There isn’t much I’d really like to say about Miyajima other than it is absolutely beautiful, so this is going to be a short one. I was surprised that a tiny island paradise could exist under an hour away from Hiroshima, and more surprised that I’d never even heard of it.
The focal point of the island is Itskushima Shrine. Built and re-built a number of times throughout history, the present shrine dates back to the mid-sixteenth century. It’s often referred to as the “floating” shrine because it was designed to look as though it is floating. Whilst it didn’t really have that effect on me, its still probably the most impressive shrine I’ve come across in Japan, and it really got me thinking about how they managed to build it all those years ago. Way back before there were cranes and all sorts of other machinery that could lower construction materials into place, how did they manage to build this massive shrine… underwater?? Pretty amazing really.
We (myself and two girls I met at the hostel, Candina and Eva) decided to climb Mt. Missen, the main mountain on the island. There is a ropeway (cable car) available, but at almost $20 a pop for a round trip, we thought it a steep price to pay when there is a perfectly good hiking trail just waiting to be trod on. It took us a bit over an hour, and whilst the climb was super tough (for me at least), that didn’t stop it from being fun, and it was definitely worth it when we got to the top.
After a picnic at the peak of rice-cakes and Pringles, we headed back down, choosing a different path to the one which we had ascended. The view got better and better with every step! As we got closer to the bottom, the trees slowly thinned out until we could see the beach and the shrine in the distance. We were so lucky to have chosen such a gorgeous day for it. Everything looked spectacular.
At the bottom of the hiking trail is a temple, with some interesting statues. I wish I knew what each of them symbolised, and what the hats are about.
Wishing we could have stayed longer on Miyajima, we headed back to Hiroshima in the mid-afternoon during low-tide. It was straight to the train station for me, off to Kyoto on the bullet train.
Stay tuned for the cultural overload that is Kyoto!