Friday, 20 January 2017

Miyajima Island, Japan

Itsukushima shrine with the Great Torii in the background
After hearing some good reviews of Miyajima Island from friends it was one of the few things that we'd included in our very minimal itinerary before we left home and I was very pleased that we visited. The only downside was visiting on a national holiday so we had lots of company on the island!

We caught the train from Hiroshima to Miyajima ready to take the ferry (included in our train pass) across to the island. We decided to try and pick up some lunch before catching the ferry, fearing that all of the restaurants on the island would be rammed. Everywhere between the station and the ferry terminal only sold the local speciality, oysters, and was completely packed so we ended up with two bento boxes from the 7-Eleven. Not a glamorous option, but definitely not as bad as you'd expect either.
Five tiered pagodo on Miyajima

After catching the ferry over to the Miyajima island, we ate our bento boxes next to the front and then set off to explore the island. It was pretty crowded as we walked towards the Great Tori so we decided to keep going past the most popular monuments and to climb to the top of the mountain on the island.

At the base of the climb was the lovely Daisho-in temple that we stopped into for a look around. For a small donation you could ring one of the ceremonial bells which I took great pleasure in bonging as loudly as I could and listening to it echoing round the valley.
Daishō-in Buddhist temple 
On leaving the temple we started the climb proper and it was tough going! The first half of the climb contained a lot of steps while it flattened out slightly in the second half of the climb. We saw quite a few people walking down, but only a couple of others climbing. It wasn't hard to see why the cable car was such a popular option on a hot day.

When we arrived at what we thought was the top of the mountain we sat down on some benches outside of another temple to enjoy a drink of water and a few snacks. After ten minutes it dawned on us that we weren't getting the spectacular views we were expecting at the top and we might not quite be there. A mad dash ensued to get to the very top before the viewing platform closed in ten minutes time.
View from the summit of Miyajima
We arrived at the observation deck on the stroke of the official closing time. Thankfully the caretaker let us in, he was feeling charitable as it was a national holiday and kept the viewing platform open for an extra fifteen minutes for the late comers like us.

We decided to take a different route down from the top and it started to get gloomy between the trees as the sun was setting. We were rushing a bit to get to the bottom before it got too dark for us to see our footing.
Itsukushima shrine 
We got back to the Itsukushima Shrine and the Tori Gate just in time to watch the sunset (along with thousands of other hoping to get the perfect pic). Despite showing some early promise we unfortunately didn't get the amazing sunset we were hoping for.
Becks at sunset

We caught the train back to Hiroshima and decided to visit a small group of restaurants that we'd spotted on previously. After deciding that we didn't want to queue at a couple of interesting places we ended up in Bakudanya and I'm pleased we did as I really enjoyed the food!
Dinner at Bakudanya in Hiroshima station 
The serve Tsukemen, where the noodles are served separately from from a spicy broth. I was a very contended diner as I dunked and slurped with a side of crunchy karage chicken on the side.

After dinner we headed back to our apartment on the sightseeing bus which Becks had expertly discovered we could use free with our train passes.
Curry noodles

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