Hiroshima/Miyajima Part Three, Miyajima Ropeway, Shishiwa

 Japan, Photos, Travel  Comments Off on Hiroshima/Miyajima Part Three, Miyajima Ropeway, Shishiwa
Oct 312007

I spent about 30-40 minutes at Itsukushima Shrine, then had to hoof it up the mountain to the ropeway, because it was starting to get late in the day.

The Ropeway is a gondola-type thing that hangs from a cable system and carries you up the mountains, because otherwise you’d be there climbing for a few days. The path up to the Ropeway station at the bottom is pretty, albeit slightly cardiac-arrest-inducing. You’ll pass some very pretty scenes and more deer.

If you’re planning on a trip to Japan, and you want to go to places like Miyajima, then you’d better be in good shape, or else you will surely regret it.

From the Shrine to the Ropeway

Leaving the Shrine, I passed a canal and some shops:

Backstreets of Miyajima

Another shot of the canal and a bridge:


On the way, I saw this giant rice paddle at a restaurant:

Giant Rice Paddle

Then I passed through one of the neighborhoods:

Streets of Miyajima

On the way to the Ropeway, I passed some o-torii. There’s a shrine nearby, but I didn’t have time to visit:


And then I crossed this bridge, and was close to the Ropeway station:


The upside to the ropeway is that it offers incredible views. The downside is that it’s 1,800 yen round-trip. There’s usually an option to go one-way (up) and walk down a road past more shrines and temples, but the road got washed out by a typhoon, and it would take hours, anyway. So I went round-trip.

Get the Rope! (Ropeway, that is!)

As I left the station and started the trip up to the top of Mt. Misen, I started taking pictures.

The station from my little car:

On the Ropeway to Shishiwa Station on Mt. Misen

Heading up the ropeway, you can see the other cars coming back:

On the Ropeway to Shishiwa Station on Mt. Misen

The view from the Ropeway is incredible. This is Miyajima-Guchi, where I took the ferry. I just wish there was a cable filter:

Miyajima-Guchi from the Ropeway

DyDo Drinco supports my trip!

DyDo Drinco Supports My Trip...

There was this little beat-up box that would supposedly give me a narration for 100 yen, but I didn’t want to risk 100 yen on it. The black lump is my backpack:

Looking out the Window...

At Kayatani Station, I had to change from a small car to a big car. There goes my privacy!

Changing Cars Halfway Up

Looks like I’ll have it all to myself:

Bigger Gondola

Views from the bigger car are still incredible:

View of a Small Town

Mt. Misen Summit/Shishiwa

After about 20 minutes of riding various cars, I made it to the top of the mountain. The sun hadn’t set yet, I exposed this shot for the sky:

Mt. Misen Summit/Shishiwa

The views from the top are incredible. Really incredible. Just wonderful. I went right around sunset, and was rewarded. But I couldn’t stay too long, because the ropeway closes at 5:30 p.m.

I’m not sure my camera could capture the beauty of these views. I guess I’ll have to go back to Miyajima when I come back to Japan.

Anyway, here are some of my efforts to capture the beauty of the views. Enjoy.

Inland Sea

Inland Sea

Inland Sea

Inland Sea

I used the zoom here to zoom in on Hiroshima. You can see one of the Ropeway stations.

Hiroshima from Mt. Misen

I headed to the observation platform to take more pictures. It almost felt like you could just sail off the cliff. (You couldn’t, it was perfectly safe. It’s just an optical illusion.)

Observation Deck

One of the islands:

Inland Sea

Another island:

Inland Sea

I like this shot.

Inland Sea

View of the inland sea

The sun started to go behind the summit:

Mt. Misen Sunset

Mt. Misen Sunset

Sunset over the Inland Sea:

Sunset over the Inland Sea

Sunset over the Inland Sea

On the way down the mountain, Miyajima-Guchi from the Ropeway again. This time, you can see the ferry at the bottom:

Miyajima-Guchi from the Ropeway

I came back down the mountain to the ferry, then back to Hiroshima on the train.

Down the Mountain

On the way back to town, a few night shots. It’s a little blurry, but I like this shot of the bridge I crossed earlier at night. (Long exposure.)

Bridge at Night, long exposure

The shops were all closing:

Closing Time

A last shot of the big red O-torii at night. 1-second exposure:

Itsukushima Torii at Night

Guidebooks often say, “It’s a 26 minute train ride, followed by a 10 minute ferry ride.” That does not mean it’ll take you 36 minutes to get there. It’s more like an hour, because you wind up waiting.

Another thing– that cute wooden ichimatsu doll I bought in Kyoto for 1,580 yen? I found the same one here for 1,000 yen. In two stores here. Caveat emptor. It’s only 580 yen, but that’s a bento.

I rushed over to the department store to pick up dinner before it closed, and attempted to do laundry, only to discover that the dryers don’t work very well. So now it’s off to the laundromat down the street to finish up.

Tomorrow is Fukuoka/Hakata, and lots of non-shrine stuff.

Really, if you come to Japan, go to Hiroshima! There are some hard truths and beautiful views waiting for you. And the people are really nice.

Hiroshima/Miyajima Part Two, Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima

 Japan, Photos, Travel  Comments Off on Hiroshima/Miyajima Part Two, Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima
Oct 312007

Ferry to Miyajima

Approaching Miyajima by Ferry

After a one-hour rest break, I left for Miyajima, one of the three most beautiful sights in Japan, according to something someone famous said in the 17th century. Miyajima, the Heavenly Bridge near Kyoto, and Matsushima were the three most beautiful sights in Japan. To this day, they’re all “must see” places.

So far, he’s absolutely right. Miyajima is definitely a must-see if you’re going to Hiroshima. It’s also a good place to get all of the death and destruction of the past out of your brain, too.

JR runs a ferry a block away from the Miyajimaguchi station. Follow the crowds of people running. They’re probably all running to catch the ferry. The ferry is pretty cheap– 340 yen for a round trip. The JR pass might cover it, but I didn’t want to waste time finding out, because I didn’t want to miss it. They collect the tickets on the Miyajima side. If you want to go round trip, don’t lose your tickets.

So the first thing you’ll see is the big O-torii. (I’m not calling it an O-torii gate, because that’s sort of like saying “Hot water heater.” O-torii means “Gate” in Japanese anyway.) It’s a stunning sight with the Itsukushima Shrine right behind it. If you’re going to Miyajima, bring the best camera you have. I was made painfully aware of the limitations of the camera I brought with me here. I guess that’s where I sacrificed to save weight.

Anyway, some photos as I approached Miyajima:

Approaching Miyajima by Ferry

Closeup of the big red o-torii:

Approaching Miyajima by Ferry

Getting close to town:

Approaching Miyajima by Ferry

Itsukushima Shrine

I got off of the ferry and headed to Itsukushima Shrine. On the way, you’ll pass another one of those huge rows of souvenir shops that litter every famous site in Japan. If you want cheap stuff, this is the place to get it. If you want nice stuff, look elsewhere. I prefer to get the little cheap cell phone straps that come randomly out of the 200 yen machines. So far I have the Geisha from Kyoto, the deer from Nara, and the red O-torii from Miyajima.

Another thing about Miyajima is that they have more sacred deer here, and that means more sacred deer poop. Watch your step.

I saw a deer tearing up the men’s room, going after the trash to try to find a snack, I guess. Didn’t get a photo, though. Dang.

On to the shire itself. It’s everything I expected it to be. Gorgeous. I took plenty of pictures, and enjoyed the scenery. Have a look.

Entering the shrine, komainu guard the entrance:

Itsukushima Shrine--Main Gate

As I turned the corner, there was a good spot to get a zoomed in shot of the big red o-torii (it’s actually a good distance away):

Itsukushima Shrine--Torii

Entering the shrine:

Itsukushima Shrine Entrance

The walkways around the shrine buildings:

Itsukushima Shrine

I like this shot:

Itsukushima Shrine

Looking back towards the land, you can see a pagoda towering above:

Itsukushima Shrine

More photos of the buildings:

Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima Shrine

Main Shrine area:

Itsukushima Shrine

More o-torii:

Itsukushima Shrine--Torii

This bridge is a national treasure. Forgot the name:

Itsukushima Shrine

This is one of my favorite shots:

Itsukushima Shrine--Torii

This one’s not bad, either. Cranes in the frame:

Itsukushima Shrine--Torii

In part three, I head up to the Miyajima Ropeway, and get some good photos from the top of the mountain on the island.

Hiroshima/Miyajima Part One, Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum

 Japan, Photos, Travel  Comments Off on Hiroshima/Miyajima Part One, Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum
Oct 312007

I had a big day in Hiroshima and Miyajima today.

I started off with a trip to what they call “The A-Bomb Dome.” (The Genbaku Dome if you want to say it in Japanese.) It’s a famous building that was still standing after the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Other buildings were left standing, too, but they were all demolished later on. This one was preserved in spite of some protests that the city should move on and clear the site.

It’s a very moving site. It’s one of those things everyone should see. I took photos, so maybe you can get a feel for the place.

As I came to the site, I took this shot of the exterior:

Genbaku Dome

Walking around the outside of the building:

Genbaku Dome

More exterior shots:

Genbaku Dome

Genbaku Dome

Genbaku Dome

Genbaku Dome

Genbaku Dome Closeup

Some photos of the interior of the building:

Genbaku Dome

Genbaku Dome-- Interior

Genbaku Dome-- Interior shot

There are a bunch of shrines and memorials around the Peace Park area. There’s even one for conscripted Korean and Chinese laborers who died in the blast working for the Japanese against their will.


Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Shrine, and Museum

Moving across the river towards the Peace Park, two last looks at the Genbaku Dome:

Genbaku Dome from across the river

Genbaku Dome Close-up

I also had a look at the main memorial in front of the Peace Museum.

Approaching the memorial flame:

Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum

Getting closer in:

Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum

Zooming in a bit more:

Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum

Extreme detail:

Memorial Flame closeup

Better shot of the memorial flame:

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Memorial Shrine from the pond side:

Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum

The Shrine is designed so that as you approach it, you can see the Genbaku Dome:

Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Shrine

Another shot:

Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Shrine

I moved on to the Peace Museum. I find it really hard to put my feelings about this into words. The donated items on display underlined the horror of the bombing. Many of the items were things like “School Uniform of ____-san, who survived the blast but died 2 days later,” or “____-san was never found, but this shredded uniform of his was.” I think the part that hit the hardest were the pictures of the kids who died so horribly.

If you haven’t read it, you should read Hiroshima by John Hershey.

The students from a girls’ junior high school were downtown with some other students helping clear out a demolished area, when they were hit by the blast. It was all very sad, and very horrible.

There were a lot of torn clothes on display– they were torn because they were blown off of the people wearing them. The clothes were found, but the often people never were.

There were also stories about the people who weren’t lucky enough to die right away, but instead received lethal doses of radiation and died soon after. I’ll spare you the details, but they were pretty horrendous.

After I finished visiting the museum, I walked around a bit, and then had lunch, since I had skipped breakfast in anticipation of the museum. (Life does go on.)

I think that every person who can should come to Hiroshima and see this. It’s the sort of thing that changes the way you see the world.

I think this is a good spot to wrap up this post. The Miyajima content will get its own post.

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