As you come into, or go east, out of Hiroshima Station on one of the local trains or Shinkansen you can see a large silver pagoda on the top of the mountain, which overlooks the station. Many people never bother to find out anything more about it, but the history is fascinating reading and the area is well worth exploring.
The mountain itself is Mt. Futaba or Futaba-Yama and the silver pagoda is referred to as the Silver Peace Pagoda. It was built back in 1966 as a memorial to all those who died as a result of the atomic bomb and is one of over 80 built throughout the world, mostly by the Nipponzan Myohoji, a Buddhist sect whose aim is to promote peace.
Peace pagodas are a type of Buddhist stupa and in fact, the one in Hiroshima contains ashes of the historical Buddha and were donated by the then Prime Minister of India and a number of Mongolian Buddhist monks. It also has a number of stones donated by a local resident that represent prayers for peace.
Although it is possible to get a taxi to the top, the best way is to hike. Yes, it is steep and a number of people have reported that they’ve been puzzled by the exact path due to lack of signage, but when, not if, you reach the top, the view of Hiroshima City and out to the Inland Sea is more than enough reward.
The hike is actually part of Futabanosato Historical Walking Trail and takes 40 minutes to complete. The beginning of the trail
is accessed via the Tosho-gu Shrine, which you can walk to from the North or Shinkansen Exit of Hiroshima Station.
Behind Tosho-gu Shrine you will find Kinko Inari Shrine, a collection of 100 red torii gates which wind up the mountain and it is through these that you walk up to the Pagoda. The area surrounding the Pagoda is particularly spectacular in spring when the sakura or cherry blossoms are in bloom, but the hike can be done any time of the year. If you’re new to hiking or just want a short weekend hike it’s the perfect activity and of course, being in Hiroshima City itself it’s easy and convenient to access.
If you prefer a longer hike there is also the option of walking from Nigitsu Shrine in Ushita all the way to Shokoji Temple, past Hiroshima Station. The trail extends approximately 10km and is particularly popular in spring and autumn when the weather is not too hot and not too cold.
Whichever one you choose, you can be guaranteed of nice scenery and a feeling of accomplishment when you finish.
Photo by Rich and Angela Housley