Miyajima Island

IMG_4601Deer enjoying the morning sun

Just down the coast from Hiroshima, there’s a regular ferry service to the island of Miyajima, which takes just ten minutes. In the good weather, the island proves a good antidote to the sullen after-effects of the previous overcast day  of dwelling on the atomic bomb. There are deer and cheerful native tourists everywhere. As I walk toward the iconic Itsukushima shrine and its ‘floating’ torii gate, there are three young women sitting by the sea wall chatting to a curious deer and drinking tins of Asahi. I snap away at them pretending to only be interested in the deer and the sea-gate in the background. “Would you like me to take a photo of you with him”, one of them asks. It’s clear she’s a bit tipsy because she’s Japanese and has opened her mouth to a stranger in a non-commercial setting. “Eh, yes please” I lie, taking advantage of the opportunity to talk with them. It turns out they’re from Tokyo and are on holiday for a few days. Within a split second of hearing this information, a few scavenging-backpacker-mode thoughts go through my head. They could host me in Tokyo if I decide to go there. Maybe I could even sleep with one of them. Or all three of them, greatly enhancing fond memories of Japan. I realise my imagination is running away with itself and as the small talk fades and they return to the lilting staccato of their own language, I attempt to keep the conversation going with a complement, “Your English is very good”. She tells me she needs English for her job so I ask what her job is. She hesitates before nonsensically answering, “I don’t work for a Japanese company”. Either she’s had one Asahi too many or she’s a spy for a foreign agency but I take it as my cue to leave. The three of them all wave goodbye, as is the custom here and I plod on.

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IMG_4620A traditional wedding (I think) 

IMG_4639Pagoda at Itsukushima shrine

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Maybe it’s the tranquil beauty of the colourful autumn forests, but I can’t help feel this is a place better appreciated with someone else. I daresay it’s romantic. Still, even though I’ve spend far too much time in my own company recently, I enjoy the scenery. I can’t remember seeing a forest as lovely as this one.

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At over 500m, Mount Misen is the highest point on the island and it doesn’t take long to reach the top. On the way down I pass through a temple with lots of little Buddha statues with wooly hats. I’ve no idea why they’ve got hats but whoever thought of it made good use of their time. I return to the busy little lanes near of the village and window-shop expensive, authentic hand-made food and souvenir shops before getting a ferry back to the mainland.

IMG_4708Top of Mount Misen

IMG_4711View of Hiroshima from the top

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