There is an island where you can feel in the middle point between the heaven and the underworld, a place that you can only reach by boat and where the shrines seem to float on water. A World Heritage Site, along with the virgin forest of Mount Misen and numerous preserved shrines, monuments and historical sites makes you realize you are in a unique place in the planet. The perfect harmony between human beings, nature and spirituality that Japanese people usually do so well can be felt in every corner of this island, Miyajima Island, the Island of Gods.
7 am in Osaka. 28ºC. 90% humidity. It was August in Japan and we just needed to breath to feel the first sweet drop in our heads. We bought two cold coffees with milk in one small store while going towards the Shin-Osaka train station. We took there the Shinkansen, the high speed train in Japan, towards the west. In less than one and a half hours we were in Hiroshima, where we took a regional train towards the peer in Miyajimaguchi. From this small town departs the boat towards the Island.
The first thing we did was to go to the Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage Site, that looks like it is floating when high tide. It is also considered a national treasure. Around the shrine you will find many deer walking among tourists and peddlers. If you are lucky you can even touch them!
Once inside the shrine we enjoyed every step we did on the tatami. You can hear the crunches of the old wood and the smell of the incense through the open corridors and rooms. And then we saw the queue, a very well organized queue waiting for the best postcard of Miyajima.
After visiting the floating shrine we went for lunch in the streets of the old town of Miyajima: chips and fried chicken under the shadow of a tree while looking to the Japanese children chasing deer.
And then, maybe in the worst moment of the day because of the heat, we decided to go to the highest point of the Island at the top of Mount Misen. In our way to the cable car we had time to see the five-story Pagoda.
In order to reach the top of Mount Misen it is necessary to take one cable car and then hike for 45 minutes. Although it can be steep at some points, just for the views it is worth it. But it is also important to reach the top to see the always-burning fire.
Then, through the virgin forest of Mount Misen and stopping every five minutes to take photos of the views we walked towards the top.
Ok, I admit it. We also stopped every five minutes to drink water. At this point, do you remember our post about our experience in Koyasan? That place where we walked through the largest Japan cemetery and where Kobo Daishi has its mausoleum? Kobo Daishi was the man that spread the Buddhism through Japan and here we could find the Kiezu-no-hi (The Eternal Flame) that he fired. It is burning since 806. It is said that the holy water boiled by this fire works for all sorts of disease.
And just after the Holy Flame in this small shrine in the Mount Misen, passing through a cave, we reached the top!
The water bottle was empty and we were thirsty and sweaty. But happy! We were at the top of the Island of Gods in the middle of the Seto Sea with 360º views.
After this hike we already had time to visit one more shrine in the island and then we took the ferry back. We also spent some hours in Hiroshima, visiting the Bomb site and just having silence to remember those who lost their lives there in the World War II… It is really a place to sit down and wait till the sun has gone.
And finally, just before taking the Shinkansen back to Osaka, we enjoyed a fantastic dinner of typical Japanese food in Hiroshima. There we ate maybe the second best sushi of our trip to Japan. The number one will be in a future post when we will explain you our story among fishes in the biggest fish market in the world in Tokyo!