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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Itsukushima - Miyajima the Shrine Island

Itsukushima is an island located northwest of Hiroshima Bay. It is popularly known as Miyajima, which means "Shrine Island" in Japanese.

Since we are heading to Hiroshima, this little island is a 'must see' because it is one of the most scenic spot in Japan. The island is famous for it's giant torri gate and the sight is ranked as one of Japan's 3 best views!

We woke up really early this morning and took the Shinkansen from Tokyo all the way to Hiroshima. The train ride took around 5 hours including all the transfers and the walking to the different platforms. Arrived in Hiroshima before 12noon, went to the hotel to drop off our bags and off we go to Miyajima!

We took a tram back to JR Hiroshima Station, then a train to JR Miyajima-guchi Station which is 20mins away. Afterwards, we walked from the station to Miyajima-guchi pier which is only 5mins walk before taking the ferry to the island. The ferry ride takes 10mins. All these were covered under our JR passes.. which was awesome max lah! 

There are actually several ways you can reach the island from downtown Hiroshima. See here for more information. I just chose the route that allows us to use our JR passes so we don't have to pay for additional fares. Haha!

The JR pass is super worth it if you are travelling between the big cities cos it covers travel on buses, trains, even ferries! Not all though, so you gotta check the website. I did all my homework and printed out our schedules before we came to Japan so we will be able to catch the correct train at the correct time. A bit tedious, but saved us a lot of time & headache while we are here.

Hello from the ferry en-route to Miyajima!!

OOOH! Our first view of the world famous torri gate!!!
It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site! 

Welcome to Miyajima Island!!

Super cute illustrated map of the island with all the tourist attractions.

If you are afraid of deer, stay away from this island.. Because they are everywhere!! They are quite tame and generally ignore the humans. I read on Tripadvisor that the deer on the island are quite violent and crazy cos they will nibble at your bag or snatch food from you.. well, I guess either the people who wrote the review are dramama or they are damn unlucky because we didn't see that happen at all. Perhaps the weather was too hot and the deer were too lethargic to move? 

Case in point. My sister with a 'lepak' deer.

To get to the torri gate, we have to walk through the small town... which was really nice because there's shade from the sun and lots of cool little shops!

My favourite shop is of course the HELLO KITTY SHOP!

Hello, Hello Kitty!
(づ ̄ ³ ̄)づ


They sell limited edition Miyajima pancakes, just like many other places in Japan which sells limited edition items that can only be found in their town/city/province. Good marketing strategy!! Hahahaha! My sister bought a box for her good friend. Surprisingly, I did not buy anything... I don't really buy Hello Kitty stuff cos I like to look at them, not own them. As I've mentioned before, 90% of my Hello Kitty stuff were gifts from friends.. Heh heh!

Le hubby and the world's largest spatula!
I am not kidding. It really is the world's largest at over 5 metres long!

Found this little shop that sells the famous fried pancakes!

We bought 2 to share... OK only lah.. Not worth the hype.

Freshly baked japanese rice crackers! OOH I LOVE THEM!

Le hubby got the spicy one. I got the sugared one. 
Found this really cute miniature torri gate for Kitty-chan.

And this super awesome Japanese garden with the FATTEST KOIS I EVER SAW IN MY LIFE! Ohmygod the Kois are damn huge and they are sooooo yuan-yuan-de!!! I wonder how they managed to rear the kois so well! Amazing amazing!!

After a walk through the town we finally arrived at the torri gate! I googled the high tide/low tide timings and wanted to come during high tide to see the famous 'floating torri gate' view, but unfortunately it clashed with our schedule so we are here for the low tide view instead. Initially I was sort of disappointed cos it looks very meh from where I stood. Look at the picture above! It's not very awe-inspiring and super anti-climax. And the ground was muddy and squishy! I didn't want to walk up to the gate and wanted to wait in the shade for my sister & Le hubby, but they dragged persuaded me to go out since "we came all the way here".. So I did. And thank God I did because it looks so much awesome up close!

Close up!

It is so much bigger than it looks from the shore! 

Close up you can see the barnacles and weird stuff growing on the base of the wooden gate.. so I gave it a wide berth cos it was kinda gross. Le hubby was fascinated and he went super close to take pictures of it. He said there were coins stuck to the gate.. I wonder how it got stuck there..

There were also lots of coins on the floor! I guess people who came during high tide threw coins out at the gate and make a wish or something. I don't know.. seems kinda silly to me.. but there were literally thousands of coins everywhere we stepped! And no one was picking them up! I was telling my sister maybe I should pick some up.. 100Yen = SGD1.20 and if I pick 100pcs, that's SGD120!! She scolded me for being 'so aunty' and 'embarrassing' so I didn't. 


This is how it looks like when I was trying to navigate my way around the water puddles because I didn't want my feet wet. My sister took a candid picture of Le hubby helping me around. He's so ultra sweet. 

Group picture in front of the gate!

Guess it's a blessing in disguise that it's low tide cos we could walk out and take pictures with the gate. If you ask me to choose between high/low tide to visit, I will say go during low tide so you can really go up close to view the gate. 

Well done Le hubby who managed to take a perfect selfie!

There's many other things to see on the island too. You can head to Senjokaku which means "1000 mat pavilion", Miyajima Public Aquarium (JPY1050 per person), and many other little temples and museums. 

There's also a cable car (ropeway) on the island which we did not go because the ropeway closes at 5pm and it's JPY1800 for roundtrip per person. Not really worth it given that we had so little time to enjoy the scenery up on Mt Misen.

We headed back to downtown Hiroshima and had dinner (OKONOMIYAKI!!!) before returning to the hotel. We didn't stay back to watch the lighting up of the torri gate because it will be very late when we head back to town.

Tomorrow we are heading to Okunoshima, the famous Bunny Island! It's the super highlight of our trip (and the reason why we are here in Hiroshima!). We already bought fresh vegetables from the supermarket nearby our hotel and we are all super excited!!! Can't wait for tomorrow! YIPPPEEE! Hope the weather is good and all the bunnies will be out to play! Wheee!!

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