Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day trip to Miyajima!

We're about 45 minutes by train/ferry from Miyajima and decided to take advantage of it on Sunday.

Miyajima is most famous for the floating torii gate to the Itsukushima Shrine. Shinto practitioners believe that shrines are sacred spaces and otherworldly spirits reside there, so one must enter the space with respectful bows and through the sacred gate. At high-tide, the torii gate here appears to float in the water!

The village on Miyajima was incredibly inviting and walkable. It was sprinkling earlier in the day, and the vendors on the main street extended a retractable roof over the street. We had a great time checking out all the curiosities like the shops where you can pay to stick your feet in a pool full of fish who feed on dead skin (no thanks!), oysters grilled in their shells on the street (yes please!), and every possible deer stuffed animal you could think of. I also saw Hello Kitty boxers for men and we had hot stuffed buns for lunch along with a deer sundae for dessert - the chocolate covered rice puffs on top are supposed to look like deer droppings.

The highlight of this trip was that I really didn't know that tame deer wander all around the island. They are so relaxed and you can get close enough to touch them even though you're not supposed to. Joe is playing with his new camera, and we captured what it's like to wander around with the deer:

Here are a few other glimpses into our trip:
Jet ski racing on our way to the island!
I'm constantly stunned by how gorgeous Japan is.
My dear with a deer.
Fresh oysters cooked in their shells on the street
They're amazingly gentle for wild animals

A huge gate for the gods to pass through
We walked by once and laughed, then decided to try steamed buns on the way back
Buns filled with beef or conger eel
Five-tiered pagoda influenced by Chinese building style
I hadn't read much about Miyajima before going there, so it was such a surprise to find out what a great getaway it was. It's so close to home, but a totally different feel from industrial Iwakuni. We stopped by a place called Bluebird Cafe (cafes are so rare here!) and had perfect cups of coffee in Bodum double-wall thermal glasses that kept our hands cool and coffee hot. Fun fact: I'm the slowest coffee drinker on Earth, so my coffee always gets cold halfway through, except for in these glasses!

We've got some really exciting travel plans coming up, so stay tuned!


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