- Travel Topics
with comments in bold/italics by Dave
To head down to Hiroshima without taking a day to spend in Miyajima would be a complete crime. When we arrive in Hiroshima we were planning on heading to the Peace Memorial Museum first and doing Miyajima the next day, but upon meeting our couchsurfing host Hiro and finding out that he was going to take his two other couchsurfing couples to the island – we jumped on board.
The JR pass covered our transportation from the train to Miyajimaguchi to the ferry onto the island itself (in short, we got there for free). As we approached the island it was high tide so the famous torii gate before it was floating in the water, standing tall with its crisp bright orange coating of paint.
Upon disembarking, with Hiro as our guide, we trailed at his foot steps like eager puppies ready to take everything in. two American couples, a Lithuanian couple and our authentic Japanese leader (sounds like a bad joke) – we were quite the group.
Skipping the Itsukushima Shrine, which literally welcomes you onto the island (Hiro didn’t see the value in just walking through the hallways) we made our way into town, fighting off the wild deer approaching us for food – one of which legitimately tried to gnaw a piece of the island map that was hanging out of my pocket (he was lost).
Hiro instead took us to a lesser known, free (and less touristy) island temple – the Daisho-in (free…my kind of place). As we climbed up to it we gently grazed the prayer wheels lining the stairway – said to bring enormous fortune – I made sure to roll every single one (spoiler, we’re still poor). The temple complex itself is more secluded and peaceful with a small garden, and Henjokutsu Cave. The cave itself is both eerie and fascinating as you make your way through pitch blackness with Buddhist icons lining the sides.
Make sure to look out for the adorable miniature sized stone buddhas scattered around the complex.
From the temple we began our Mt Misen hike. 535 meters above sea level taking route B up and route A down. Though Dave and I like to think of ourselves as being in pretty good shape, we’ve got a long way to go if we hope to climb up to Mount Everest Base Camp in November 2013. With me in front row and Dave trailing in the back (the men were taking it easy) 2 hours later our group of 7 made it to the peak. What an exhilarating view! – made even more special by so few other tourists around.
Though the hike is always painful in the process once you get that glimpse of the view from the top all the pain and sweat is forgotten. Nothing quite like a deep breath of cool sea air from the top.
You always feel a sense of accomplishment when you reach the top, and it feels great to be able to share that with an entire group of people (even if they are complete strangers). Day in and day out it’s always just me and Dave so it’s great to switch up our regular conversation by throwing in some new characters – we welcomed the chance to spend the day with 5 newly acquired friends.
Naturally the hike on the way down was significantly easier and shorter than on the way up and 1 hour later we were back down at sea level – just in time for low tide, when the torii gate is no longer surrounded by water and you can literally walk right up to it. Though I’ve seen this happen plenty of time before the effects of high and low tide continue to fascinate me.
For a well earned dinner Hiro took us to an all you can eat all you can drink restaurant, not to be confused with a buffet – here you order items off a menu and they’re brought out to you freshly prepared. Feast is what we did.
Miyajima Island: With a JR pass the trains (which run frequently) from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi are covered as well as the ferry from Miyajimaguchi to the island (ferries at :10, :25, :40 and :55 past the hour)
Tourist Information center located as you get off the island. Make sure to get a map of the island and of the mountain hiking routes there.
Daisho-in Temple: free
Mt Misen Hike: Take route B up the mountain and route A down the mountain (will take 3 hours total)