Floating temples and tiny deer

Miyajima Travel Blog

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For Japanese this island and floating temple are some most important sites in their country.
After a day of the Japanese pancakes and sobering history Akiko wanted to go see one of Japan's most famous sights for Japanese.  Just across a small bay is the island of Miyajima.  This island for a long time was considered so holy that regular Japanese were not even allowed on the island.  Those that wanted to worship at Miyajima got off a boat at a floating structure that sits in the water just off the beach near the main temple.  For whatever reason all people are welcome on the island and I was surprised my the beauty of the place.

To get to the island we took a local JR train out to a ferry dock.  there were two different companies taking passengers across so it took us a few minutes to learn what ferry to get on but eventually we were on the top of a small car ferry watching Hiroshima fall behind us.
Enough crowds and vending machines lets go hiking. My wife trying to pretend she is tall.
  The island was so unlike the rest of Japan.  First on the island there are very few cars and most of them are the tiny little trucks for deliveries. Second it might be the only place in Japan without vending machines.  If you have ever been in Japan you will know there are vending machines everywhere but not on this island.  Finally almost all the businesses close at dark including the restaurants, so if you are hungry grab supplies early or be prepared to eat an early dinner. 

We spent most of our time just walking around.  The markets were full of local goods and they sold some local sweets that Akiko seemed to love.  Really the pace here on the island was nice and slow.  The temple was also very nice but my memory of the place is very fuzzy.
Deer having a swim.
  It must be because I have been to so many temples the last few years that some of the memories are starting to fuse into each other.  One of the best views is suppose to be of the Floating Temple as it reflects off the ocean water.  The only trouble was the whole time we were there the tide was way out and the only view got was of the temple rising out of the mud.

After so much time of being in urban situations we decided to go find some nature.  Miyajima has several trails that lead into the hills and the one we took started out paved and well marked.  After about ten minutes in the trail left some park benches and picinic tables and started to wind around soem large boulders.  A few more minutes and we were scrambling around large rocks wondering if we were still on the trail.
Bridge over mud at the temple
  Soon enough the trail became more clear but began to climb steadily.  the smakrt thing to do for us would have been to turn around and come back more prepared as we had no food and very little water.  Of course we did what all dumb tourists do and just forged ahead until we were on the top of a small mountain.

The view from the top was great, probably the best view we saw in Japan.  The area is dotted with many little hilly green islands.  We sat at the top of the mountain and enjoyed the fact that for the first time in Japan we could not see neon lights, vending machines, or even see another human in any direction.  We could not enjoy the time to long though as we were so hungry as it took us three hours to get up the hill and we did not want to get stuck up there overnight.
Can you see where the trail goes?


Good news was we found as much easier trail down that was quicker.  On the way down we ran into a small herd of small deer.  These deer are the most timid deer I have ever met. The locals sell you grain that you can hand feed the deer.  We did not buy any us we both had lived in Banff and had spent a fair amount of time trying to teach tourists not to feed wild animals as it is really dangerous to do so in Canada.  Here however the deer come up to you basically beg for the food.  A bit strange to see deer the size of very large dogs. 

If you are in Japan and need a quick low tech break Miyajima is a good place.  There are many traditional Japanese inns and the island's peace just grows on you.  If you have a JR pass the ferry is even free to ride as it is owned my JR West. 

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For Japanese this island and float…
For Japanese this island and floa…
Enough crowds and vending machines…
Enough crowds and vending machine…
Deer having a swim.
Deer having a swim.
Bridge over mud at the temple
Bridge over mud at the temple
Can you see where the trail goes?
Can you see where the trail goes?
The local gangs of Miyajima.
The local gangs of Miyajima.
Miyajima
photo by: liekevo