Honeymoon Blog/Picts - Day 7
- Last updated on March 13, 2009 at 12:16 pm
- 1 comment
Miyajima Island: (As told by Andrew)
"We began our day knowing exactly what we wanted to do. This was on Marla’s list of places she wanted to see while in Japan and so this day was given to just Miyajima Island and nothing else. We would soon find out that after this day we would have nothing left for anything else. Miyajima definitely took every last bit of our energy to explore.
We awoke, showered and clothed ourselves in our remaining clean clothes. I have rather wearing my “travel pants” during the trip which are a pair of REI thin, breathable pants that are perfect in any weather. Mom and Dad got them for me as a wedding present along with our backpacks that we’re using for the trip. These are also REI brand and wonderful, sturdy and perfect for a two week stint in any condition. We had a “western” buffet at the hotel, because it was free and we love free things, especially food. I love how the Japanese think. Obviously they have heard of this “brunch” that Americans do from time to time and have included brunch type items in their buffets. They have everything from eggs and cereal to spaghetti and green beans. Of course we tried a bit of everything. It was all, once again, very good.
Okay, back to Miyajima which we arrived at via JR. A short walk and we boarded the JR owned ferries that would take us the ten minute ride to Miyajima Island. We arrived knowing a bit of history and also knowing that the island is home of one of Japan’s more famous landmarks, O-torii, the temple arch that greets you as you enter the bay. It was pretty much beautiful from all sides. I tried to capture as many good pics of it as I could. Marla tried to avoid the huge crowd of furry deer as we wandered the lower area of the island. They are kinda creepy in the sense that they have no fear of humans. They sleep right in the middle of the street not really caring about really anything other than if you have something for them to eat. We saw a small pack of them later hunt down and messily devour a poor hapless cardboard box. Poor box.
On the way up to the top, the pathway leads you through town, through shops that sell the exact same thing: prayer paddles, little geisha dolls and miniatures of the arch. Every shop. Same stuff. But they were just a small part of the hike. We soon found ourselves at a large shrine, Senjokaku, that was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but left unfinished when the warlord died. The large airy hall was originally a library for Buddhist sutras. Large wooden beams structured to create its support system. There was little to no metal used at all. Even the nails were wooden, but it has held up after all this time, its age shown by the polished look of the floor obviously worn down by billions of footfalls over thousands of years.
Outside the shrine was another five-story pagoda and beneath it was a diseased palm that should have fallen over years ago if it had not been for the supports the community have put beneath it making have an upside-down “L” shape to it. A symbol that trees are not felled by human hands for the entire forest is virgin forest, nothing is cut down, all wood is shipped to the island for construction.
As we wandered further up the hill, we came to Momiji-dani-koen, a leafy hillside park and the site of the Iwaso Ryokan, where Marla dreams of staying once she and Andrew become filthy rich. The park and burbling brooks were outstanding and the weather was perfect. We continued our leisurely stroll upwards.
Finally it was time to tackle the mountain but we had no idea what that entailed because looking at the local maps it seems relatively easy, just a short jaunt and you’re at the top. But that was far from reality. They have built an impressive array of steep steps directly up the mountain. It was a mix of ancient and modern steps but they were all tough on our legs. Close to 2.5k worth of them. Many times along the way we had to stop just to catch our breath and rest our burning thighs and calves.
We’ve been walking alot while here but nothing like this. Along the path though are many places to take in the majestic scenery and plenty of photo ops.
Sky began to break through the canopy and I knew we were close to the top and just then another surprise: monkeys! A whole troop of baboon-like monkeys crossed our path. Now I didn’t know if they were good monkeys or bad monkeys so we kept our distance. I didn’t want the headlines to read: “American couple on Honeymoon dragged away by Monkeys!” We would come to find out that they were harmless and quite lazy. We got a few good looks at some mother and child monkeys and one in particular sat and watched us walk by.
Finally we were at the top and it was a wonderful feeling. Several shrines were there to greet us, this included the famous Kiezu-no-Reikado whose fire was used to light the eternal flame at the Memorial Peace Park in Hiroshima. Up to the left of the shrine was another stepped path leading up to a lookout that allowed you a 360 degree view of the island and it’s surroundings. It was a gorgeous day but the familiar haze of the Japan coast created a foggy dissipation to the landscape falling off into various hues of blue. We rested for a bit listening to the breeze through the trees and gulped down much needed water.
Exhausted we had a slight moment of clarity and decided to take the ropeway down the mountain instead of the way we came up. The ropeway was a series of gondola cars that took you down a scenic route to the ferry. As we rode down the beautiful and scenic route, we realized that perhaps we had gone about our day with Mt. Misen the wrong way... we should have ridden UP, then walked DOWN.... silly Americans.
Our eyelids were heavy as too was our legs as we took the final bus down to the coast to take the 5:30 ferry back to the mainland. We looked back upon the island as a new found friend whose embrace will be sorely missed in the years to come. I’m glad I took some many pics as I know we will want to remember this day for a long time."