Leaving Kyoto, we headed off to Miyajima. On the way to Miyajima, we thought we’d have a quick stop in Hiroshima. We dropped our bags off in one of the many coin lockers and caught the tram to the Hiroshima Peace Park.
It’s a pretty sobering experience, in particular the Hiroshima museum. Unfortunately, half the museum was undergoing redevelopment, but the sections we saw were very well presented and really drives home the immensity of the destruction and loss of life in the city.
Getting back on the train, we made our way to Miyajimaguchi from where you catch the ferry across the straight to get to the island of Miyajima.
We were only spending the one night in Miyajima; we were staying at the Watanabe Inn, a Ryokan as recommended by some friends. Our generous hosts picked us up from the ferry terminal and took us back to the inn where on check in we were given hot towels, tea and a small snack before being shown to our room (where we sampled some of the local beer which was appreciated in the warm, humid weather).
We had a wander around Miyajima, said hello to some deer and made sure that we were at the Great Torii Gate at sunset which was a very impressive sight.
Back at the Ryokan we had an amazing dinner cooked by our hosts. This was our first ryokan experience and it was glorious; delicious food in a private dining room dressed in our yukatas with the sound of a flowing stream coming through the window… heaven!
After dinner, still dressed in our yukatas, we wandered around the now mostly deserted town with all the day-trippers having gone back to the mainland. The tide was out by this time and we were able to walk right up to the Great Torii Gate.
The next day was overcast and muggy but we wanted to walk up Mount Misen. There are a number of trails that you can do, and even a cable car, but in the end we decided to walk not to the main summit of mount Misen, but rather to take the Daisho-in trail up the mountain and go to the Komaga-Bayashi summit. To our surprise there was literally no one else on this other summit (which is only slightly lower than the main peak of mount Misen) so we had the place to ourselves.
On the way down we took the Omoto hiking trail which descends through a mossy, boulder-strewn forest feeling like something out of a Studio Ghibli film.
We could have easily spent another night in Miyajima but we had to head off to our next destination, Himeji.