cars/buses are fully restored while some look as though they belong in a garbage heap.
My next stop was the Fukuyama Hachiman Shrine which seems to be three different shrines joining from different locations. They are nothing special for Japan, but are better examples of shrines for people who have not travelled around Japan extensively.
After I visited the first shrine, there was a major trail at the back which brings you to some more major shrines. It was also much cooler than being in the sun.
These three shrine buildings also include two consecutive shrine entrances from the road which is quite different. I don't also think I've seen three large shrines right next to one another either. Note there is a large carpark at the bottom and it's a 10 minute walk from the train station.
My next stop was the small Fukuyama Peace and Human Rights Museum. It costs 100 yen to enter and includes a single piece of English translation which explains the basics of the museum itself. It seems as though Fukuyama was affected by the US carpet bombing. One thing I did not know is that the US would drop pamphlets (in Japanese) telling people to leave the city as the bombing was about to occur which is something I did not know.
Located a 3 minute walk away is the Fukuyama Art Exhibition and it costs 300 yen to enter. The permanent exhibition includes some local artists and even two Picasso Paintings which was surprising. When I asked about taking photos, they gave me a press pass and said no to taking photos of one painting. I did not expect them to do this and did not say that I write blogs.
My next stop was the Fukuju Kaikan which is a nice building located next to the reconstructed castle. There is a nice garden, good views and a myriad of different buildings. It's free to enter and they also have different experiences such as learning Koto, taking part in a tea ceremony watching Noh and the like. I'll include the link at the bottom of the post.
One of the interesting things in Japan is how quickly locations can become dry when it does not rain. It may not look like it - but the ground is now very dry here after 8/9 days of no rain. This is after the historical flooding which affected the surrounding location almost two weeks ago when I visited.
My next stop was the Fukuyama Castle Museum which is reconstructed and costs 200 yen to enter. It's five stories high and includes a good smattering of samurai and other objects which should keep most people interested. No photography is allowed of the exhibits and the view from the top was strangely a little disappointing.
My next stop was the Hiroshima Prefectural History Museum which was closed for the day. I don't know exactly why. The location below (and my last location for the day) was the Fukuyama Calligraphy Museum. It's not really worth visiting and costs 150 yen to enter. I only came here as I was given a free entry ticket when I purchased a ticket for the Art Museum. Note that I was also given a discount ticket when I visited the Art Museum which gave me discounts to some locations in Fukuyama (such as a 40 yen discount to the Castle Museum).
What surprised me most about Fukuyama was that there was actually things to see. With my previous research, I did not find much to do apart from the Castle Park which includes most of the locations above. Note that there is also good signage on how to visit Tomonoura at the train station along with a helpful tourist office which has english maps and the like.
This is a strange though to me - but this is probably my last official trip to Honshu which is a little scary. One thing I would like to note is the help that many people on the forum gave me in helping me tweak where I was visiting. My only small disappointment was not visiting Takehara & the Yamato Museum in Kure. At present, I have two more trips left to Japan and then I would have finished visiting all the locations I want to visit. My next trip will be to Kumamoto and a few other places in Northern Kyushu that I have missed in January 2019. My last trip in Japan will cover Kagoshima and a few islands in January 2020.
Experience Fukuyama: https://experiencefukuyama.com
Fukuyama Tourist Office: http://www.city.fukuyama.hiroshima.jp.e.da.hp.transer.com/soshiki/kanko/