Monday, February 4, 2013

Of Shrines & Hikes, A Visit to Miyajima

Just a thirty minute local train ride and 10 minute ferry southwest of Hiroshima lies the adorably stunning island of Miyajima. Famous for the floating torii of Itsukushima-jinja and delicious oysters (they were so good!), Miyajima is well worth the trip*.

The 'floating' torii of Itsukushima Shrine as seen from the ferry.

Although I certainly appreciated the view of the torii (although I'm sure my poor camera could have stood to be pointed at something else by the end of the day), my favourite part of the Miyajima was the oportunity to hike! While many choose to take the cable car most of the way up Mt Misen to check out the sites, quite by accident I found myself wandering up the longest route on the backside of the mountain in the company of a troup of Japanese police offices - one of whom was lugging his mountain bike up the mountain purely so that he could ride it down.

My hiking buddies! They ranged in age from 30 to 61 - a fact the eldest did not let the 57 yr-old forget when he fell a touch behind!
It was lovely. The island was so green that if it hadn't been for the flurries occaisionally falling down, I might have thought that it was summer! Or, at the very least, that it wasn't the middle of January!

The early morning sun breaking through the clouds on the back side of the mountain.

Looking back toward the coastline from near the top. Hiroshima is on the far right hand side.

In addition to Itsukushima-jinja with it's floating noh (Japanese drama) stage and torii, Miyajima is home to a number of other important sites such as the 13th century Buddhist temple of Daigan-ji and 8th century Daisho-in, the 16th century Senjo-kaku pavilion and the temple at the summit of Mt. Misen where Daisho (Namesake of Daisho-in) is said to have meditated for 100 days after visiting China, lighting a flame that is still burning today (literally).

A monk tends Daisho's still burning flame near the top of Mt. Misen.

Much like in Nara, the deer in Miyajima go wherever they please. This one is on the top of the mountain.

Descending back into town via the Daisho-in route. Although you can see that the tide is going out. It still looks somewhat as though the torii is floating.

A 15th century Pagoda located next to Itsukushima-jinja.

Looking out toward the torii from inside the halls of Itsukushima-jinja. During high tide all of this is covered by water and the shrine too looks like it's floating.

A view of both the noh stage and torii from the main hall of the shrine.

Walking out to touch it. Many people leave coins resting up against the barnacles that line the bottoms of the pilars for luck.

*For those looking for cheap yet awesome accomodation in the Hiroshima area, check out Backpackers Miyajima. It's located just down the road from the ferry docks, train and subway station on the mainland and the staff are absolutely awesome.

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