One of Japan's three most beautiful spots.
By this point I was choosing my daytrips by train schedule and whim. I had meant to pour over my Japan guide while in China and maximize my sightseeing but of course there were better things to do at the time. Decided to go to Miyajima as it is considered one of the three most beautiful spots in Japan, and with so much to choose from such a distinction can't be taken lightly. The goal for Miyajima is to visit while the tide is in--the water runs under the entire Itsukushima Shrine making it appear as though it is floating. I took the earliest train I could stomach but should have forced myself to go earlier as I just missed the morning tide-- the water was shallow around the torii as my ferry docked.
The benefit of this, however, was that you are able to walk out from the shore and see how massive it really is. It is built out of whole tree trunks painted that brilliant orange vermilion that pervades shinto sites everywhere. The barnacles were still crackling. I didn't explore the shrine itself thoroughly, choosing to observe a wedding party taking photos from a distance. The members were all dressed in traditional wear and the bride had two attendants to adjust her kimono for each shot.
After the shrine I toured the town and bought myself a daruma doll, then headed for the ropeway up Mt. Misen. Ropeways are not very common in the US (at least not that I know of) so I enjoyed the novelty of them. They do have a bus service that connects the ropeway to ticket offices in town, but I was unwilling to waste a half hour waiting so I decided to take the footpath.
Seto Inland Sea
This was one of the best decisions I made all trip-- the path leads up through a wooded area that showcases Japan's natural beauty at its finest. This was complimented by the view from the top-- a panorama of the Seto Inland Sea with its pointy volcanic islands capped with clouds. From here, and from the ferry to the island itself, it is possible to see just how much shipping moves around Japan. The peak of Mt. Misen is populated by monkeys who lounge around the ropeway station posing for photos. Am sure I could have stayed longer and checked out the entire park, but after a few minutes the clouds dropped down a bit and began to obscure the view, so I took the next car down to the base to head back to Hiroshima
. Walking back down the footpath from the lower station I stopped for a snow cone and received the nicest compliment I've ever had in my life. As I attempted to talk the family from California I had met into walking back to town with me to enjoy the scenery the mother looked at me, horrified, and said "I wouldn't ever do that... you're so adventurous!!" I was glowing for the rest of the day.