Japan Part 2: Miyajima

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Late afternoon, after tearing ourselves away from Hiroshima we took a short train ride and ferry (all included in the handy Japan rail pass!) to Miyajima, which is a small island just off the coast, and home to the Itsukushima Shrine for which it is famous.  On arrival our hosts collected us and transported us to our accommodation for the night; we choose to stay in a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese Guest House

Waiting for us at the Ryokan were two kimono clad women who insisted in carrying our oversized bags (which were roughly the size of the two women!), they then showed us into the reception area – it really did ooze zen!. We checked in and were shown to our traditional room where waiting for us was freshly made  matcha tea and Japanese cookies.

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Off we then went to explore the town.  About 20 steps from the Ryokan we were greeted by deer.  In fact the deer were everywhere!

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The afternoon was spent wandering round the main part of the island, visiting temples, shrines, the worlds largest rice paddle, eating freshly steamed buns and just taking in our beautiful and peaceful surroundings.

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We then made our way back to the Ryokan for our evening meal, served in many stages in our room.  We were served the most amazing Kaiseki meal.  I won’t bore you with the details of what a Kaiseki consists of – you can read that here.  But the dishes kept coming, I lost count.  The Ryokan also kindly created a vegetarian one for me, which was fantastic.  Here are some of the beautifully presented dishes we had:

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After this feast (which took ages to finish due to my lack of ability to use chopsticks!), our room was transformed into a bedroom, with futons laid out with nice plump duvets.

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The next morning, breakfast was another multi-course meal.  This time I chose a western breakfast, while Stuart got stuck in with a traditional Japanese breakfast.

Our plan for the day was to see the rest of the island, which included Mount Misen the big mountain in the middle.  We took the cable car up as far as we could go, which had marvellous views, we took a peek in the shrines dotted en route, and made cookies half way up.  The final reward was finding a cafe on the summit, which sold a very cold refreshing beer!

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We had only planned to spend the morning doing this, but ended up taking most of the day.  So we had to hot foot it down the mountain back to the Ryokan to pick up our luggage and head to the ferry back to the mainland.  Next stop on our tour was Kyoto!