Miyajima

Today we went to visit Miyajima because we wouldn’t want to miss the famous tori and shrine. We took the train from Hiroshima to Miyajima-guchi and then the JR ferry to Miyajima. There are ferries going directly from Hiroshima, but these are not covered by the Japan Rail Pass, so we didn’t take those.

We arrived at the island shortly before low tide, so we were able to walk over the muddy sea bed to the tori. It is really impressive, when seen from the ship or the shrine, but its size can only ruly be comprehended when standing directly next to its enormous pillars. Of course, I had my boyfriend take a see-how-large-this-pillar-is-photo.On our way back, we noticed that the small salt water puddles were full of small hermite crabs, their shells only about 2cm long.

After we visited the tori, we entered the Itsukushima-jinja. The shrine is built on wooden pillars close to the island’s shore. It was a new experience for visiting a shrine. The main sanctuary is connected to the island by wooden corridors with a neat low ceiling. Along the corridors only a few shrines are placed. So the main sanctuary is pretty much the only place to visit. Before people were allowed on the island, they came from the mainland, through the great tori, and for the pilgrims a pier was built which is the most favoured selfie spot at the shrine. The Itsukushima-jinja also features an old Noh stage and a treasury on the island which exhibits items given to the shrine or its adjacent temples.

After we strolled through the temples, we decided to climb mount Misen. Rising about 530m above sealevel, it is the highest mountain on the Miyajima. Two trails lead up the mountain and a cable car is also available, but we decided to walk up the mountain starting from the Daisho-in. From this buddhist temple, a trail winds up the mountain. It was a strenous hike, as the trails is largely composed of stairs, but we were rewarded with absolutely stunning views of Miyajima, mainland Japan and the inland sea. Only very few people were hiking up the mountain. It seemed most took the cable car.

After visiting the mountain peak, we hiked down a different route via Momijidani park. This park was created to integrate security measures against debris avalanches into miyajima’s natural environment. This trail was horrible to walk down. Often the paths had been washed out over time and only the stone steps remained where they had been placed, resulting in steps of almost 50cm height. But luckily we chose to hike up via Daisho-in, so we didn’t have to step up these heigths!

Although it is already quite cold, momiji – the autumn foliage season – is setting in slowly. So while we could enjoy some maple trees with blazing red leaves, others were still completely green. But we agreed, that we still like this very much, as the red contrasts nicely with the green.

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