Ah Hiroshima. What a sweet surprise. The last leg of our journey took us as far south as this infamous city. It proved to be so much more than a history lesson. We were lucky to have a great in—Yushi, who was our AirBnB host, and became a friend. Her tatami apartment was a little gem, eccentric and lovingly decorated. It was built for tiny people (me!) so Ken was ducking through every doorway. Yushi's place was full of surprises: A walk along the balcony led to the shower, she provided beautiful vintage kimonos for playing dress up (my dream!) and sold hand-made accessories in her kitchen.
She was also gracious enough to take us for a traditional meal in the neighbourhood at Moku Moku. Okonomiyaki, (meaning "what you like" + "grill"), a Hiroshima specialty, turned out to be one of the best thing we tasted in Japan. The place we went to was a mini, hole-in-the-wall establishment, inconspicuous from outside but warm and cheerful on the inside. As we entered, on a large cooktop right in the middle of the room our dinner was being made. Layers of noodles, egg, cabbage, veggies, bacon and cheese sizzled, topped with a squirt of sweet okonomi sauce. We planted ourselves around the grill making the 8-seater restaurant half-full and were greeted by a smiling woman in an apron. Mrs. Hayashi, now 72-years old, has been running the place for more than 30 years and she's a firecracker. Sure maybe we had to repeat our order 3 or 4 times, but Mrs. Hayashi didn't miss the opportunity to give us marriage advice, gasp at our ages (apparently we look young for westerners) and come out for a photo-op in front of the resto. To our surprise, Mrs. Hayashi also gave us a beautiful parting gift—a set of okonomiyaki spatulas. The best! Arigato gozaimashita.