Saturday, 26 September 2015

Hiroshima and Matsuyama 5-Day Itinerary: Day Two

Read Day 1 here - Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Manga Library
Read Day 2 here - Miyajima, Mount Misen
Read Day 3 here - Ferry to Matsuyama
Read Day 4 here - Matsuyama Castle, Dogo Onsen, Ishiteji Temple
Read Day 5 here - Return journey

Our hostel, Backpackers Miyajima, was right next to the Miyajimaguchi (宮島口) ferry terminal which was great for going in the morning to avoid the crowds. We took the ferry around 9:30am (180 yen) and although the ferry seemed pretty full, it was not as crowded as what we saw later in the day. I could pay with my ICOCA card when alighting the ferry.

Miyajimaguchi Pier
Soon after exiting the ferry terminal on the Miyajima (宮島)side, we saw deer. They were tame and allowed people to pet them but they did seem to be seeking food as well. We walked straight to the great Torii (鳥居) and it was relatively low tide in the morning so we could step onto the beach and be a little closer to it. The Torii was pretty standing in the water but it was not nearly as red or clean as it looked in tourism photos.

Cute children playing with tame deer
The Great Torii
After snapping a few photos, we walked through Momijidani Park (紅葉谷公園) to Momijidani Station to take the ropeway up Mount Misen (弥山), the highest mountain on Miyajima at 535 metres above sea level. If you do not want to walk up to the station, there is a shuttle bus near the Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社) but it is infrequent.

Mount Misen Ropeway
At the station, we had to wait around 40 minutes after buying our tickets before we could board. Roundtrip tickets for the ropeway cost 1800 yen. The ropeway has two segments. The first comes every minute and we got off less than halfway to transfer to the second one which comes every 15 minutes.

Shishiiwa Station Observatory
At the top of the ropeway is Shishiiwa Station and its observatory. The view was already magnificent from the observatory with the blue sky and sea coupled by the beautiful clusters of islands and a broad view of Hiroshima city. However, a 30 minute hike up to the Mount Misen Observatory offered an even more beautiful view. There is no ropeway up to the Mount Misen Observatory so you must hike. It can be done in less than 30 minutes but the trail was pretty crowded so we took our time.

Hike up Mount Misen
There is nothing sold at the top which they warn you about at Shishiiwa Station so please bring enough water! There is a relaxing and shaded rest house where many Japanese families brought bentos to eat and enjoy the view. I wish we had known to do that!

Panoramic view at the top of Mount Misen
It didn't seem so crowded up in the mountain but when we came down from the ropeway and exited Momijidani Park to the main street again, we saw that it was significantly more crowded than it was in the morning. The food stalls were all opened up and the delicious smell of grilled goods wafted over in the air. All the stores and restaurants were filled with people and this was at 2pm.

We walked to Daisho-in temple (大聖院)and it was noticeably quieter than the main strip area near the pier. There were a few flights of stairs up to the temple and it was great to get away from the crowds.

We went back to see the great Torii because it was higher tide than this morning and boats were going through the gates. We left soon after that and made our way to the ferry and back to the Hiroshima side.

This was a great day trip from the city of Hiroshima with gorgeous scenery, roaming deer, quiet temples and delicious food.

Read Day 1 here - Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Manga Library
Read Day 2 here - Miyajima, Mount Misen
Read Day 3 here - Ferry to Matsuyama
Read Day 4 here - Matsuyama Castle, Dogo Onsen, Ishiteji Temple
Read Day 5 here - Return journey
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