Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Osaka-Nara-Kyoto-Kobe-Okayama-Hiroshima trip – 12 Oct 10

We have checked with the reception yesterday that breakfast is served from 7am. The breakfast spread is a combination of western and Japanese food. I like the rice ball the most as there is a variety to choose from. At the end of the breakfast, guests have to clear their own plates and place the plates and cutlery into the respective trays.
Breakfast voucher

Rice balls
Hotdog and salad
Miso soup
Toaster and bread
Drinks dispenser
Self service after breakfast

We left at aroud 7.45am and took a subway to Shin-Kobe station to catch shinkasen to Hiroshima. We spent some time figuring out where is the subway station as it is not located in the building as JR train station. When we reached Shin-Kobe station, we went to the JR Green Window Reservations Ticket Office (Midori-no-Madoguchi) to reserved our seats. We missed the Nozomi train by few minutes and board the next train which is a Hikari train (Nozomi is the fastest train under the shinkasen category which is not valid with the Japan Rail Pass followed by Hikari which is valid with Japan Rail Pass).  
 Inside the shinkasen
Waitress selling snacks & beverages
On the way to Hiroshima
Shinkasen station

When we are standing outside Hiroshima JR station figuring out the direction to Hana Hostel Hiroshima, a Japanese guy came up to us and offer to help us. This guy is so helpful! Even though he couldnt really speak English, he pointed to us the direction to Hana Hostel Hiroshima. As the check in time is 3pm, we left our luggage in the hostel and went out.
Hana Hostel Hiroshima
Temple in front of Hana Hostel Hiroshima 
Weather forecast
Lobby area
Saw the elevated bridge? It's the Shinkasen railway tracks
Pathway for cyclist and pedestrain
So many taxis waiting for passenger

We purchased the Miyajima free pass which cost ¥2,000 ~ S$31. Miyajima free pass is a two day pass which allows unlimited travel on the Mt Misen ropeway, the ferry to Miyajima and Hiroshima tram. One day pass cost ¥600 for unlimited Hiroshima tram ride or ¥840 which includes the ferry to Miyajima. The free pass can be purchased at Hiroshima tram station.
Hiroshima tram station
Miyajima Free Pass

We board JR train to Miyajimaguchi station and from there we walk to the ferry pier. There are 2 ferry companies serving this route: JR ferry (valid with Japan rail pass) or Matsudai ferry (valid with Miyajima free pass). We took the JR ferry although we could also board Matsudai ferry. JR ferry has a timetable which shows the departure time from Miyajimaguchi and Miyajima (宮島口発 is departure from Miyajimaguchi, 宮島発 is departure from Miyajima, those listed in the pink box will pass the offshore torii). The ferry to Miyajima only takes 10min.
 Ferry pier
Ferry to Miyajima
Inside the ferry
I guess this is for cultivating oyster
The famous torii gate

There are deers roaming around in Miyajima but the deers here are tamer than those in Nara. Most likely it's because no vendors are selling deer's food here.
Deer roaming around
Such a nice villa
Nagahama shrine
View of Hiroshima mainland from Miyajima

Miyajima is ranked as one of the Japan's 3 best views, the other 2 are Matsushima & Amanohashidate.
 Top 3 scenic spot monument
Rice scoops (杓子 shakushi)
Chestnut stall
Chopstick holder
These stone figures are so kawaii

The biggest rice scoop in the world can be found in Miyajima. It measures 7.7m long, 2.7m thick and 2.5 tonnes. It is made from a 270 years old Zelkova tree and it took 2 years and 10 months to produce this scoop.

According to a legend, between 1789 - 1800, a Buddhist monk named Seishin lived and worked in the Tokidera Temple. One night he dreamed of a deity known as Benzaiten, the goddness of good fortune. She held a Japanese lute which the monk saw as a kind of spoon. Upon awakening he showed the people of Miyajima how to make this magical rice scoop. This is said to be the beginning of Miyajima rice scoop.
Largest rice scoop in the world
Rice scoop postcards
Yummy fishcake

We had our lunch at a restaurant along the Omotesando. We ordered fresh and BBQ oysters to share as the oysters are sold in half a dozen. The BBQ oysters don't taste as nice as the fresh oysters. It's harder to chew.
Entrance of the restaurant
Inside the restaurant
Fresh oysters
BBQ oysters
Anago-meshi (broiled conger eel on top of rice)
BBQing oyster
Caricature on rice scoop
Did anyone mistaken this as a rubbish bin?

The famous torii gate only appears to be floating at high tide; when the tide is low, it is approachable by foot from the island. It is a common practice for visitors to place coins in the cracks of the legs of the gate and make a wish.
Famous "floating" torri gate

Itsukushima shrine 厳島神社 is dedicated to the three daughters of Susano-o no Mikoto, Shinto deity of seas and storms and brother of the great sun deity, Amaterasu (tutelary deity of the Imperial Household). Because the island itself has been considered sacred, in order to maintain its purity commoners were not allowed to set foot on Miyajima through much of its history. Retaining the purity of the shrine is so important that since 1878, no deaths or births have been permitted near the shrine. To this day, pregnant women are supposed to retreat to the mainland as the day of delivery approaches, as are terminally ill or the very elderly whose passing has become imminent. Burials on the island are still forbidden.

Opening hrs: 6.30am – 5.30pm (until 6pm Mar to mid Oct, until 5pm in Dec). Admission: ¥300, ¥500 for combined entry with Treasure Hall.
 Itsukushima Shrine
 Entrance of Itsukushima Shrine
So many people wanted to catch a snap of the wedding couple
The wedding couple
Marodoharaiden (Purification Hall)
Pathways built on silts

We also went to the Treasure Hall as the admission was included in the ticket. There are historic relics on display and I find it pretty boring. Photography is not allowed inside the museum.
Treasure Hall
Rows of neatly arranged slippers

Beside the Treasure hall is the Daiganji temple which is a small temple. Admission is free.

Daiganji temple
 Kiyomori shrine

From Kiyomori shrine, we walked to Omoto shrine which is at the far western corner of Miyajima, 10min walk from Kiyomori shrine.
Omoto shrine
Residential houses in Miyajima
Beautiful flowers from the balcony
Treat the deers with care 
Pathway leading to Daisho-in temple

Daisho-in temple is located at the base of Mt Misen. In the middle of the stairs leading to Daisho-in temple is a row of spinning metal wheels that are inscribed with sutra (Buddhist scriptures). Turning the inscriptions as one walks up is believed to have the same effect as reading them. Admission is free and Opening hours: 8am - 5pm. 
Belfy at Daishoin temple
Daishoin temple
Turning the prayers wheel
Bald monk
Awashima shrine
Postman delivering letters
Senjokaku & Gojunoto

We took a free shuttle bus from the back of Itsukushima Shrine to Momijidani ropeway station otherwise we have to walk 10min to the ropeway station. 
Waiting for shuttle bus to Momijidani ropeway station
Timing of the shuttle bus from the back of Itsukushima Shrine
Shuttle bus
Steps up to Momijidani ropeway station
Momijidani ropeway station

The ropeway station opening hour is from 9am – 4.30pm. Admission: ¥1,000 for single trip and ¥1,800 for round trip. As we purchased the Miyajima free pass, the ropeway ride is included. We took the ropeway which can accommodate 6 person to the mid station and changed to a larger ropeway to the Shishi-iwa station.
 Smaller ropeway from bottom to mid station
Changing to the larger ropeway at the mid-way station
View from Shishi-iwa observatory

We didnt hike up to Mt Misen as it's a 30min steep hike to Mt Misen. There are 7 wonders at Mt Misen.
• Kiezu-no-hi at Reikado (Temple which Protects Flame) – For over 1,170 years this sacred fire has burned.
• Shakujo-no-ume - Kobo Daishi's plum staff liked where he left it and it sprouted roots and leaves. If the staff turned tree doesn't bloom its double blossoms in the spring it is considered a bad omen.
• Mandala Rock - Kobo Daishi carved Buddhist sutras in Sanskrit and Chinese into this large rock.
• Kanman-iwa - A rock with a hole which is said to be filled with salt water during high tide and drain out during low tide.
• Shigure-zakura - It is always damp like after a shower under this cherry tree.
• Ryuto-no-sugi - Ryuto, a phenomenon where lights appear on the sea, is best visible from this cedar tree.
• Clapping wood sound - A Japanese goblin called a Tengu is said to clap wooden clappers at midnight somewhere on the mountain.
Mt Misen
Historic spots of Mt Misen

We spent about half an hour at Shishi-iwa Observatory before leaving. On the way down inside the ropeway, I saw a very kawaii Japanese boy. He even display v-sign when I took a photo of him. His eye lashes are so long.
Kawaii Japanese boy
Shuttle bus timing at Momijidani park entrance

We passed by Itsukushima Shrine and the tide is low now. But it's still not low enough to walk to the Torii gate.
Low tide

On the way back to the ferry pier,  I bought a Age Momiji which is a fried momiji manju. It has a crispy surface but inside the cake is very soft and sweet. They are only sold in Ko-yo-dou 紅葉堂 on Omotesandou street. A single piece costs about ¥130 ~ S$2. I also bought some momiji manju but these can only last for a week.
Ko-yo-dou 紅葉堂
Age momiji 揚げもみじ饅頭
How momiji is make
Momiji manjū (もみじ饅頭)
Sunset at Miyajima

We took the ferry back to Miyajimaguchi and then took JR train back to Hiroshima. It's almost 7pm when we reached Hiroshima station and we decided to have our dinner at the train station. There are eatery shops on the 6th floor but in the end we decided to have okonomiyaki at another level. I don't remember which level it is but there is a level where there are many okonomiyaki shops. We saw one of the shops has many customers so we guess it should be nice.
Okonomiyaki shop
Crowded with people

I ordered a pork egg cheese & soba okonomiyaki which cost ¥830 ~ S$13. It is very filling and I couldnt finish the whole okonomiyaki.
Sauces to accompany Okonomiyaki

After our dinner, we bought breads for breakfast tomorrow and went back to the hostel. There seems to be a smell when we open our room. It seems that nobody is staying in this room for quite some time. Similar to Capsule Ryokan Kyoto, Hana Hostel Hiroshima has a file which introduce all the hostel facilites and useful info.
 Double bed room
Guidebook on Hana Hostel
Free internet corner
Pantry area
Laundry corner at the rooftop

1 comment:

潇洒走一回(少俊) said...

Missed my very first Japan trip. I also travelled to Hiroshima :)