As we climb the lantern-lit steps to Waseda Jinja, our local Shinto shrine on the outskirts of Hiroshima, the smoky tang of festival food wafts down to greet us: grilled squid, fried chicken and toasted taiyaki buns, fish-shaped and bulging with cream.

People of all ages are gathering around a small outdoor stage alongside the shrine. A group of older men banter loudly while, at one of the nearby game stalls, their grandchildren try to catch goldfish with a paper scoop. Schoolgirls study their smartphones and giggle.

Far above the gaiety, the moon rises over the mountains, silhouetting the pine trees on the crest. The wind swishes through the bamboo. Like a cheerier version of an H.P. Lovecraft tale, you sense the presence of the kami (gods) lurking on the threshold in the primeval darkness of the night, just beyond the shrine's cosy lights.