Took the Shinkansen from Hakata to Hiroshima, and then transferred to a local train for the Miyajima ferry. Many throngs of tourists crowded onto the ferry. The ferry passed by the famed O’Torii gate on the right, all aboard madly taking photos, the ferry started listing to starboard. The weather was warm and sunny, beautiful cherry blossoms everywhere in full bloom, mostly pink and white. We left our bags at the hotel and walked along the shore toward the O’Torii gate and the stark Itsukushima Shinto shrine.
Keith wanted to explore the aquarium, so Anne & Peter decided to climb Mt. Misen. We walked to the “ropeway” (cable car), switched half-way up the mountain to a gondola, all the while taking in gorgeous views of the Hiroshima channel and the Seto Inland Sea. At the top of the gondola cable, we walked about 1 1/2 miles to the top of Mt. Misen, lots of stairs and a steep climb. At about .5 miles left, we happened upon another Buddhist temple called Kiezu-no-hi, the original location of the eternal flame, supposedly burning for 1200 years and the original site of the eternal flame that burns at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Climbing up more stairs we passed by whale rock, duck under rock, ship rock, scabies rock and ebb & flow rock. Reaching the summit at 535 meters, we ascended an observation platform with 360° views of the beautiful Seto Sea and its hundreds of islands, large and small. Pete and Anne proceeded down the mountain negotiating very steep stairs and following a tumbling creek and deep canyon. The creek is fortified at many locations by large cement blocks preventing massive landslides. A typhoon caused a massive landslide in 1945, devastating the island.
About 1 hour later Pete and Anne were again at sea level and purchased tickets for the Itsukushima shrine, a world heritage site dedicated to Shinto goddesses of the sea, traffic safety, fortune and accomplishment. The shrine, first constructed in 593 and remodeled in 1168, is built over a sea inlet. The shrine is unique for its simplistic construction and artistic beauty, framed by the island mountains to the East and in perfect alignment with the O’Torii gate to the West.
The O’Torii gate, painted with red lacquer to keep away the evil spirits and prevent corrosion, is 17 meters high and weighs 60 tons. Erected in 1875, high tide covers the bottom pillars, but tourists can actually walk out to the gate in low tide. The main pillars (10 meters high) are made from camphor, the supporting pillars made from cedar. The top rail is hollow and filled with stones, thus supporting its own weight.
We dined at a local Izakaya on a variety of sea food including eel, fried chicken, tomatoes and tofu.