Miyajima Island

Today’s goal was Miyajima, an island off Hiroshima. But first we went to a nearby post office here in Osaka and filled a box with stuff to send home to lighten our packs – our spare shoes, or water bottles, the few souvenirs we’ve bought so far, and all the maps and guides we’ve saved along the way. It wasn’t that expensive and it’s great to have light and compact packs again.

After breakfast (and decent coffees) in a Starbucks, we check out, took a train to Shin-Osaka station, then booked a shinkansen train to Hiroshima. Annoyingly, the green cars were booked out, so we had to line up and get on a regular car. In hindsight, the extra charge we paid before the trip for green cars wasn’t really worth it. The website was deceptive is saying you could show up just before your journey and book green car seats, as every time they’ve either been booked out, or booked out enough that we couldn’t get seats together.

Anyway, we easily got seats after unfounded worries that we’d be pushing old ladies out of the way, and it was a relaxing 90 minutes to Hiroshima. I enjoyed a bento box for lunch, and started a book about the bomb (To Hell and Back: The Last Train to Hiroshima by Charles Pelligrino) which made for harrowing and upsetting reading.

At Hiroshima we changed for a 25 minute trip, walked a few minutes to a ferry, and a short trip over the water later we were in Miyajima.

It’s very touristy, but it’s a lovely spot, with the world-famous view of the vermilion Great Torii (shrine gate) in its small bay. There are many food places and shops selling tourist pap, but by the time we’d checked in to our hotel (a cheap place with a very small room, trying hard to be a bit upmarket and failing) and walked back to the main street, the crowds were disappearing onto the last ferries, and the place took on a very different feeling. We found a great little place for drinks and dinner called Mame-tanuki. Carol has three (small) wines, I had two local beers, and we ate tofu, potato and pumpkin, a selection of battered goodies, and eggplant tempura. I finished off the meal with a 21 year old pure malt blend Taketsuru whiskey, which was excellent.

Then we wandered the nearly deserted streets and waterfront, taking pictures of the floodlit torii, with the lights of Hiroshima over the water. Tame deer wander around. The atmosphere was relaxed and peaceful and in huge contrast to the madness of the night before in Osaka.

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