Thursday, 04-12-2014. Day 106.
Baguettes, boat rides, deer.
In addition to seeing some of the many sites related to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, we also wanted to visit the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine (a UNESCO World Heritage site) on the island of Miyajima, a short boat ride across the Onoseta Strait.
We wanted to catch the 10:30 a.m. ferry to Miyajima, and we had to catch our a train from Hiroshima station at 4:00 p.m., so we didn't have time to dawdle. We checked out of the hostel and left our luggage behind and hustled over to the launching point for the ferry to Miyajima island.
After we got there and picked up our tickets, we had about 15 minutes until we had to board the boat, and everyone was hungry. Problem was, there's no real quick take-out places (or, oddly enough, even vending machines) nearby, so we picked up a quick buttered baguette from Caffe Ponte, the Italian joint right across from the dock to munch on as we bounced along the waves.
It takes 45 minutes for the boat to get from its port near the A-bomb Dome to Miyajima island, and we docked right on time at 11:15 a.m. This is when it sank in that we really only had 45 minutes to get to the Itsukushima Shrine and the famous O-torii Gate before we had to get back on our return boat. We thought about catching a later boat back, but then we wouldn't arrive back in Hiroshima until after 2:00 p.m.—that would make catching our train from the station pretty tight.
So we hustled across the island to the shrine, which took us about 15 minutes. On the way we passed scores of wild deer that roamed the island and tried to steal brochures from the tourists—we saw this happen twice in the short time we were there.
O-Torii Gate and Itsukushima Shinto Shrine
When we arrived at the shrine, we had just enough time to appreciate the simple elegance of the O-torii Gate and take a few photos of it and the shrine before we had to turn around and hustle back to catch the boat. We just made it.
We were a little sad as the boat pulled away from the dock. We would have liked to have stayed on Miyajima a little longer (and not just because it cost us ¥10,800 to get there) and explored the island a little more ... but Japan Rail waits for no one. So now Miyajima Island is on our list of places to return to one day.
Not far from the A-bomb Dome (about 160 meters to the southwest), one can find the spot right below where the atomic bomb detonated about 600 meters above the city. So when the boat docked back in Hiroshima, we set out to find this. And find it we did—on the side of the street, marked only by a small, unassuming plaque set against the side of a building. It was a very somber moment.
Back to Tokyo via Shin-Osaka
After that we had just enough time for a quick lunch at a restaurant that boasted "the best onigiri in Japan" (they were pretty good), then a stop at the hostel to get our luggage, and a street car ride (our old friend No. 1) back to Hiroshima station where we caught our bullet train back to Shin-Osaka, then on to Tokyo.
And after a misguided cab ride from Tokyo Station (No, Mr. Taxi Driver, Nishsi-Azabu is not the same as Azabu-Bujan), we were happily in what would be our last Tokyo apartment.
- UNESCO World Heritage sites visited: 1 (9 cumulative)
- Boats ridden: 2
- Street cars ridden: 1
- Trains ridden: 2
- "Wild" deer seen: we lost count at 37