Published: April 13th 2006March 26th 2006
Perfectly aligned, one of Denise's signature pictures.
Not too far from the city, out in Hiroshima Bay, lies Miyajima (the Banff of Hiroshima?), a small touristy island with several sights and lots of history. We were to spend the better part of our day there, but sore feet and uncooperative weather cut our visit short. Miyajima is home to the famous 'Floating' Torii
, a Shinto shrine gate just off-shore from the island (so famous in fact that I was in awe and forgot to take a picture). Unfortunately, when the tide is low the gate is surrounded by mud and is most definitely not
floating. But it's quite large and has been around for about 1500 years, so that makes up for its lack of floatyness - and yes, that is a real word.
The first thing you notice when you step off the ferry isn't the beautiful landscape or the throngs of (bloody) tourists, but the very tame and friendly deer everywhere. You can even pet the babies without getting hooved by mama or having papa ram a horn up your rectum! Denise didn't take me up on my $5 bet to ride one. I think she was worried about rabies.
After seeing the islands
I wonder if you can steal them?
main attractions, the Itsukushima-jinja
and Senjo-kaku and pagoda, we decided to make our way to the cable car and ride it to the top of Misen to get a nice panoramic view of Hiroshima, the Seto Inland Sea, and the rest of the island. However, the weather was poor and the ropeway was shut down as a result - the light drizzle had stopped but apparently it was still too windy. I found this odd because they kept the ropeway open and running the whole time (we hung around deciding what to do next) to bring all the tourists down from the mountain top, and not one person stepped off looking like they just survived the most harrowing ordeal of their lives. I guess it's OK to come down, but going up, boy...that's just looking for trouble. We thought about making the ascent, but feet issues prevented this, so we had a casual stroll through town before boarding the ferry back to Hiroshima.
I've had my Clark sandals - the greatest shoes in existence - for almost seven years. They were like sex for your feet they were so comfy! Sadly, they're at the end of their life and
Shinto shrine built on stilts so that commoners wouldn't sully the noble soil of Miyajima. Well, someone's sure high and mighty...
it was time to replace them with a younger, more attractive pair of shoes. I am now sporting a spiffy new pair of Nike sandals and my feet are thanking me. In memory of their dedicated and exemplary service, I'm going to have my Clarks bronzed. It is indeed a sad day in the world of footwear.
With new shoes and a tummy full of food, we walked the eastern side of downtown around Kyobashigawa river and up Hiyajima park to get some good views of the city. We capped off the day with a tram ride through the core for an early dinner and a good nights sleep.
On Monday, first thing on the agenda was to obtain my re-entry permit. This allows me to freely come and go from Japan; otherwise without it once I leave the country my visa would be invalid. Government bureaucracy at its best! We find the Government Legal Administration Office and were directed to Immigration on the 11th floor. Here's how it went: person 'A' directed us to the office next door where person 'B' gave us the necessary forms and told us to go to the 2nd floor of the
Enter at your own risk
Itsukushima-jinja torii tunnel entrance.
next building and talk with person 'C' to buy a $60 stamp - the cost of my re-entry permit - then come back to the 11th floor, fill out the forms, give them back to person 'A' (whom we spoke with in the first place) who then gives us a number so we can sit around for over an hour until person 'D' returns my passport complete with my little tiny re-entry permit.
All in all, considering the government was involved, I think it went rather well.
With my feet still hurting from yesterday we decided to take it easy and limit our walking because, apparently, I'm getting too old for this shit and aches and pains have nothing to do with 7-year-old shoes. Right next door to the government offices is Hiroshima-jo, a 16th century castle that was all but destroyed by the bomb. It was rebuilt in 1958 and lacks that historical feel you'd usually get from such a building. Quite possibly, the vending machines on the top floor viewing deck and the big air-conditioner hanging off the side wall just might
have had something to do with it, too. Because Hiroshima is a big, flat
Ummm...it's a big pagoda...could be turned into a library some day. Oh, and it's bright orange!
expanse with modern, tall office blocks in the core, the view from the observation platform is a little bland. Don't get me wrong, being five floors up still yields an impressive view of the cityscape, but you certainly don't get that distant, sweeping vista you'd see from, say...the CN Tower.
To cap off our visit we enjoyed a quiet picnic on the river of the Peace Park overlooking the A-Bomb Dome, before catching our bus back to Masuda. Camille & Denise
There are more photos below