Miyajima Island

After the sad first day in Hiroshima, I needed something uplifting. A trip to nearby Miyajima Island, best known for its floating torii gate at the entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine.

The torii is the traditional Japanese gate usually found at the entrance of a Shinto shrine

This one is special though, and it might easily be one of the most photographed objects in all of Japan: it seems to be floating on the water.

Well. I arrived at low tide and you can actually walk out to the gate and touch it. It seems to be a sport or bring good luck to throw yen coins onto it. If the Japanese Mint ever is looking for its money, it just has to dig around the torii. You’re walking on coins like it was Scrooge McDuck’s money bin.

The island, actually called Itsukushima but nicknamed the ‘shrine island’ (Miyajima), is beautiful. Albeit very touristy. The main street in the little village is packed with touristy shops selling plastic torii, food, and rice spats, the local product.

Miyajima has a great number of other Buddhist temples, the most beautiful sits on top of Mount Misen. I took the funicular up there and then waked the last 100m up to the temple with the eternal flame. Legend has it it is the same fire the first buddhist monk lightened some 1200 years ago.

The real treat though is the 360-view on top of the mountain. 530m above sea level, you have a perfect view over to Hiroshima, and over the bay.

I spent the whole day on the island, had some more okonomiyaki, the local specialty layered pasta omelette, and waited for the water to return just before sunset.

While many tourists had the same idea and where flocking around the torii, the island became in fact wonderfully quiet, with most day trippers already back on the ferry towards Hiroshima.

The only annoying thing were the tourist boats that constantly went through the gate, turning, and then going back again – cursed by all the photographers who wanted the torii to themselves…