Natalie Goes to Japan

40 year old very married blonde woman having a midlife crisis who heads to Japan alone to follow her dreams. Be careful what you wish for ... you just may get it.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Me in Miyajima

The second day of my trip was spent on the lovely nearby island of Miyajima. It has one of the most photographed sites in all of Japan...and that's saying something. This is the floating gate off the shrine of Itsukushima. Getting there was really quite simple, and cheap. You just take correct colored bus/tram and go to the end of the line (about an hour). The tram I was on was packed with a tour group of English people, who were quite entertaining. When you get off the tram you tell the ticket taker where you got on, and they charge you accordingly. Very trusting. Then I walked over to the ferry. I chose the less good ferry, apparently. The JR ferry made a longer trip, but got close to the gate for picture taking. As you leave the docks you are met by the island deer, who start making demands for you to feed them. I quickly made my escape and wandered around. Eventually I made my way up to the skytram and decided that sounded good. It's quite steep, and not for the faint of heart, and actually you have to transfer to a different tram before you reach the top. But once there you are at the top of the island with views of Hiroshima and all the other small islands dotting the sea. There is also a monkey reserve at the top, but I guess the monkeys had previous engagements and were nowhere to be found. Well, it didn't take long to see my fill, and I headed down again. You can hike, which would be lovely, but I knew my feet weren't up to it. After my tram ride I stopped at a nearby outdoor restaurant that served udon. It was lovely sitting on a pillow on a low platform and eating my lunch outdoors. Then I went in search of a nearby temple I had read about. Well, Daisho-in was very nice. Very beautiful buildings tucked into the foot of a mountainside. Little statuary everywhere. I stopped and lit incense and a candle and made my prayers. One of the boxes with fortunes in it, had writing in English on the side, which is unusual. So I bought my fortune. But it was all in Japanese. My Japanese is just good enough that I was able to ask a Japanese sightseer if the fortune was good, bad or so-so. She found the naka symbol which means middle, therefor so-so. I tied the fortune to a rack of other fortunes, as is the tradition, but I'm never sure why. I decided it was finally time to go see Itsukushima shrine, hoping that most of the major tour groups would have moved on by then. I was surprised they had an entrance fee (only $3), but paid. The shrine is built on pilings at the edge of the bay, and luckily it was high tide, so the shrine was surrounded by shallow water. I got my picture taken in front of the gate...which is mandatory, or they sacrifice you to the god of photography. The shrine is a lovely building, but as a site it is very minimalist. You just walk along, and look at the bay, and then it's over. Kind of like a very beautiful, covered boardwalk. Well, I decided it was souvenier shopping and snack time, and walked over to a vending machine and bought an ice cream. As I was sitting on my bench, looking at the peaceful bay on a beautiful autumn day, a crunching sound erupted right beside me. A deer was in the process of snatching my newly bought postcard. I grabbed one end of it, and had a tug of war with the fearsome beast. Alas she won. But the post card slipped out of the paper bag it was in as she made her get away. My newly retrieved postcard now has deer teethmarks on it. The postcard is a lovely watercolor of the gate, and the mountain and bay, with peaceful looking deer lying in front. Hah. Now that's irony. I planned on doing more souvenier shopping, but I couldn't find a garbage can in which to put my dripping ice cream wrapper. By the time I found one, I was back at the ferry landing and not about to turn around and go back. I had seen on the map that I could take the "World Heritage Cruise" back to Peace Park, and that sounded nice and interesting. So I paid my 20 bucks and got on board. It was a nice trip, but it was no "World Heritage Cruise". It was more like a water taxi. It got us from point a to point b a few minutes faster than the bus. But there was no narration, or points of interested pointed out to us. But the sun was setting through some puffy clouds and made for nice photographs. That night for dinner I went to a tapas bar in the shopping arcade and had several tapas and some sangria. Then I went back to the bar I went before (Kemby's) and had another drink and watched MTV and had a nice chat with a young Japanese nurse. Wandered back to my hotel on another gorgeous night and hit the sack to get ready for another day of sightseeing.


At 4:51 PM, Blogger cat-chan the karaoke princess said...

I loved Miyajima too! I especially enjoyed walking in a yukata at night, just looking out to the water and the lit-up torii. It was such a peaceful feeling. :)


Post a Comment

<< Home