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Slice of Life – Miyajima, Japan

Posted on Jun 18, 2014 by in Culture, Eat & Drink, Travel | 2 comments

 

View of the Seto Inland Sea from Miyajima. Photo by Sarah Tung.

View of the Seto Inland Sea from Miyajima. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

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.

 

Beef Bento. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Beef Bento. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

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.

 

Ferry to Miyajima. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Ferry to Miyajima. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

We hopped on the ferry to Miyajima…

 

Left: Entrance to Ryoso Kawaguchi Japanese Inn. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Left: Entrance to Ryoso Kawaguchi Japanese Inn. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

…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.

 

Historic Site: Kanatorii Cross road. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Historic Site: Kanatorii Cross road. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

Ryoso Kawaguchi is located next to a historic site marker, Kanatorii cross road.

 

Japanese bath (I call it a "scrub station"). Photo by Sarah Tung.

Japanese bath (I call it a “scrub station”). Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

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.

 

Family bath with natural spring water. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Family bath with natural spring water. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

The bath was the epitome of relaxation.

 

Bedding. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Bedding. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

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.

 

Rock garden at Ryoso Kawaguchi. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Rock garden at Ryoso Kawaguchi. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

At dinner time, I had a view of the beautiful rock garden.

 

Kaiseki dinner appetizers at Ryoso Kawaguchi. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Kaiseki dinner appetizers at Ryoso Kawaguchi. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

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.

 

Entrance. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Entrance. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

Statue at entrance. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Statue at entrance. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

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.

 

Gentle waves by the Seto Inland Sea. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Gentle waves by the Seto Inland Sea. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

The sea is simply pristine.

 

Bridge Scene. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Bridge Scene. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

This bridge reminds me of something lifted from a foreign film about the slow-paced nature of life.

 

Torii gate entrance to Itsukushima Shrine. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Torii gate entrance to Itsukushima Shrine. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

Tourists come to see the famed torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine.

 

"One of these things is not like the others." It's a deer! Photo by Sarah Tung.

“One of these things is not like the others.” It’s a deer! Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

We kept running into deer everywhere we went.

 

Deer posing for headshot. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Deer posing for headshot. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

This one even wanted his headshot taken! He sure is camera-ready. 🙂

 

Message from the City of Hatsukaichi: "The deer on Miyajima Island are wildlife animals. Please treat them gently and with patience." Photo by Sarah Tung.

Message from the City of Hatsukaichi: “The deer on Miyajima Island are wildlife animals. Please treat them gently and with patience.” Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

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?)

 

Sleeping Deer. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Sleeping Deer. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

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!

 

Leaf-strewn steps lead to...where? Photo by Sarah Tung.

Leaf-strewn steps lead to…where? Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

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!

 

Signpost (Hint: deer are never too far away). Photo by Sarah Tung.

Signpost (Hint: deer are never too far away). Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

Unfortunately, the aquarium closed at 4pm, so we arrived too late for that.

 

Japanese yams and sweet potatoes over frozen yogurt: a novel idea! Photo by Sarah Tung.

Japanese yams and sweet potatoes over frozen yogurt: a novel idea! Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

Sweet potato frozen yogurt. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Sweet potato frozen yogurt. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

We did, however, try some frozen yogurt topped with sweet potato. Oishii (delicious). The salespeople here are good-natured and cordial.

 

Vending machine toys. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Vending machine toys. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

These vending machine toys reminded me of childhood. I bought one of the glowing jellyfish for my kid brother because he likes animals.

 

Miyajima Coffee chalkboard sign. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Miyajima Coffee chalkboard sign. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

Miyajima Coffee Beans. Photo by Sarah Tung.

Miyajima Coffee Beans. Photo by Sarah Tung.

 

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.

 

2 Comments

  1. Beautiful photos! Have been to Japan twice and haven’t stopped by Miyajima. So many places left to visit… =)

    • Yes, Japan has many lovely cities. 🙂 Miyajima is ideal for “unplugging” and simply enjoying nature. I would love to hear about your Japan experiences as well. Happy travels!

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