2012 Japan Trip Day 18 – Miyajima

Date of Travel: 16/02/2012

It was a cloudy morning at Miyajima, but the scenery looking out from our Ryuoakn was still beautiful. We had quite a lot of sleep, so we had freshened up from the long distance travel we undertook the day before (about 500 km in total). We started the day off by having a stroll around town to look for some breakfast. Unlike many places prior, the streets were quiet and relaxing. We got distracted by watching how Momiji Manju is made along the way, and also by some free roaming deer on the island.

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We had only a few things on our agenda on this day, so we took things relatively relaxed. We started off by visiting Daisho-in Temple, which is located at the base of Mount Misen. It was perhaps the strangest temple we had seen thus far on this trip. It was a considerable flight of stairs to reach the temple itself, but visitors can take a side path which branches off from the stairs. This leads the visitor along hundreds of small stone statues towards the temple grounds, which was a very interesting sight.

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The temple itself was filled with many strange statues. While many other temples we had visited based its landscape on simplicity, these strange statues brought a very different life to the temple grounds. It was almost as if those running the temple deliberately attempted to make it more bold than others around Japan. It certainly helped to make it more memorable if anything else.

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Unlike the likes of Tenryuji and Todaiji, Daisho-in Temple does not have a “main” temple building. Rather, there are about a dozen smaller buildings spread around the grounds. These buildings are obviously not as impressive as those we visited earlier in Kyoto, but are still unique and beautiful. Collectively, it definitely left a lasting impression.

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After waiting for J.C. to finish taking photos, we started climbing Mount Misen. There were three main trails up to the peak, and we took the Daisho-in trail which started right next to Daisho-in Temple. Out of the three trains, Daisho-in is supposedly less steep than the rest, yet offers the best views. It must have been one of the most widely used path too, as it was paved with steps all the way to its summit in a similar manor to Fushimi Inari, though the latter had much narrower steps. The hike up to the summit did offer good views, but the path itself was also beautiful in its own right.

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Misen Hondo is a point close to the summit where all three paths converge. The Reikado building nearby protects a flame which has supposedly been burning for over a thousand years, and was also used to light the flame at Hiroshima Peace Park. Slightly further up lies a stone alcove which led to the summit.

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Unfortunately it started to rain when we reached the summit. As such, the view of the surroundings were somewhat obscured. As we weren’t in a hurry to go anywhere, we waited for about 5-10 minutes for the rain to pass. Once it did, the view of the nearby towns was significantly clearer, and it was a beautiful sight. We headed back down to Misen Hondo, then followed the Momijidani trail to the ropeway station. Once there, Brownie complained why we didn’t take the cable car up to the summit then climbed down instead. I was under the impression he wanted to climb up the mountain after repeatedly stating his desire to “climb some mountains”, but he actually wanted to climb DOWN from mountains instead! Well, it was a good 1.5 hour exercise anyway! The cable car going down looked very unstable however, so I was a bit worried when riding it down. It did not help that J.C. kept on moving around the car to get a good photo of the view, leaving Brownie and I to cover in fear until we reached the ground.

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The other end of the ropeway reaches Momojidani Park. While there were buses to bring visitors back into town, we decided to walk back ourselves. It was only about a 10-15 minute walk anyways. The park itself was quite beautiful, with a lot of free roaming deer and koi ponds. There were also a few souvenir shops along the way where we did some shopping. It was a good thing that we did too, those in town were a bit more pricey and was definitely a lot busier too! Brownie and J.C. also went back to the market earlier in the day to get a very late lunch.

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Our next stop was the Itsukushima Shrine, which we had a quick look around the night before. Now that it was daytime, the town and the shrine were a lot busier with plenty of tourists. It kind of ruined the atmosphere, but it was still an impressive shrine. The tide came in as well, so the tori gate was partially submerged under water. Too bad the rest of the shrine wasn’t though. I did have some fun taking creative photos of the floating tori gate!

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Afterwards, we went back to the manju shop from earlier in the day to buy some, then did some window shopping around town (including one selling really strange bags). We then slowly walked back to our accommodation. Along the way, we decided to take a seat near the beach and watch the sunset with the tori gate in the forefront. It is moments like these that really makes you feel alive.

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We went back to our accommodation shortly after to take a rest from what has been an awesome day. It was also dinner time, and we had arranged to have dinner at the ryokan itself so that we can enjoy the view. We were a bit disappointed that they insisted we ate in another room (that didn’t have as good a view as the one we had) as they wanted to prepare the futons while we ate. Still, it was a good meal with a lot of oysters. Must say though, I am not used to having soy milk as a hot-pot broth! After dinner, we decided just to take things easy and chill out the rest of the night. We enjoyed the great view from our room for a couple of hours before going to sleep.

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Daily Expenditure

1) TRANSPORT
N/A – …well that’s a first!

2) ACCOMMODATION
Jukeisou – 8085 yen

3) FOOD
Breakfast from grocery shop – 241 yen [Mandarin flavoured cream bun and chocolate bread]
Momiji – 480 yen [6 pieces]
Dinner at Jukeiso – 4,042 yen [Amago-don, oysters and plum wine]

4) ATTRACTIONS
Cablecar ride down from Mount Misen – 1,000 yen
Itsukushima Shrine entrance fee – 300 yen

5) OTHERS
Various souvenirs – 1,450 yen [paper doll, magnet, football keychain]

TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
15,598 yen (407,123 yen total)

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