Still working our budget as well as we can, we opted out of the hotel breakfast and instead ate in one of the station Starbucks (there are several) on Tuesday morning. We had decided that we would visit Miyajima Island to see the Itsukushima shrine there. It’s a 25 minute train journey from the central station followed by a 15 minute ferry ride across to the island but, luckily, both the train and ferry are operated by Japan Railways so our JR Passes once again meant free travel for us.
The Torii at the entrance to the shrine famously stands in the sea and the shrine itself rests on stilts because at high tide it is surrounded by water and, according to the commentary we heard on the boat, the pillars are 10m in circumference. When I heard that, it aroused my inner geek and I immediately calculated (2πr) that they were just under 3.2m in diameter. Sorry, I can’t help myself.
Ishbel was able to get a couple of photos of the Torii as we arrived at the island. When we disembarked the ferry, we were surprised by the number of apparently tame deer wandering around the streets. There are warnings not to feed them and that seems to work as they don’t actively approach people begging but neither do they shy away from us. I’m assuming that there is no Japanese equivalent for the phrase “as skittish as a deer”.
We walked from the ferry terminal to the shrine and performed our duty as tourists by buying the combined ticket for the shrine and the “Treasure Hall”, for around £3.50 each. Almost every site we have visited in Japan has been free, or levied a nominal charge, with the exception being the Tokyo Tower which, at 2,800 yen (just over £19) each for the top deck visit, was still highly competitive when judged against comparable attractions in other cities.
The shrine visit was interesting, although we were slightly disappointed that the tide was out. The shrine is manned by quite a number of monks who go about their business largely ignoring the ogling tourists and the praying believers milling around their temples. After the shrine itself, our visit to the Treasure Hall was brief. The treasures no doubt hold greater significance for those who understand (and believe) the religion more than we do.
We decided to climb the stairs to another shrine further up the hill away from the sea. I was delighted to see a vast array of little buddhas wearing knitted hats as we walked up.
They reminded me of groups of rival football supporters all wearing their respective colours.
After our stroll around this shrine, we headed back down to the town, stopping off for a look at the five storied pagoda.
To my delight, the town had its own brewery and we stopped there for a pint of their lemon IPA which was very nice. We then made our way back to the ferry then to the train back to Hiroshima station.
After the disappointment of not getting in to Kemby’s the previous day, we tried again and, I’m pleased to say, succeeded in getting seats. We were there quite early in the evening so didn’t have much competition. We ordered burgers and took some time over the important matter of which beer to have. They had two of my favourites in the fridge: Brewdog’s Punk IPA and Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA. But I didn’t come to Japan to drink Scottish or American beers, so we ordered a couple of their house Hazy IPAs which were excellent and went very well with the burgers.
After dinner, we realised we were within walking distance of the Peace Park once again, so decided to go along to see it by night and to pay our respects once more.
After this, we took a tram back to the hotel to get ready for our return journey for Tokyo the next day. The Japan leg of the trip is almost over, but we have one more day in Tokyo and will enjoy it to the full.