Sometimes, beautiful places are hidden where you least expect them. We activated our rail passes that granted us seven days of unlimited train rides and took the Shinkansen from Kumamoto to Hiroshima. The train is, of course, confirms yet another Japanese stereotype: That their transport systems do not mess around. The separate Shinkansen area of each train station is white, has English signage and an air of sophistication. When a bullet train whizzes by, it takes mere seconds for the white blur to pass. When it stops, it looks like a rocket ship. Entering the train, you are greeted with an English announcement: “Welcome to the Shinkansen. This is a super express bound for…”.
We made a brief stop in Hiroshima and then moved on to Okayama, where we wanted to spend the night before moving further up north. The only thing I knew about that city was its famed “Tofu restaurant”, a place that only serves tofu. Vegetarian heaven and an absolute nightmare for everyone else. As we set out for the tofu restaurant, we quickly noticed that Okayama was by far the nicest city we had so far been to. It had lots of trees, was amazingly walkable, had real streets instead of soulless shopping centers, and after it rained, the streets glistened with the city lights. After the concrete jungle of Hiroshima, it all seemed serene.
From Okayama, it is just a quick train ride out to Takamatsu, which leads through several tunnels before spitting you out on a giant bridge by the sea. Little islands flash by, fishing boats are visible in the distance and suddenly you find yourself by the seaside, overlooking several archipelagos in the distance.