Today will be a day of sightseeing in Kyoto with the guidance of the tour leader, covering the “city’s major sights and lesser known gems.”
Day 10 Planned:
- Tour Kyoto. Details to follow. Film at 11. 🙂
- Depending on spare time maybe a few anime related sites.
Day 10 Actual:
Ok, this plan will actually be happening tomorrow along with a special addition that I’m keeping secret for the moment. You’ll just have to come back tomorrow to find out what it is.
Because of the special addition, the plans for Tokaido Trail 7 & 8 got swapped around. So today was the excursion day, and tomorrow will be the Kyoto tour. Given how late I got back, I’m grateful for this as it makes this part of the tour much easier for me.
So, a very quick breakfast before one of the couples from the tour and I set out on the Shinkansen for Hiroshima.
I do remember being surprised on the platform. Not by the vending machines (those are everywhere) but by the coin operated payphones and the public recycling bins. As I think I mentioned earlier public bins are rare (Brett’s advice was that people take rubbish home usually), and it seemed incongruous somehow for the platform for the high tech trains to have such low tech phones.
From there we transferred to the Sanyo line until we got to Miyajimauchi. From there it was a quick ferry to Miyajima Island. One of the nice things about the Inside Japan planning for the Tokaido Trail is that we all have JR passes so the transport for these excursions, pretty much regardless of where we go, is basically included.
The weather was great today, and the views from the ferry were just superb. This one shows, I think, Miyajima on the left, the mainland on the right, and some aquaculture installations in the middle.
This one shows pretty much my first look at the Itsukishima Shrine at low(ish) tide:
Miyajima is, essentially, a sacred island that’s packed with temples and shrines, and also a herd of (mostly) tame deer. This one had definite opinions over whose bag that was.
It includes the famous torii gate that people can walk out to at low tide, but appears to be floating at high tide.
It wasn’t quite low tide when we got there but it was close.
I think we got within maybe 10-20 metres of it. The Torii Gate is quite imposing once you get that close.
On a (much) smaller scale it wasn’t completely dry out there, and I noticed these little fellows scuttling along in the shallows (this photo is heavily cropped so it may be blurred):
There were quite a few of these, with different shells, if you took the time to look for them.
From Itsukushima we hiked to the Ropeway that led to an observatory over the Seto inland sea. The route took us through a residential/shopping district with some amusement along the way:
Along the route to the ropeway were a lot of potentially fascinating diversions like this ancient torii gate that would have led to another shrine. Alas we didn’t really have time to linger so we generally went straight on.
Some of the smaller scenes along the way are really pretty. Like this waterfall in the forest:
Once you get to the ropeway you get some pretty decent views on the way up:
There’s actually two ropeways, and the second starts giving you glimpses of the Seto Inland Sea.
But then you get to the top, and to the viewing point on the hill top. The views from there are stunning. And, wonder of wonders, the panorama feature on the camera actually worked. Twice even, and the 2nd is the better of the two:
From there there’s another hike to a set of temples just below the highest point on the island. There were more stunning views and occasional small details that made the effort well worth while. I rather liked this little guy:
At this point I was starting to fatigue pretty badly so I chickened out of the final climb and returned to the ferry pier by way of the shopping district (and maybe some fried chicken on a stick and some mixed berry soft serve. Maybe. You can’t prove anything).
On the way down some of the signposts amused me more than a little:
And I caught a pretty scene that I’d missed on the way up:
The tide was clearly coming back in as I walked back:
I really liked Miyajima, and the half day or so we had there really wasn’t enough. Should I ever return to Japan there’s a very good chance I’m going to book an overnight stay there so I can a) complete the various hikes and b) see the floating torii gate at night whilst the temple behind it is lit up.
So, yeah, there’s a fair few photos of Miyajima in the album today.
From Miyajima we retraced our steps to Hiroshima. So the ferry and the Sanyo line back to Hiroshima. From there we took a taxi to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Unfortunately the main museum building is currently being renovated (I suspect that this is a 2020 Olympics thing, there’s a lot of that going on at the moment), and the exhibits are in a side building instead.
This may have slightly ruined the design/intended effect of the museum and memorial. There’s a clear alignment between the main building, the cenotaph and the A-Bomb Dome that didn’t become obvious until after we finished our visit.
The exhibits in the side building are also quite cramped and, I suspect, not quite laid out the way the curators would like for maximum effect.
That said… there were moments when tears came unbidden. Particularly with the artifacts and words left by children affected by the Bomb.
There’s a separate Memorial Hall which is also quite moving, but none of the photos I took really did it justice.
Hiroshima is another place that I would probably like to revisit to take a more measured approach to the site, and to what it represents. I probably want to visit Nagasaki for the same reason.
Back to Kyoto
After that it was two Shinkansen to return to Kyoto. One to Shin Osaka, then a sprinting transfer to another Shinkansen for the last stop to Kyoto.
Once there I sought out an electronics store armed with romaji questions from Brett. I was attempting to find the Chihayafuru movies since I’ve heard that the premium BluRays in Japan often have English subtitles on them. I was successfully able to ask for the movies, and the first one was found, but alas no subtitles were present on the disc.
Then dinner, and now I’m waiting for my washing to dry.
And here’s the photo album for today.