Slice of Life – Miyajima, Japan
On my Japan trip two months ago, we stopped by Miyajima (also known as Itsukushima), an idyllic island near Hiroshima, lush with trees and deer.
We took the Nozomi Express shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo, which got us there in about 4 hours. I ate my beef bento for lunch. In Tokyo, there’s no shortage of stores selling vast varieties of bento, or a single-portion boxed meal. I had a hard time choosing since they all looked so appetizing! The most popular ones tend to sell out early in the morning.
We hopped on the ferry to Miyajima…
…And found our ryokan, or Japanese inn, for the night: Ryoso Kawaguchi. It had a picturesque view, and was equipped with modern and clean furnishings.
Ryoso Kawaguchi is located next to a historic site marker, Kanatorii cross road.
We got to try out a traditional Japanese bath. You’re supposed to thoroughly slough off and wash yourself first under the showerhead before heading over to the communal “family bath,” which is filled with piping hot natural spring water.
The bath was the epitome of relaxation.
The rooms are decorated in the sparse, traditional way, with sliding doors and tatami mat-lined floors, which made me feel like I had stepped out of a period drama. Of course, we also had more modern amenities, such as a flush toilet (don’t forget to change into the separate bathroom slippers!), hot water boiler and room temperature control settings.
We stayed in the room named “Mokuran,” which could mean “tree orchid” or “color of silence,” depending on the Japanese spelling.
At dinner time, I had a view of the beautiful rock garden.
Our lively and gracious hostess spoke good English. She explained to us in great detail every course she served for our 9-course kaiseki dinner. Kaiseki Japanese cuisine is a series of aesthetically pleasing small dishes, meticulously prepared with fresh ingredients. The hushed ambiance, and the timing of each course with different scents and flavors mingling together, made the meal that much more enjoyable. It was just the right amount of food.
During the day, we checked out the little town of Miyajima, which is entirely walkable. I would recommend it for a day or day and a half excursion.
The sea is simply pristine.
This bridge reminds me of something lifted from a foreign film about the slow-paced nature of life.
Tourists come to see the famed torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine.
We kept running into deer everywhere we went.
This one even wanted his headshot taken! He sure is camera-ready. 🙂
Then I found out that Miyajima really takes their deer-friendliness seriously. On this island, humans and deer have peacefully co-existed for years. The deer are part of the wildlife and should be treated with respect. You’re not supposed to get too close to them or touch them. (I spotted some tourists clearly flouting this rule – perhaps they didn’t read the sign?)
We watched the deer as they dozed off to sweet slumber. It was actually rather endearing and unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. I’ve seen deer in upstate New York and the Poconos, but usually they are running away from me in fear and panic!
I liked exploring the crooks and crevices of the island, past leaf-lined stairs. The air was crisp and clear – what a pleasant respite from urban pollution!
Unfortunately, the aquarium closed at 4pm, so we arrived too late for that.
We did, however, try some frozen yogurt topped with sweet potato. Oishii (delicious). The salespeople here are good-natured and cordial.
These vending machine toys reminded me of childhood. I bought one of the glowing jellyfish for my kid brother because he likes animals.
The next morning, our time in Miyajima came to a close. I woke myself up with some Miyajima coffee. 🙂
I had a delightful time in Miyajima and would highly recommend it! To have the full experience, definitely stay at a ryokan for a night, if possible.