Miyajima Part 1

Continued from Fukuoka Day 2.

I am very behind in blogging. Since arriving in Korea and Japan, my photo counts have started creeping up and my urgency to blog has started creeping down. Not a good combination to keep everything up to date.

Anyhow, leaving Fukuoka today and heading to Miyajima via Shinkansen.

If my backpack wasn’t in front of me, I too would look like that…through my jacket. It’s true.

First a short subway ride to the JR(Japan Rail) station.

Ahhh, escalators.

Is it me, or does that Shinkansen picture/logo look kind of dirty? I can’t decide if it looks like boobs or a penis…or a penis with boobs?

Gotta change our JR vouchers for actual passes.

Before we left the States, we bought some JR rail voucher that we can only exchange into vouchers in Japan. They are pretty pricey, over $400 each and if lost can’t be replaced. They’ve been sitting in my pack for the past two months, and I am happy to finally exchange them into something of value. The JR passes will allow us to take all JR trains for free, except for most express of the shinkansen trains.

Sweet!! Got our rail passes, and it’s got a cool cover by the famous Japanese artist Hokusai. Don’t know who Hokusai is?

Maybe this print will ring a bell. This and the cover of our JR pass are both from the same series of woodblock prints of Mt. Fuji by Hokusai.

Hokusai also printed this one, The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife. Remember when I ate that moving octopus tentacle? Well, you probably wish you could forget it now…

Ah, coffee and a sandwich to tie us over a little. When we got our JR passes, we also made a reservation for a train, and it leaves in about an hour from now.

Ridiculous. RL has been carrying around tons of coins in her little purse this whole time. It wouldn’t be ridiculous if most of the coins were actually Japanese coins…

All deadweight!!! Those are all coins from all the previous countries that we’ve visited. I finally convinced her to lose the weight so that she wouldn’t spend extra time trying to find the right coin every time she had to pay using coins.

A mother pushing one of just 3 babies born in Japan this year. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but not too much. Japan has one of the lowest birthrates in the world, and unfortunately has one of the highest % of senior citizens. This is causing all sorts of social and economic issues.

Time to head to the platform.

Over here on the platform, we ran into our bartender/cook at the izakaya we visited last night. He’s headed to Osaka today while we are headed to Hiroshima. Unfortunately, there’s the language barrier, so we were unable to communicate much. Not that many Japanese speak conversational English.

Ah, the most high tech phallic symbol around, the newest N700 series.

Our train arrives, also a N700 series.

Easily the nicest train of the trip. Only 4 seats per row, so tons of space. Not only that, this is also the quietest train that we’ve been on this whole trip. Everyone is super quiet and courteous on this train ride.

Second part of lunch, and try to get caught up on some blogging.

The man sitting across from us is reading manga.

Still raining outside.

How nice, even on the trains, they print out the direction that the train is heading.

In a bit over an hour, we’ve reached Hiroshima. Wish all of our train rides could be as comfortable. Oh yeah, even though quite a bit of Japanese smoke, there is no smoking on the shinkansen.

Now, we’ve gotta transfer to a local train that’ll take us to Miyajima.

Not all the signs are in English, so the easiest way for us to find the platform is to actually ask a station attendant. Unlike other countries, station attendants in Japan are always super helpful and knowledgeable.

Here’s our train. We liked the mustard yellow that it’s painted in. This is a JR train, so we ride for free with our pass!

Again, another comfortable ride.

In under 30 minutes, we’ve reached our stop in the outskirts of Hiroshima. Straight ahead is the ferry station.

Two ferry companies, one run by JR and another by some other company. Guess which one we’ll be using.

Free ride!

Every 15 minutes, not too bad.

Miyajima is right cross from us, a short ride.

It’s still raining just a little bit out here.

Tired from having to haul our packs around. You’d think that after all of our walking and climbing, we’d have gotten more fit by now. Nope. If anything, RL and I both agree that it’s actually harder for us to walk up and down stairs with our packs now than it was in the beginning of our trip. Or maybe we just forgot how tough it was in the beginning.

Not sure what those are. Oyster farms? This region of Japan produces a lot of oysters.

The famous torii gate of the Itsukushima Shrine. This is the main reason why everyone visits this place. That torii gate in the middle of the water is one of the most famous sights in Japan. The torii gate has actually had to be rebuilt several times.  This one is the eighth gate I believe.

We’ve arrived! It’s raining…hopefully it won’t pick up.

Lots of free roaming deer on the island.

It’s pretty touristy over here on Miyajima. This is the main shopping drag.

Supposedly the world’s biggest wooden spoon.

After a short walk, we’ve reached our ryokan, traditional Japanese inn.

Got a great feeling about this!! Many ryokans are run by families, and that’s the case with ours. It’s run by a married couple.

Here’s the proprietress showing us how take a traditional Japanese bath, one of the keystone features in a ryokan.

Showing us our room.

Very nice! This is what $270 a night gets you. Our most expensive room on this trip, but that’s actually a little misleading. With the room comes with a very extensive Japanese dinner and breakfast.

We have a solarium.

And it looks out onto this quaint garden full of Moss!!! We love moss!!!

This is a little nontraditional for a ryokan, a private toilet for our room. Usually, all the bathroom facilities are shared. We appreciate the private toilet and sink though!!

There’s even a third floor lounge area in our ryokan with a view.

OK, it’s in the middle of the afternoon already. We unpacked a little and out the door we go to explore before it gets too dark. We need to be back by 7:00pm for dinner.

Moss!! I love moss!!!! Seriously, there’s so much moss in Japan, it’s so awesome.

Hello, cute little baby deer.

Peace, yo. That’s what it says…minus the yo.

Up ahead is the Itsukushima Shrine.

The whole shrine sits on stilts. In high tide, it sits completely over water. Right now, it’s in between high tide and low tide so it’s only partially submerged.

There’s the famous torii gate floating out of the water. It’s actually not connected to anything, but just sits out there under it’s own weight.

I’m gonna poop some more so you can sweep it up, sucka! Of course there’s a deer poop sweeper. Japan, you keep everything so clean!

There’s the entrance.

You are supposed to wash your hands and your mouth before entering the shrine.

We just washed our hands.

OK, now that we’ve partially cleansed ourselves, it’s time to enter the shrine.

To be continued at Miyajima Part 2.

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