The worst sleep I’ve had this trip! The tiny room, tiny bed, polyester cotton sheets and shiny polyester doona made for an uncomfortable night. The air-conditioning unit over my head had a flashing green light that kept me awake until I managed to stumble on the right combination of buttons to change it into a steady yellow one. I certainly wasn’t feeling rested when I got up about 7:30am.
The room also had very cheap dark brown towels, which prompted Carol and I to make up verses set to the tune of the Petula Clark song ‘Downtown’, rechristened ‘Brown Towel’. This now supplants a song we’ve been making up verses for called ‘Buddhist Love’ (our own tune). Collective nouns have been a reoccurring trope too: for example ‘a ham sandwich of Buddhists’.
Desperate for a coffee, it took us several laps of the main shopping lane until someone finally opened up and sold us lattes. Late closing and late opening are the shop hours here, and finding breakfasts has been a bit of a challenge all trip.
Fortified with coffee and star-shaped bun things with apple and custard in them, we explored the Itsukushima-jinja shrine, built on piers over the water of the bay; though at this tide, half on mud and seaweed. Afterwards we checked out the small museum nearby of National Treasures: some blades, artworks, calligraphy, armour etc. Then we walked up a hill nearby to the Senjokaku, a huge, empty pavilion or hall built in 1587 of huge wooden beams. It was very old and atmospheric, and we spent some time wandering around the big wall-less space.
Back to the main shopping lane, to queue at a place called Kaki-ya, an oyster and wine bar. Carol patiently kept me company while I devoured the ‘Kakiya set’, a platter of oysters deep-fried, barbecued, in miso, on rice – all washed down with a Guinness. Excellent!
It was time to head back to Hiroshima – we decided not to go up Misen, the island mountain, as it was very misty and raining a bit and there wouldn’t have been much of a view.
But the weather began to clear as, after I’d trudged out on the mud flats to get up close the famous torii, we got our bags from the hotel, caught a ferry and a train, and checked in at the Sheraton next to Hiroshima station.
Carol, my incredible organiser and accommodation booker, had guessed that by this stage we’d need a step up in accommodation quality, and this room is huge and comfortable; the best yet of our trip. So we relaxed for the rest of the afternoon and enjoyed a bit of much-needed comfort. Later, around 6pm, we went down to the lounge bar and had a couple of drinks and some snacks. We skipped dinner; I was still full from lunch anyway. Carol now says when I say something stupid ‘it’s the oysters talking’.
This is a luxurious, generously proportioned room and a large comfortable bed is exactly what’s needed after last night’s debacle!