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SOLO JAPAN II 14.-28.3.2004.
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Thursday, 25th of March 2004
Nagasaki -> Hiroshima <-> Miyajima

Day Twelve:
Sacred Miyajima

Moving back north

Today's plan is to leave Nagasaki and head for Hiroshima where I'll stay for the following night. However, my main location for today is an island known as Miyajima near Hiroshima. Like Matsushima I visited earlier during this trip, Miyajima is said to be one of Japan's three most scenic spots (the third one is Amanohashidate located in the northern Kyoto prefecture).

The ryokan staff kindly gave me a car ride back to the station. During the short ride I praised the ryokan with an old American woman who had stayed there for four long weeks(!). At the station I reserved seat tickets to Hiroshima. According to the tickets I would arrive there 12:45pm sharp, making the journey almost four hours (includes a 35 minute exchange wait at Hakata station).

I almost missed the train leaving Nagasaki while I was trying to decide what type of ekiben - lunchboxes sold at train stations - I should take with me for the ride. Once I arrived at Hakata station and bought some sandwiches for the next ride, I met the American woman from the ryokan again and we had a small chat before I got on board the shinkansen that would take me to Hiroshima.

Requesting an accommodation

After the shinkansen had reached Hiroshima, I visited the tourist information center right away in order to secure a place to sleep at for the night. The young Japanese woman there spoke fluent English and although she was very busy thanks to us tourists, she enjoyed helping us out.

Once it was my turn and asked for an accommodation, she suggested I'd take a youth hostel. I admit I was a bit suspicious about it first, having an image of some kind of low budget dormitory room lacking basic services and having strict rules, but she assured me this wasn't the case, so I thought I should check this type of accommodation after all.

She made the reservation by phone, showed me from the map where it was and gave me some brochures of Miyajima I asked for. After thanking her for a very good service, I threw my backpack in a coinlocker and hopped on board a local train that would take me to Miyajima-guchi in 30 minutes.

At Miyajima-guchi, I walked to the near by ferry terminal. The ferry is operated by JR (Japan Rail), so my JR Pass was valid even on that ride. The ferry ride to Miyajima took only ten minutes.

An island inhabited by Gods

Miyajima is no ordinary island in Japan. Well, at least in ancient times people have seen it as a goddesses. So sacred, revered and worshipped it was in fact that the ancient shrine of Itsukushima-jinja wasn't built in the island but on the sea beside it.

The weather was cloudy and slightly rainy, but fortunately not windy nor cold. As feared, the island was invaded by other tourists, so getting some kind of feel this was a sacred island was rather impossible. Along the tourists there were also plenty of tame deer wandering around hoping they get something to chew.

Famous Otoori-gate

Along with the Itsukushima-jinja shrine, the other main attraction of the island is the Otoori-gate standing in the sea in front of the shrine. It is possibly the most known torii-gate in the world. The original version was built during the Heian-period (794-1192) and the current one built in 1875 is the eighth version.

I continued walking around the other temple and shrine areas taking photos on the way. When I thought I had enough, I noticed that the tide had lowered so much during the past hour that people could walk to the Otoori-gate for closer inspection.

While some tourists went to see the gate closer, many local people were wandering around the exposed beach digging for asari clams. This activity is actually known as Shio-higari and is a popular activity throughout Japan when the tide is low during spring time.

After taking many close range photos of the Otoori-gate, I returned to Hiroshima by ferry and local train. Although the weather wasn't the best possible and the timing of the visit wasn't optimal due to the other tourists, Miyajima was still worth checking out and it was very easy thanks to the transportation from and to Hiroshima.

Walking to the youth hostel

Back at Hiroshima station, I had a tonkatsu meal - deep fried breaded pork - which tasted great as usual (and it cost only 850 yen). I picked my backpack from the coinlocker and instead of using a tram, I decided to walk to the youth hostel so that I can view the city on the way.

Well, it is a very modern looking Japanese city, but otherwise nothing out of the ordinary to report about at this point. Once I made it to the youth house, I had to triple check the map I was really standing before the right building, as it wasn't a cheap looking hotel, but a ultramodern building named Aster Plaza.

When I walked to the reception desk located in a white, spacious lobby, I was confirmed there truly was a youth hostel in the building. I filled in some papers and went to my room, which was a faultless single hotel room! For 3620 yen per night, this was yet again a superb accommodation choice given by the tourist information center! Excellent!

The rest of the evening was nothing to write home about. If you really want to know what happened, I made some tough choices in what photos should I delete from the memory cards in order to free more space for tomorrow. After that it was the old ritual of watching some television before going to sleep. Overall I was again pleased with the outcome of this day.

back to top | proceed to day thirteen!


Photo copyright Ude
Japan Rail's own ferry to Miyajima.

Photo copyright Ude
Legions of tourists marching towards the attractions of Miyajima.

Photo copyright Ude
Otorii-gate, possibly the most famous torii-gate in the world.

Photo copyright Ude
Like many other major religious spots in Japan, Miyajima also had its share of temples and shrines.

Photo copyright Ude
The locals digging asari clams at the beach.

Photo copyright Ude
There were lots of deer walking around the streets of Miyajima.

Photo copyright Ude
The view of Hiroshima from the youth hostel room was nice.

Miyajima - A website of Miyajima and its attractions.
Hiroshima International Youth Hostel - Where I stayed.
Copyright 2003-2019 © , second edition. Latest minor update 4th of May 2010 (fixed and deleted broken links)