Thursday, 10 December 2015


Torii at Itsukushima Shrine
Miyajima is a small island near Hiroshima also known as "shrine island". The famous Itsukushima Shrine built in the 6th century with its giant red wooden (Torii) gate is a noted symbol of Miyajima. and the site is ranked as one of Japan's three best views. We had to come here to see the "original" else the children might always associate the red gate with Epcot in Walt Disney World...

"Japan" at Epcot's World Showcase, Disneyworld Florida 2010
The weather was not on our side today, with the forecast of all day showers, we attempted to beat the rain with an early start. This meant the planned sleep in had to go. However, we did enjoy our included buffet breakfast. Malcolm went straight for the omelette station, I searched for my bircher muesli and Elliot surprisingly went for the Japanese style offerings. He hoed into the grilled mackerel!
The complete spread at breakfast

Enjoying breakfast

From Hiroshima Station, we boarded the JR Sanyo line to Miyajimaguchi Station (26 minutes). Miyajima Island was reached via a JR ferry (10 minutes) which was also covered by the JR pass. 
Itsukushima Shrine was an easy walk from the ferry terminal. The shrine was built on the edge of the island such that it appears to be "floating on the water during high tide. Because of the rain and our early start, there was hardly anyone else around us.

The JR ferry to Miyajima Island

Deer everywhere

The "real" Japan!

The Shrine "floating" on water

Next on our list was to tackle Mount Misen the highest peak on the island. The walk to the ropeway station would have been pleasant if not for the rain. By now, the drizzle had become real rain. The 1.7km took us to nearly to the top. To reach the summit required a further 30 minute walk. There was a haze, the wind was blowing and the rain wasn't letting up. After a brief family meeting, we voted to go to the top. We were already here. The climb was tiring! The one thing we had noticed in Japan was how fit the elderly seem to be. There were older Japanese tourists passing by us with a smile and hardly puffing. Grr...if they could do it then so could I! We rested briefly at the Reikado Hall. There is an "Eternal Fire" which has been kept burning for 1200 years and is the source of the fire for the Peace Memorial at Hiroshima.

Walking to the ropeway station. Notice how empty the streets were...

How the view should look on a nice day

We were going to this instead!

Walking to the top

The haze cleared enough to just see the sea and the island in the middle

Reikado Hall

Japanese inukshuks?!

The children thought going through the rocks in the rain a great adventure

Finally at the top!

Chance to rest briefly. The platforms where shoes were asked to be removed meant more resting surface area for more people

Remember the beautiful blue of the picture above. We saw this instead! 

We ditched plans to hike down the mountain and took the ropeway back down. We were ready to eat after such exertions! We thought we'd try another specialty of the Hiroshima region...oysters. We had oysters donbori (fried oysters over rice), fried oyster curry rice and oyster udon. It was just good hearty comfort meals, perfect for people who had been hiking in cold and rainy weather. Incidentally, the noodle specialty around the Hiroshima area is udon. The udon was finer than the udon we've had and very delicious. 

The last thing to do was to try some Momiji Manju, a maple leaf shaped bun like sweet. This was Miyajima's specialty. We walked down Miyajima's main shopping street and bought a variety of flavours to try. I was on a mission to try everything matcha flavoured...With that, we began our journey back to Hirsohima. As our day started much earlier than planned and our 90 min hike was abandoned, we had free time in the afternoon to enjoy our spacious rooms back at the Sheraton. A bath and a nap was in order.

You can buy oysters to go

The children love looking at the food to choose from

oyster udon

Oyster curry

Oyster donbori

Maple leaf everywhere

The main shopping street of Miyajima

Purchasing our Momiji

Everything here is beautifully packed

4 flavours - matcha, custard, red bean and chocolate

A new way to keeps kids in control. Bribe them with opportunity to buy something from the vending machine!

The rest of the evening was all about food. We went to a local Japanese "tavern" as recommended by the locals. The food was simple but tasty, and it was cheap!  The tatanmen so good we ordered another one.

Best beer he's had in Japan the man said

Broth so tasty!

Last chore before bed: Drying socks. My motherly instincts failed when I let the kids leave the house without snow boots. Pong.

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