I lived in Sandhurst, Kent, for nearly twelve years as a boy. Sandhurst is just a few miles from Sissinghurst, but in all those years my family and I never once visited Sissinghurst Castle [photo, left] and Gardens, which were created in the 1930s by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson.
I suppose the Hiroshima “Peace Pagoda” is about as far from us in Rakurakuen as Sissinghurst is from Sandhurst. It gleams down at you from the summit of Futabayama, on the south side of Hiroshima station. The last time I visited it must have been back in 1991 with Roland Petrov, although in the mid-nineties I used to walk up to Toshogu Shrine and then up the hill beyond it, through the vermilion torii shrine gates behind Kinkou Inari Shrine, and sit on a rock close to the summit. Yes, years ago. Ancient history.
Well, the other day the Mrs confessed that she had never ever visited either the shrines or the pagoda, and she has lived Rakurakuen ever since she was born, which is a lot more than twelve years ago; so we decided to catch a train to Hiroshima Station and visit a shrine or two on New Year’s Day, and perhaps even go as far up the hill as the pagoda.
Here are some photos of our progress:Toshogu Shrine, Hiroshima Peace Pagoda, Futabayama, Hiroshima