February 20th, 2009 – by: LivYorDrem
We arrived in Hiroshima at around 9 am. I was scheduled for a shipâ€™s excursion to the island of Miyajima. It had sounded interesting to me and had lots of natural areas where I could glimpse some birds. We took a bus then a ferry to the island. Our guide took us into the Shinto shrine. She explained some of the Shinto beliefs. They have thousands of gods and goddesses they worship. The example she gave was of sewing needles. There is a day of memorial for sewing needles. They take their bent and old needles to a shrine where they stick them in tofu, thanking them for their service. Okay itâ€™s a little weird and even she admitted it!
When we arrived on the island, we were warned that there were many deer and that they really liked paper.
It didnâ€™t matter what kind, brochures, maps, even passports. We saw some as we walked toward the shrine. One very enterprising deer stole my map right out of my pocket! I grabbed it and started into a tug-of-war with the deer which reminded me of a goat. He wouldnâ€™t let go even as I was trying to pry it out of his mouth and whacking him (somewhat gently)upside the head. Iâ€™m sure several people got this on camera and I would not be surprised if it shows up on YouTube! He would not let go and ended up ripping off a third of my map and then calmly chewing it up and swallowing it. Several other deer tried to get into my pockets after seeing that I was such an easy target! They should have warned us that a band of aggressive pickpockets worked the area! I hope my before and after picture comes through!
The band of pickpockets approaching me
I decided to head up into the paths away from the town.
The tori or Shinto gate over the water is one of the famous landmarks of Japan. The island also contains numerous Shinto and Buddhist temples hidden away. I wish that we had more time on the island as it was very rushed and there was a lot there to see. When I headed off the beaten path, I got lost. Of course, this was because the deer ate my map and it was no fault of my own! I wandered around until I began to worry that I was going to be late for the tour groupâ€™s rendezvous. I finally asked another nice Japanese lady how to get to the pier. She gave me some gestured directions. As I headed down the trail, she came running after me and I was afraid that I had already taken the wrong turn. But she just wanted me to know that I was to go over the bridge. So again, thanks to the kindness of strangers, I found my way.
My map before and after the attack!
I stopped along the way to buy some filled waffles that were in the shape of a maple leaf.
These were made famous here or something and I wanted to try them. I bought a box of eight, still warm from the oven. They were pretty good, filled with chocolate, apple, cheese or the local sweet bean paste. As I made my way back to the bus, I gave a few to the ferry workers, one very inquisitive Japanese lady and the bus driver. I got several bows along with the thank yous.
Back on the bus, we made a quick stop at the A-bomb Dome. It is one of the very few things that was still standing after the atomic bomb was dropped on the city. It is left in its damaged form as a memorial park. One hundred forty thousand people were killed by the bomb and the effects of the radiation affected many others. You canâ€™t see much of it as they had scaffolding around it and were working on it.
Back on the ship, I headed again for a nice long soak in the hot tub. I met up with Roger the other bird watcher and we identified some of the birds we had seen and photographed. The captain has informed us that around one in the morning we will be hitting some rough seas. Hopefully it will not be too bad and my stomach will handle it well!