Philippine Daily Inquirer / 03:37 AM November 26, 2016
At first glance, Hirado looks like the setting in Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s 1988 film “My Neighbor Totoro.”
Kodamas perhaps thrive in the long stretch of verdant mountains, the Cat Bus cruises the winding road at sundown, and the mythical fluffy forest spirit Totoro sleeps beneath the trees.
If you’re looking for kawaii stuff, drop the search and do these instead:
1 Eat Wagyu. We went to Ichiyama, a Japanese-style yakiniku where one dines Japanese-style—sitting on tatamis. The wagyu, served on a skillet and drizzled with sauce, was so delicious we almost cried while eating the last piece.
2 Rent a bike. Explore the place riding an electric bike which costs 500 yen for four hours, while an ordinary bike is 200 yen per hour.
3 Visit an onsen, the traditional Japanese bath. There are communal hot springs in hotels like Kokusai Kanko Hotel Kishotei. Rules are simple: Remove all clothing, shower, and enjoy. Most onsens prohibit tattooed people from bathing because tattoos usually symbolize a Yakuza membership.
4 Buy the sponge cake castella and Hirado Butter Cookies for pasalubong. Castella is a popular Japanese dessert best paired with coffee.
5 Keep an eye out for the bridges! The Hirado bridge looks like a chibi (small) version of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. —NIKKA G. VALENZUELA