Come Rain or Shrine

Come Rain or Shrine

In general the weather in Japan has been amazing for us. It feels like 90% of the days have been gloriously sunny, temperate and wonderful for pictures. Today was not one of those days – and I think it felt all the more dreich because the rest have been so good.
Yesterday, the gloomy weather suited the gloomy blog, but today we were hoping for something sunnier. It was not to be. We decided to push on regardless and head to Itsukushima Shrine, another of Japan’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Its Torii gate, is the iconic entrance to a Shinto shrine: in fact, if you look up the term, you’re bombarded with its image. Dipping its toes in the Seto Inland Sea, the gate has to be repaired far more regularly than ordinary ancient structures. We know – we spoke to the architect who has to do the repairs.

The gate naturally leads to a shrine, and Itsukushima as a whole is what UNESCO chose to acknowledge. The exact date of its original construction is unknown, however, it’s generally agreed that it’s definitely been around since at least 811AD. Due to its location at the base of Mount Misen, the highest peak for miles around, the site had been thought holy for much longer than that. Once upon a time, the peak was believed as so sacred, that no one would scale it. Today*, it’s a testing hike to the top open to everyone.
*Not literally today, of course.

On a good day, all of this – gate, mountain, ocean and all – contribute to Miyajima (as it’s also known) being long-regarded as one of Japan’s most scenic spots. That decision was presumably made before vending machines, hawkers and gangs of menacing deer were installed. Not that any of it keeps the punters away; next to its northerly cousin Nara, in spite of the rain and everything else, Miyajima is one of the busiest tourist places we’ve been in Japan. And it seemed all the busier because every soul there seemed to be carrying an umbrella…

We left as we had arrived: cowering under our own umbrellas. Seeing that we felt a little glum, our lovely guide Mikako, decided to take us for some of Hiroshima’s famous okonomiyaki. We had some of it in Osaka too but, truth be told, hadn’t enjoyed it all that much. Thankfully, this Hiroshima version, heavy on vegetables with less mayonnaise was much tastier. It was still a million miles away from being a healthy alternative, but what does that matter? It cheered us right up.

Our time in Hiroshima prefecture was made possible by:

Once again the joint efforts of the Rihga Royal and the Granvia Hotel, who have both been sponsors in the past and who are genuinely willing to help the project with no expectation of anything in return. The fact that they both provide great views, soft beds and access to the best of the city’s shopping only adds to their credit. Thank you both again.

Our endlessly interesting interpreter Mikako Miyahara, who we enjoyed talking to so much, we frequently forgot where we were or what we were supposed to be doing. Learning another language is one thing, learning the art of conversation in something else altogether. Thank you Miki!










1 Comment

  1. Ryoko Okamoto
    November 19, 2011

    It was unfortunate that the weather was not good in Miyajima.As one person from Hiroshima,I wanted you to see the beautiful view of Miyajima..but it was very nice that you experienced Okonomiyaki Hiroshima Version!:D