what a day for a hike
14.10.2012 - 14.10.2012
From the time we started our research, Miyajima was a place that we were both really excited about visiting. Its beauty is renowned and it has been named one of the 3 top scenic spots to visit in Japan.
Coming over on the ferry, you are greeted by the bright O-torii gate, floating in sea and surrounded by a mountainous backdrop. The gate is considered to keep evil spirits away.
The gate is attached to the Itsukushima Shrine, first built in 593. We walked the corridors of this old structure trying to imagine what it would have been like for its first inhabitants.
We got slightly distracted from our high brow cultural experience by a group of wild deer who were being petted by other tourists. We wanted in on that, they were so cute!
This is Ashton taking the cautious approach as we had been told that they can get mean if they know you've got food.
This is Emma diving straight in for the petting:
This is one deer just being adorable:
Back in the zone, we headed for the Daishoin walking trail which took us up to the top of the mountain. Here's two enthusiastic amateur hikers:
We were really excited for the 1.5 hour climbing challenge ahead and very anxious to see the views at the top. You'll find that there are no pictures of us on the way up- things got a little heated and we were in mutual agreement that the sweat tash was not a good look on either of us.
It was a steep, thigh busting climb and we noticed that most people doing the walk were descending from the top. This made us question whether we were actually a bit crazy! The ducking a diving from flying bugs and the massive spiders littering the surrounding trees made the climb even more intense. However, frequent stops to appreciate our surroundings made the hike wholly worthwhile.
We were ecstatic to reach the top, shaving a good 30 minutes off the average time. This is us at the top of Mount Misen, 535 metres above sea level, looking out from the Observatory:
Here are the tranquil, hazy blue views from the top:
Despite our success on the walk up, we decided to use the Ropewalk (cable car) for the way down. The car took us a good way down but there was still a good distance for us to walk with our jelly legs. First stop then, a reviving cup of tea! We picked a marvellous coffee shop that was like walking back into the 70s. There were customers smoking indoors, the furnishings were largely brown in colour and you could order curry or pancakes. We monged out to the tinkling nursery style music whilst sipping tea from a cup and saucer. Despite the insignificance of such a regular experience as buying a cup of tea, the bizarre atmosphere in that shop, as we looked out onto Miyajima's naughty deer chasing tourists for their food, is a fond and memorable one.
Two tired but satisfied daytrippers headed back on the ferry, ready for some grub. We had been told that Hiroshima prides itself on its Okonomiyaki, so we went in search of a specialist restaurant and ended up in Tanokyu.
Okonomiyaki is essentially noodles and vegetables sandwiched between two omelettes, usually served with pork. It is served on a hot plate which is built into the customer's table. Here's a little preview, it's bloody yum by the way:
The way the food is served allows you to share easily and makes it a sociable experience. We thoroughly enjoyed this hearty meal after our climb and also the company of the staff who were really great.
After that it was time to wash up and prepare for our trip to Kyoto. With only 1 more night to go and having had a fabulous day, we were now able at least see the comedy side of our prison hostel. After all, what makes a grim experience makes a funny tale!