Miyajima Island, Hiroshima4:43 AM
It was my first time in Hiroshima. And nothing could be more dramatic than arriving there on the same day the bombing happened 71 years ago. f
While waiting for the annual floating of "peace lamps" along the Motayasu River (this will be blogged separately on the next post), I decided to visit Miyajima Island first in the morning. Though I initially doubted since island excursions would usually take more than half a day. But with Japan's ever effecient train and ferry system, you can be in the island from the city center for less than 30 minutes.
Miyajima is where the iconic Torii Gate is located. That's one of the most recognizable symbols of Japan, probably next to Mt. Fuji, a geisha and the Shinkansen or the bullet train. But there are lots of things and places to see in the island other than this huge orange structure. You can go to the Itsukushima Shrine, the scenic Mount Misen, the Miyajima aquarium and you can spend the night in traditional Japanese inns.
Let me share how I reached the island and all the fun I had there. :)
Japan could be synonymous to train. Of course we'll take one from downtown Hiroshima to the island. From the Hiroshima Station, which is main station in the city as the name suggests, take the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station. You can also take the tram, line number 2, also from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi. The tram costs cheaper, 260 yen < 410 yen, but is a few minutes slower.
There is a short walk from Miyajimaguchi station to the ferry which will take you to the island. The walk should be around 10 minutes. Just follow the flock of tourists. It wouldn't be difficult actually to look for the right direction.
What a lovely, sunny afternoon, isn't it. There were not too many tourists. It wasn't a lonely day either. :)
This is the short walk from the ferry terminal to the ferry itself. JR Pass Holders are free if they will take the JR Ferry. For those who don't have the JR Pass, don't worry. The ferry only costs 180 yen. Travel time is 15 minutes.
It was quiet confusing which side of the ferry to sit. It's front and back look exactly the same so it doesn't need to rotate when docking and leaving. This was the right section which was facing to the island's direction.
First glimpse of the gate. :)
Deers and more deers. Wild animals like deers and monkeys actually roam the island and are ready to welcome guests and tourists.
One of the attractions in the island is experiencing riding the traditional Japanese rickshaw which is being pulled manually by a shafu. You can choose to go full costume if you want your geisha feels to go full blast.
Grilled oysters are being sold here like kwek-kwek in the Philippines. I'm not an oyster fan to be honest so I skipped this but almost all tourists fell in line to give this Japanese streetfood a try.
Finally arrived at the century-old Itsukushima Shrine which is one of the most beautiful shrines in all of Japan.
And there begins my touristy shots. LOLs! :p
This is the center of the shrine which is facing exactly the floating Torii Gate. If you want the perfect assymetrical photo, you can fall in line here. I'm not sure if you will be in the mood for your best pose though. Lines couild be very long and everyone's not taking more than two photos. So, plan ahead. :)
Speaking of photo ops, this would have been a perfect spot. But I was told that this bridge has been closed for tourists to cross for more than a year now so shrine authorities can still preserve it. So, culture first before vanity.
When I took this photo of the Itsukushima Shrine with one side of Mount Misen as background, I told myself that places like this are perfect for retirement. The tranquility just prolongs one's life. But then again, why am I even thinking about retirement. LOL. :p
A chocolate matcha, which I wasn't sure could exist, and the perfect pork bun as I rest my legs in between long walks. :)
This isn't an ordinary "ashiyu" or steamed foot bath. People actually come here to soak wash their feet as part of a religious ritual.
The view of the Torii Gate, which can't be reached by foot because it was high tide, from the Itsukushima Shrine.
There are days when tourists can actually walk to the gate. This usually happens late in the afternoon. During the visit, I can only stay in the island until noon so I wasn't able come very near the structure. But if you insist, you can take paid boat rides like this which passes through and under the orange gate.
Too bad I have to rush to the ceremony commemmorating the 71st anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing at the city central that I was only allowed to stay for 4 hours in the island. If you are planning to visit Japan with Hiroshima in your itinerary reserve a day for Miyajima. It should be worth it. :)
It was quite special for me actually to be standing here, right on the same day the historic bombing happened 71 years back. It wasn't a happy moment for humanity for sure but it's nice to realize that indeed, time heals all wounds.