After breakfast, I liberally coated my passport and my JR Pass with mustard.
Miyajima is a small island in Hiroshima Bay, known for its forests and ancient temples. The vermillion Great Torii Gate is visible from the mainland, but becomes much more impressive as you approach on the ferry.
There is such a gate at the entrance to all the shrines, but it seems a bit bizarre putting one in the sea. In fact, it’s partially submerged at high tide.
Although it’s a small island, it’s hilly (volcanic) and there is a lot to see. We restricted ourselves to just a gentle walk, mainly near sea-level. It was busy, far too many people in our space, but I suspect they thought the same about us, too.
The Itsukushima Shrine was first built in 593. Yes, 593 and then remodelled in 1168. There was a heron trying and failing to catch the little fishes that lived in the pools left behind by the ebbing tide. I don’t think this was menat to be the main entertainment. That honour goes to the wedding that we, and many, many other people witnessed as we walked by. The flute quartet played some interesting traditional Japanese music.
Of course, you can’t visit a Shinto Shrine without visiting a nearby Buddhist Temple. As a bonus for us, this was a special day.The “Hiwatari-shiki” is sponsored by the Daisho-in Temple and takes place twice a year on April and November 15th. This is a religious rite performed by the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. We wondered what the queue was for, especially as most, not all, had taken their shoes off.
It’s a long, complicated ceremony and culminates in the worshippers walking on fire: ignited cypress branches, to be precise.
A lot of smoke was generated so it was hard to see how many steps each person took, but thankfully there were no screams of agony. Of course, if the queue had been shorter, we would have had a go, ourselves.
This five-storey pagoda is over 600 years old, combining Japanese, Indian and Chinese architectural features.
Something else that I want to have a go at is pulling the rickshaw. It looks easy-peasy but suppose I can’t get it moving, even on the flat? So, regretfully, I didn’t offer my services. Oh, and of course, there’d be problems with insurance and health and safety, so maybe it was a wise move to walk on by.
When we saw the deer eating that woman’s map, I was so grateful I’d spread something hot and spicy on my valuable paperwork.
The deer here are wild, you’re not supposed to feed them, but they’ll try anything. We saw this one nearly get its head stuck inside a milk (beer?) crate.
A cup of coffee sounded like a good idea, but we weren’t inclined to visit this café. You can sit with dogs or cats or even owls.
We have moved on from Hatsukaichi to Fukuoka. The new Airbnb was hard to find, we were reminded again how different Japanese addresses are to those we’re used to. Getting off the bus a stop early doesn’t help. We followed the directions given by the host, left, right, left, right but the pictures didn’t look quite right. In the end, Liesel accosted a young lady who took us to our new front door. We’d been walking a route parallel to where we thought we were.
I went out for an extra walk to get some groceries and I found an actual Christian Church, St Martins. It looked so strange, up a slight hill, looking all plain ordinary, after seeing so many shrines and temples in their vermillion Sunday best.
It was a successful shopping expedition too. I found some apples that aren’t the size of melons. Apple-sized apples.
We haven’t been to a museum, yet. That just seems wrong, but the weather’s been so good, we haven’t felt the need to go indoors unnecessarily. The National Museums in Tokyo and Kyoto will have to wait for another visit, but today, we did go to Kyushu National Museum here in Fukuoka. A bus ride then a train ride.
Nishitetsu run the buses around here and it’s a wonderful service. Not so much if you get on a bus on the wrong side of the street. That way lies hilarity, excess fares and a big fight with Google Maps.
Still, we got to the museum eventually and spent a good few hours inside looking at some fascinating exhibits.
It’s good to see that it wasn’t just Brits who went around the world ‘collecting’ artefacts. There were two collections here from most of Asia: China, Korea, Myanmar, India and beyond.
Unfortunately, no cameras are allowed inside the museum itself, so you’ll just have to take our word for it: it was a well-organised series of displays. The captions were in several languages, including English, although with a few slight hiccups in translation.
I was particularly pleased to see the Beatles influence here in eastern Asia. The Northern Song dynasty in the 10th century produced some fab Kyodo bronzeware. Printing technology also underwent significant development at this time, although it’s thought to have begun during the Sui dynasty, that’s the 6th and 7th century. William Caxton and Johann Gutenberg were 900 years late to the party, yet those are the inventors of printing that we learned about at school.
The old maps and map-making tools were fascinating, too. Japan has changed its shape over the years and at one point, they thought Corea (sic) was an island.
People were gathering outside and so we joined them.
We were pleased to witness a spellbinding performance by a dancer whose mask kept changing colour. I think the fan and his baggy sleeves helped hide the changes, but what a clever, energetic performance that was.
Being hungry on the way home, we dined at the Tower Records Café. I know, I know: have we gone back to 1970s London or something? No, here we are.
We found our way home, despite it being dark and despite our internet connection dropping out at exactly the moment we most needed it for navigation purposes. Luckily, my little jaunt last night paid off as I recognised where we emerged from the underground station: just down the road from St Martins.