Yes, I'm going back home to Kyoto. Quite strange to say that for a foreigner actually but ... If you're looking for the french guy of J-Hoppers you will now have to book at J-Hoppers Osaka. I will join Yamaguchi San and Manabe San to prepare you a new wonderfull place to stay and discover the marvels of Kinki area (^_^)
What about my year in Chugoku area ? I've seen of course a lot of places and tried various foods or matsuri, among them here comes my ranking (highly subjective and controversial :-) ).
1) Miyajima Island. Number one of course ! I went there almost once per month !!! What did attract me there ? The famous Tori in the sea, one of the three most beautiful places of Japan. Don't think only about going to see it at low tide, it's also fun to reach it by foot at low tide. And do you what you'll find at its foot ? eh eh secret ... The Itsukushima shrine in front of the Tori. This one must be seen at high tide when it appears floating on the sea. Lot of matsuri here, check for that. Especially the waterscreen spectacle and the huge firework in august. Then the Daishouin, a really wonderfull temple atop the old village. Another secret ? Look for the little stairways that lead under the main hall of the temple ... and try to reach the end before being scared ! If you're a 'buddah in love' you won't have any difficulties. In the old village there is also a traditional artcraft museum which is quite interesting for such a little place. And the Miyajima aquarium has a wide range of funny fishes, and pinguin you can even play with or turtles you can feed. Except the village you can climb up the mountain either by foot, there is several course well indicated, count around 2h to get up and 1h and half to get down, either by ropeway, very impressive ! At the top you may see monkeys even if I've always missed them ... And finally on the opposite side of the island there are wonderfull beaches but you will need to rent a bike and merit them with few kilometers on a steeply road.
2 ) The Peace Museum and the Peace Park monuments. Of course too, unmissable. Emotionally very strong but you HAVE TO go there to spread the Peace culture all over the world.
3) Mitakidera temple. My favourite temple in the Hiroshima area.
4) Okonomiyaki. The delicious "japanese pizza" ! Egg, bacon, lot of vegetables, noodles (soba power ! forget udon ! :-) ), various topping, ... I will never be able to defend the Osaka okonomiyaki, the Hiroshima one is just so good !
5) Peace Festival. So sad but so important. Please go to hear the testimonies of A-Bomb survivors and transmmit what you've heard. The lanterns on the river at night, the Peace Declaration in the morning, ...
6) The Fuchu City Camping Ground in the Mikumari Gorge Forest. It's just so near from the main station, you have no reason to miss it if you're looking for some hiking in nature around Hiroshima. For example climb the Takao mountain and enjoy the wonderfull view on Hiroshima and the islands.
7) The Food Festival. So many good things to eat in this wonderfull festival in the Chuo Park. It introduces the local food and of course you can try a lot for free ! Go there with empty stomach is a better option ... ;-)
8) Shukkeien garden. The most beautifull garden of Hiroshima.Very unexpensive.
9) Hiroshima Insectarium. Quite uneasy access (look for a bus from the bus center) but the insectarium is quite wide and the butterfly room so romantic ... More over it's inside a huge park with several activities organized in summer.
10) Asa zoological park. Well organized, lots of animals and smart installation that let you get really near from almost all of the animal.
11) The chococro of St Marc Cafe. Well what ? Not Japanese culture, not specific to Hiroshima, ... ? Yes ! But anyway that's here in Hiroshima that I've discovered the top of the top of the croissant banana ! :-) I assume entirely what I'm writing :-)))
12) Sandankyo. A very entertaining hiking course in the mountain at west of Hiroshima. Not so easy to access but rewardable. The main spot of the area is said to be the three waterfalls. Personnally I had much more pleasure in walking the course than looking at these waterfalls.
13) Prefectural Art Museum. Allways a lot of interesting exhibitions...
14) Ujina Island. The easiest place to go to the beach in Hiroshima in summer. Perfect for a picnic too in case you don't feel like swimming in the Seto island sea.
15) Look at cherry blossom (Hanami) in the Peace Park at night. It's full of people eating on the ground under the pure white flowers ...
16) Garasu no Sato, the glass village. A glass factory that opens its door to everyone. You can even blow your own glass cup !!!
17) Fude no Sato, the village of the calligraphy brush. Here this is a brush that you can create yourself under the command of a real master. After you can see what you will be able to do of it ... after some years of training !
18) Gokoku shrine. The main shrine of Hiroshima, near the castle. Several matsuri here of course. I particularly enjoyed the one in January when they burn the past year omamori ...
19) Hiroshima castle. Surely not the most beautifull in Japan, but you still can enjoy viewing Hiroshima from the top of the castle, wear a real samurai armor, or learn some secrets about the construction of such a building.
20) Hondori. If you want to make some shopping you will find it here for sure.
21) Peace Museum Library. At the opposite end of the building. It's free of course and a good place to have a rest, read the english newspaper or even go on internet.
22) Veloce cafe. Chococro has a concurrent : chocoroyaru ! The cheapest coffee in Hiroshima and a wonderfull big chocolate bread full of butter !!!
23) Molly Malones irish pub. Well it's true I'm definitely not a 'party boy' but I went to this pub twice and I had good time there so ...
24) Shimanamikaidou. A road crossing the inland sea by jumping from islands to islands with 7 huge bridges. Do it by bike is a big challenge (80km) but you're so happy when you did it.
25) Hiroshima Children Science Museum. Dedicated to children of course, but you may still have some part of childhood inside you. And there is a small planetarium on the last floor.
26) Yuhua garden. Another garden in Hiroshima. A chinese style garden that suffers from poor maintenance. Go there to appreciate the differences of style.