at some point while wandering around, waiting for the low tide at Itsukushima (colloquially known as Miyajima, home of the red torii), I decided that with time to kill I should go to the top of the island’s highest mountain, Misen. it had been raining on and off all day, so despite the hike to the top only being about an hour and a half, I decided to take the cable car up instead of running the risk of being caught in the rain again on my way up. at the half-way point, where you switch from one cable car to another, I struck up conversation with the station operator. while we spoke, I looked up and noticed a flurry of white petals floating past us.
what sort of flowers are those? I asked, knowing that it was far too early for cherry blossoms, even though the climate was slightly warmer than in Tokyo. the station operator let out a hearty laugh.
it’s not flower petals, it’s snow! he exclaimed, laughing again at my astonishment. doesn’t it snow in Tokyo?
no, I mean, yes, it does snow, obviously. we had the greatest snowfall in a decade in mid-february! but… how is it snowing in late march? especially when we’re decidedly in the south western part of the country. with another laugh the station operator concluded, that’s just Hiroshima for you. at least it will make for a fun story to tell when you get back home!
certainly it did, and it also made for some of my favourite shots that day. the snow would continue to fall on and off again as I walked the trail up to the main view point at Misen, fortified by intense winds blowing over the island. it was an incredulous experience. as the snow would let up, mist and cloud would lie heavy around the primeval trees and deers would come down the small, oft-unwalked trails. I was left feeling grateful I had decided to go up the mountain – and equally grateful I had not decided to hike the whole way up, lest I had found myself walking into a snow storm!