Miyajima

A small picturesque island south of Hiroshima, Miyajima is home to the famous (well, if you’re Japanese anyway) Itsukushima-jinja. The “floating shrine” contained inside is considered one of the country’s top three views; it’s dubbed “floating” since it’s built on the sea-bed and – at high-tide – appears to float on the water.

Combine this with a nice little ferry ride and some other templery dotted around the place and you have the makings of a fine half day trip from Hiroshima.

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Needless to say, with impeccable timing I caught low-tide: there may be a typhoon on the approach that will swamp the island and all of western Japan along with it, but today I get low tide.

This said, however, the view was still very impressive. I think the looming skies help…

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And…as noted before, temples are more interesting than shrines. You wander around underneath it and try to dress it up in a nice photograph but basically you’re done after about 30 seconds (unless there’s a golden sunset in progress fronted by blooming cherry blossom…both being in very short supply on a stormy July afternoon).

So, plenty of time for the other stuff; Misen-san supposedly offers wonderful views of the island and environs but was closed due to the impending typhoon.

The temple of Daisho-in was “kind of” open; kind of, since I was allowed to just roam around the grounds after some hand motions with some monks/workers. One of the workers was quite memorable in that he had the physique you usually only see in statues of the Buddha: all muscle, big neck. He was carrying what turned out to be a parcel but could just have easily been a granite block. I had always presumed those statues to be stylised; now I know better.

Aside from this revelation the temple does a nice line in colourful miniature statues…

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A small park, Momiji-dani-koen, where the ropeway/cable-car terminus lies, provides a few minutes distraction before heading off towards the temple of Itsukushina-jinja itself.

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This temple, similar to the shrine, is built on the sea-bed. Again, it’s “kind of” open – I wander around the whole building without paying anything even though I’m pretty sure I should… Anyway, again, while it would be nice to see these things at full-tide they’re still pretty entertaining even on their day off.

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