Made in Japan: Miyajima: An Adventure of Climbing 宮島:登りの冒険

平成二十四年二月二十五日 2/25/2012

About an hour trip on train from Hiroshima (広島) is the famous island of Miyajima (宮島). After exploring Hiroshima (広島) the previous day, I was ready to wake up early and discover Miyajima (宮島). I had specifically planned my trip so that I could attend the Oyster Festival (かき祭り). The Hiroshima region (広島県) is famous for their oysters, so I absolutely had to go during that time.

Famous Red Gate.
Itsukushima Shrine 厳島神社

I should also point out that Miyajima (宮島) is most famous for Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社). I took the ferry to Miyajima (宮島) and went to shrine first before it became too crowded. The positive of getting to Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社) in the morning is that no one is there. However, in the morning it is low-tide which means illusion of a shrine floating on the water is not possible. If you go in the afternoon, the high-tide contrasts with the red of the shrine and is really beautiful, but the hundreds of tourists on the decks ruin a picture. I decided that having a picture without tourists was better. Also, this year especially Itsukushima is SUPER crowded because Taiga Drama (大河ドラマ) is based on Taira Kiyomori, a leader of the Taira clan who rebuilt Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社) in the middle of the 12th century. I would say the majority of Japanese people watch Taiga Drama. It has been on since the 50s I believe and it’s a drama that depicts a certain period during a historical figure’s life. Super fans of Taiga Drama (大河ドラマ) have been flocking to Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社). I was happy to see this famous spot before it became over-crowded.

Oysters かき

I thought the Oyster Festival (かき祭り) was going to be all fun and games, but it ended up being lines that were over an hour wait. I decided to find a local restaurant instead. I was looking at a restaurants menu outside when an old lady came out from the restaurant doors and told me to think about my decision inside and that this place was the most delicious. I gave her a same nod and said ok. She then told me the other places were not delicious. Hahahahaha. I thought about it……She’s an old grandma lady, probably been making this food forever AND she’s desperate for customers. So she hooked me with her “charm.” So I ordered Anago-meshi (アナゴメシ) and oysters (かき). Anago-meshi (アナゴメシ) is broiled conger eel that is served over rice. Both dishes were fantastic. I’m happy I decided (forced) to eat at that restaurant.

After lunch, I really wanted to go to the observation deck on one of the mountains. I thought it seemed reasonable and it was worth climbing. I saw a bunch of people with hiking gear and ignored it, thinking I was strong and mighty! SO, I started climbing and the first sign said 3.0 km to observation deck. I told myself, “That’s walking to the station and back everyday! NO PROBLEM!” —LIES!— 3.0 km there and back in one day is not bad, however, 3.0 km going straight up is HORRIBLE.

Amazing view from the top.

I never thought I was going to die before but as I was climbing I really thought I was going to pass out and fall over the edge of these cliffs. As I was walking I started doing my thinking again and I compared climbing a mountain to studying Japanese…well at least my experience learning Japanese. When you start learning it’s fun and you walk fast up the mountain. Then, you hit a couple of rough spots ….and stop….and think….Should I turn back? You tell yourself it’s fun and keep going. Once you’re half-way and you’re dying. You can either walk down and be upset at yourself for not finishing or keep going despite the pain. Well, the moral of this is that the summit is a beautiful view. I’ve had my ups and downs with learning Japanese as well as times when I wanted to turn around and say enough. However, I’ve spent too much time and effort into Japanese and now that I’m here, I’m determined to reach the top. Overall, the climb took me four hours………reaching the top was amazing because I have never seen a view like that in my life. It was great.

Miyajima (宮島) is an island that has captivated the ancient Japanese, but the hearts of everyone who visit it. It’s like a fantasy island from a Miyazaki film. Once I got back to the hostel, I slept, slept, and slept. The following day was going to start a week and a half of more adventures in northern Kansai (関西).