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Exploring Miyajima and Hiking Mount Misen in one day

Another long day ahead, I set the alarm for 5am, to take one of the first ferries to Miyajima and enjoy the day properly without having to run. With time for a small hike and maybe bike. And that kind of happened… I indeed woke up at 5 am, I double checked the flyer with the touristic info for Miyajima and I saw a small detail…, the first ferry is at 8:30. Damn, can I go back to sleep? I did try indeed… I guess I was ready for Mount Misen!

Itsukushima Shrine
Itsukushima Shrine

Re-awaking one hour and a half later, I had my morning shower and went for breakfast, surprise surprise, my first Japanese style breakfast! Some rice balls with fish (tuna and salmon). It was strange at first, but it is actually really good and it fills the stomach in a light way, but I am European, so, I went back to the self-service area and I got something more western, croissant, cereals and milk.

Something that it is starting to annoy me a bit, is that even the hotel receptionists don’t talk English. This might be a selfish or maybe too western perspective, but I honestly don’t mind to have those awkward moments when I order food and I have no idea what I am eating, or when I am trying to guess what people are trying to say when I ask for help. But hotels’ receptionists? I was expecting more from them…

Lantern at the Itsukushima Shrine
Lantern at the Itsukushima Shrine

So, continuing with the misadventures, I took the tram to the train station, and the train to the ferry and… Oh wait… Does the flyer really says that the first ferry is at 8:30? Yes it does. What does the timetable say? 5am as I initially thought…

While waiting for the ferry, I did a fast Skype call to my brother, it is quite strange to talk with someone who is preparing to sleep when you just woke up. And when it is day where you are and dark night where he is. Oh sun, why don’t you shine for everyone?

Arriving in Miyajima, very small town which is cool considering the over populated country where I am now! I did a fast tour through the town, and I checked a few nice spots for some night photo shootings, and then I decided to go for a small hike to the “rope way”, the lift to the top of Mount Misen.

The torii with high tide
The torii with high tide

Funny thing about it, is that the moment I arrived in Miyajima one of the first things I read was how deadly some snakes, natives from that island, are. So, I found myself afraid of everything that moved even falling tree leaves. I think I deserve now the title of über-pussy…. The good part is the amount of deers I saw while walking, so many photos and cool moments I had.

When I arrived at the lift station, I saw a very nice sign saying that the lift was not working today due the bad weather, strong winds and lightning…. Oh nice, now what? I wanna see the top of Mount Misen!

View from Mount Misen
View from Mount Misen

I thought about giving up, I was starving, and so I saw a map with an alternative route from the town center, so, I decided to go back to eat, and come up again. But nice things happen, to the kolofardos. A few meters below I found a nice restaurant in the middle of the mountain! I had my lunch, while sitting on some Japanese style tables which aren’t big enough for my European legs.. and with the company of a French family and a deer!

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Since I had lunch, why not keep going up? So that’s what I did! I kept walking up, and it kind of reminded me of Peru, stairs and more stairs! At some point I met a very nice 63 years old man from San Diego, CA, really talkative and also a lonely traveler. I wish I had that confidence to talk and approach strangers that way, without sounding creepy. He kept talking with all the people that we crossed with, and we had a really nice chat about traveling and enjoying life when we can and not saving for later.

Hiking Mount Misen in Miyajima
Hiking Mount Misen in Miyajima

People often regret not enjoying life before the shit happens, so, why being afraid of what might happen, and why not enjoying while we can?

At some point, we met two guys from Canada, both quite young, I’d say they were around 26 tops. According to one of them, he is a young entrepreneur, second time this year that he can afford vacations while he has his business running smoothly! Another thing I wish I had the guts to do, I just lack good ideas for a start…

Me at one of Mount Misen's temples
Me at one of Mount Misen’s temples

Finally at the top of Mount Misen, and it totally worth the walk through the mountain! Just a small detail, I had no water and I had 4 km going down, hopefully with another restaurant on the way (since I was going to take the alternative path). Guess what? No, there isn’t any! I’m not sure if it was the thirsty, or if this alternative path really has more stairs and a bit longer, most of the time was downhill, but every now and then I had to go up a bit again.

The Torii in low tide
The Torii in low tide

Just at the beginning of the descent, I took the wrong path and I found a really cool small temple with a great view! All for myself, no one there! But well, I had to go to the main route again and keep going down. While going down, I realized that closing the lift due windy day was wise, it was really windy and a bit scary to be alone in the middle of the mountain with trees dancing around, and several trees already lying down… But I did it, and I got back to the town!

Exploring Miyajima town for a few hours

While I was getting closer to Miyajima town, I saw that the tide was low and that a lot of people were next to the tori, I kinda of regretted in the moment the fact that I visited the tori already, it would mean that I couldn’t get inside again without having to pay a new ticket…

That’s an impressive monument, and being next to it it is quite nice, I walked around a bit and then I was happy enough to go back to the town and relax another bit, with the book my Greek friends gave to me last year while having another cappuccino.

Booking.com

Why do I always drink cappuccino? Because everyone knows what that is, though, some people like to personalize it in such a way that it becomes some other kind of coffee beverage also named cappuccino… Details…

Well, something was still missing, postcards! And so far, I’ve noticed that here they sell a lot of junk, things that you know you don’t need and most probably you really won’t buy it anyway, but postcards were hard to find, and stamps is another problem but I am happy I managed to get what I wanted.

Exploring Miyajima town for a few hours
Exploring Miyajima town for a few hours

What else could I do? If not just keep walking around, it was already getting dark so no point in renting a bike for 1 hour, tops 2, and at some point I got a bit hungry, so I decided to try the traditional oysters, they were selling it in several different places and restaurants. Not bad, but I was expecting a meal and not just two oysters… That’s why Japanese people are thin and I am fat…

And finally night! Time for the night photo shooting, a few photos here, a few there, long exposures and different arrangements, and… What? Why can’t I shoot? Auto-focus on? Nope… Lack of storage? Nope, but soon it will happen… Battery? Oh no… Time to go back home! I should have prepared myself for that, but no…. Bah! Well, at least I took a few photos, better that than none. Let’s just see how do they look when I check them on the computer…

Nothing else to do, just time to take the ferry back to the mainland, the train and the tram to the hotel. Going to bed at 8pm, that was indeed a long day… Tomorrow another trip to a different city!

By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

One reply on “Exploring Miyajima and Hiking Mount Misen in one day”

My tradicional japanese breakfast: Bowl of rice, mixed with raw egg and soya souce. Delicious!!! I can’t remember the name, though

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