Miya Jima

On a bit of a whim last Sunday, I decided to catch the local bus to Hiroshima City to meet some friends. I caught the 8:30am bus and arrived at the Hiroshima bus center around 10:30am.  I walked to a local park to watch some baseball and enjoy lunch before meeting my friends for an afternoon of Ultimate Frisbee.

Across from the frisbee field was a bi-weekly flea market, featuring an outgrageous amount of used clothing, and a live performance by a large group of musicians playing everything from a xylophone to a djembe. It was a surprising treat.

The frisbee game drew an interesting crowd of participants, including a couple of locals that I befriended and hope to see again in a future visit to Hiroshima.

Hiroshima is a beautiful city, and one that I feel comfort in even though it is significantly larger than any city I’ve spent a great deal of time in before. It has the feeling of Duluth to me, but with taller buildings and more people.

That evening we took a ferry to Miya Jima – the famous island where the Itsukushima Shrine is located. The floating torii of Miya Jima are one of the most famous sites in Japan. The sun was setting as we took the ferry across the channel…

Once on the island we decided to try some of the famous local fare – Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki. The island had numerous okonomiyaki restaurants, so we chose based on proximity due to our heavy packs. Two of us ordered omochi okonomiyaki, while the other two had fried garlic okonomiyaki. Both were delicious, and we used up an entire spare bottle of okonomi sauce in the process of finishing them…

The sun was setting quickly and we had yet to find a campsite to set up our tents for the night. We eventually found a taxi and caught a ride to the other side of the island. The weather was spectacular – about 22 degrees Celsius, almost a full moon, and not a cloud in the sky. We built a fire and spent the night roasting marshmallows and discussing interesting books we’ve read lately.

I ended up sleeping out of the tent as the weather was so mild. I read a little bit before falling asleep and found myself in a comfortable doze within moments of closing my eyes.

Only to be awakened by a thief in the middle of the night…

A tanuki (“raccoon dog”) had stolen my book! I had no choice but to leap from my sleeping bag, pajama-less, and chase the animal down. Luckily for me, the book was heavy, and the tanuki quickly realized he/she would have to drop it or be caught in a physical encounter with a half-asleep nude foreigner.

The rest of the night was relatively calm, other than a few meandering deer I was left alone, and I stored my book under my pillow until morning.

The next day my friends took the ferry back into Hiroshima for some shopping while I wandered around Miya Jima, as it was my first time visiting and they had all been there before.

Miya Jima is well-known for its friendly deer.  I enjoyed their presence profusely, and although I refused to feed them, they seemed to appreciate my willingness to scratch behind their ears and rub their bellies.

Some even partook in the delicious Miya Jima fare…next in line please:

Mt. Misen is a short climb from the main shrine, and I undertook part of the journey with the free time I had. Along the way I encountered some unexpected shrines.

As part of the experience, I had to take the classic photo of Miya Jima’s floating torii, which I was able to see during high tide:

But I then decided to attempt to find some more unique photo opportunities…

Including an over-friendly deer:

A wedding procession:

The top of a pagoda:

And finally, a view from above – on the way to Mt. Misen.

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