On April 10, 2019, Karen and I were now travelling in Japan on our own. We were up early, long before the rest of our group that we had been travelling with so we had all said our goodbyes the night before. Most of the group were travelling home however there was one other couple besides Karen and I who were also heading out on their own.
That morning Yoshi was up early (he was always up early) and helped Karen and I flag down a taxi to take us to Kyoto train station where we had to find the Japan Rail office to exchange our rail vouchers. We found it fairly easily and also figured out which Shinkansen (bullet train) we needed to get us to Hiroshima. From Hiroshima we had to change trains to a much smaller local train and from there we were to catch a ferry over to the island. All of this transportation was covered by our rail pass which made travelling really easy. Warning, this is another very picture heavy post. There was just so much to see here.
Miyajima Island is considered one of the top three most scenic spots in Japan. It is a very scared Island and one that I had been to before. It had been a quick visit though and I wanted to go back and stay a little longer this time. Karen and I choose to stay in a very traditional Japanese Inn called a ryokan, the one we chose was family run with only 4 rooms and it was located halfway up a mountain with a creek running alongside so you heard the sound of running water all the time, which I found to be very relaxing. The ryokan served both breakfast which could be Japanese or Western and a very traditional several course Japanese dinner, we had two dinners at the inn and both times dinner took over two hours but the food and service were excellent.
“The Watanabe Inn is surrounded by rich nature where creeks murmur in the quiet atmosphere through the four seasons. In this atmosphere, we serve only four groups of guests per day. Please enjoy Japanese good meals with fresh foods of Miyajima in Hiroshima. We prepare a bath made of a Japanese cypress in each room which will completely relax you. Warmth and “warm-heartedness” of the Japanese styles invite you here Miyajima.” (taken from their web site https://www.auberge-watanabe.com/english/).
As mentioned this place was on the pricy side but so worth it!! Karen and I both thoroughly enjoyed our time at Watanabe Inn and would highly recommend it!
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Walk Around the Town
When we arrived on the island we made our way to the information centre and asked for them to call the Inn. Someone then drove down to pick us up and take us to the Inn. We had a couple of hours before our 6:00 pm dinner so we went exploring but made sure we gave ourselves enough time to come back to the Inn to change into Yukata for dinner. We had two dinners and two breakfasts at the Inn and I will post some of the pictures of the meals below.
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Itsukushima Shinto Shrine
One of the most famous shrines in Japan is the Itsukushima Shrine which was built over the water. Unfortunately when Karen and I visited the tide was out so we didn’t really get to experience it with the water lapping under us as we walked the many corridors. We checked the tide schedule but it seemed that high tide was after dark while we were there. Too bad as from pictures we saw it looks pretty awesome with water all around it.
“The centuries-old Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社, Itsukushima Jinja) on Miyajima is the source of both the island’s fame and its name. Formally named Itsukushima, the island is more popularly known as “Miyajima”, literally “shrine island” in Japanese, thanks to its star attraction. The shrine is known worldwide for its iconic “floating” torii gate.
The shrine and its torii gate are unique for being built over water, seemingly floating in the sea during high tide. The shrine complex consists of multiple buildings, including a prayer hall, a main hall and a noh theater stage, which are connected by boardwalks and supported by pillars above the sea.” Japan-guide
The shrine was our first stop in the morning as we wanted to go before it got too crowed to really enjoy it. We came across a wedding party at the shrine I guess they figured they would get their wedding in before the hoards of tourists. We did get to see the torri gate “floating” the afternoon before as we were coming in on the ferry. We also walked back down the mountain on our second night there to take pictures of the gate and shrine all lit up after dark.
Omote Sando Shotengai
Omote Sando Shotengai is the towns main shopping street. After touring the shrine Karen and I decided to go and explore the little shops that the town has to offer. On Miyajima Island, the deer are considered sacred and you can find them roaming everywhere, at one time you could feed them, however, they were becoming such a nuisance that it is now forbidden to feed them and you could face a fine if caught doing so.
The other thing you see all over the place is these little cookies calls Momiji Manju. We found them offered and made at several shops along the main street. Each were just a little bit different offering different fillings such as red bean paste, chocolate or custard. They are a soft cookie and were very good. If you bought a cookie you were offered a free cup of tea and a place to go and sit to enjoy your goodies. After buying several little souvenirs and getting some street food for lunch we headed back up to our Inn.
After about an hours rest we decided to tackle the climb to Daisho-in Temple. The climb was worth it, the view at the top was worth seeing but the temple itself was so vast. The temple complex is spread out over a large area on the slope of the mountain with many different buildings on many different levels. Many, many stairs and so much to see. Karen and I spent several hours there and we could have spent more however dinner was again at 6 so we had to make it back down the mountain for that, luckily our inn was situated right at the start of the temple climb. This was a truly unique and peaceful Buddist temple and not near as busy as the Itsukushima Shrine. I thoroughly enjoyed my time poking around and visiting all the different places there was to visit.
“Daishō-in or Daisyō-in (大聖院) is a historic Japanese temple complex with many temples and statues on Mount Misen, the holy mountain on the island of Itsukushima, off the coast of Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima, Japan. It is the 14th temple in the Chūgoku 33 Kannon Pilgrimage and famous for the maple trees and their autumn colours. It is also called “Suishō-ji” (水精寺). Including Mt. Misen, Daishō-in is within the World Heritage Area of Itsukushima Shrine.
In this temple there is a flame which is said to have been burning since its foundation, for more than 1200 years.”
After our stay on Miyajima Island, we were heading to Himeji to visit the Castle there but first a stop in Hiroshima.