Torii gate during low tide.
I went back to Hiroshima station, at first I was little hesitant whether or not I should take my luggage with me since I will be staying in a ryokan in Miyajima. The ryokan was on the opposite end of the ferry terminal in Miyajima. I ended up taking the luggage with me, and I regretted it so badly later on. I took the train to Miyajimaguchi station, and from there boarded the JR ferry line. I went inside the room in the bottom deck; no way am I going to take my luggage to the 2nd deck of the ferry. I wish I would have left it at Hiroshima.
Street filled with restaurants, food vendors, souvenirs.
After I arrived at the ferry station in Miyajima Island, I took some maps of the area and tried to find Jukeiso Ryokan. This ryokan was extremely hard to find, the map provided by the website was useless, even the local person I showed it didn't know where it was at. I found it after 40 minutes of walking and asking another local person. I tried to find the entrance and saw the long steep flight of stairs to the ryokan. I was already mad that it took me a while to find the place, but now I had to walk and carry my luggage up the stairs to the entrance. They had a pick-up service after 3 pm, but I arrived before 230 pm, that's why I didn't use the service. I got to the top and was already sweaty from trying to find the ryokan and using the stairs.
They showed me to my room after I checked-in, and the view from the room was amazing.
I could see the whole island from my room and the famous Itsukushima shrine's torii gate. Well I felt so much better after this. I drank the hot green tea on the table and ate the snack. I cooled off for a little bit to get myself together, and explored Miyajima Island. It was low tide, so almost everyone was at the foot of the torii gate taking pictures. I saw so many students in the area taking their pictures and having a good time. The torii gate was bigger than I imagined it to be. The pictures that I saw on websites don't do it justice. Miyajima island and the torii gate is ranked as one of the top three most scenic views in Japan. After spending a considerable amount of time by the torii gate, I visited the street lined with restaurants, food stands and souvenir shops.
Miyajima is known for having some of the freshest oyster in the area. I bought 2 pieces of grilled oyster for 400 yen, and it was so delicious and fresh. I could tell it was fresh because I didn't end up having diarrhea that night, unlike the oysters that I eat at the local Chinese food buffet where I live. I tried their beef bun which was also good, and some deep fried seafood snacks as well. This area was well worth the visit, and I came back again the following day.
I went back again to the torii shrine and the water was slowly moving in. I explored the nearby pagoda and temple before heading back to the ryokan for dinner. It was a typical kaiseki dinner, although not as memorable as the one I had in Hakone
, but still good nonetheless.
Taking a stroll during the night.
Night came on before I knew it, and one of the reasons why I wanted to stay the night in Miyajima was the chance to enjoy the island without the crowd, other than the local residents of course. It was high-tide, so I was pleased to see the foot of the torii gate covered in water like they usually show in the pictures. The night was so quiet as I made my way towards the torii gate with the moon shining brightly through the scattered clouds. Not far off was a night cruise circling towards the gate, I thought that night cruise on a boat looked quite interesting. I would have liked to have been on that night cruise if I knew about it beforehand. I saw quite a few people taking night pictures of the torii gate, and I also did the same. I spent about 1 hour just taking in the moment to enjoy everything that's happened so far.
Taking a stroll during the night.
I still can't believe I was able to successfully do a trip to Japan on my own without any problems thus far. Well I was getting tired so I went back to the ryokan to get some rest. Mount Misen
Two full days left in Japan. I had my breakfast at the ryokan, packed my luggage and checked out early in the morning. I left my luggage at Jukeiso ryokan because I wanted to explore more of the island. This morning I went to Itsukushima shrine, but when I got there, I was met with so many students taking their class group pictures right in the middle in front of the torii gate. It was high-tide, and it was the perfect picturesque moment. I couldn't get to the center of the shrine to take a picture of the torii gate because I was blocked off, and I didn't want to be rude, so I had to settle for some side shots.
Mount Misen cableway.
I left Itsukushima shrine, and decided to check out Mount Misen for some gorgeous views of Miyajima and the surrounding islands. It took me about 15 minutes to get to the station uphill for the cable ropeway ride towards Mount Misen. I paid 1800 yen total for roundtrip tickets, and the views were so well worth it as the cablecar made its climb higher and higher. After I got to the first station, I switched to a bigger size cable ropeway car which stops at Shishi-iwa Observatory. And the view in this area when I went was so clear that day, and was so beautiful. I've never seen anything like it in my life prior to this. I could see local islands, the ocean, the inland of Japan, and the surrounding areas, it felt like I was on top of the world.
Not quite, because I wasn't on the very summit of the Island yet.
View from the top
I had to hike for 30 minutes on a winding path uphill with an occasional downhill walk, but for the most part going up towards the top of Mount Misen. My feet were hurting, and the blisters coming back to life, I had no idea what I was thinking going to the summit, but I just had to check it out. After more than 30 minutes of hiking, I stopped by some temples, and at the very top is an old rusted restaurant, and on the very top of that restaurant is an observation deck. The deck itself looked so old, probably due to the harsh forces of nature that it endures year round. The views were well worth it, I could practically see everything 360 degrees compared to the views at Shishi-iwa Observatory. But the hike back and forth may not be worth it for some, but if you have the time, definitely give it a try, and bring some good hiking shoes.
Okonomiyaki with oysters.
I made my way back down to Itsukushima shrine and towards the street filled with restaurants and souvenir shops. I just had to try out okonomiyaki, a Japanese dish made of batter, eggs, noodles, cabbage, bean sprout and other meat toppings of your choice mixed together and grilled to resemble almost like a pancake or omelette. So I visted this restaurant in the area that specialized in okonomiyaki called Kurawanka. I managed to get a table by the grill, and got to watch the pros cook it from beginning to end. As you know the Hiroshima area is famous for their oysters, so I ordered their oyster okonominyaki, and an ice cold draft beer. I've never drank more beer in my life than I have in Japan.
I usually don't drink alcohol, but for some reason I really enjoyed drinking beer during my meals in Japan. The oyster okonomiyaki dish that I ordered was really good. Of course I can't compare it to other okonomiyaki dish since I've never had one before, but supposedly there's a battle between which city makes the best one: Hiroshima vs. Osaka, sort of like the pizza battle between New York and Chicago.