Saturday, March 12, 2011

Miyajima and the Floating Arch

“Wow” is all that can be said about our trip to an island near Hiroshima called Miyajima. I have seen pictures of the orange Shinto arch out in the water, so I was very excited when I learned that we would be going to visit this location. In ancient times, this island was a sacred location of earthly paradise. I dare say it still is. There is an incredible temple built out on a dock on the beach that is completely above water or beach depending on the tide. This temple looks out on the arch built a hundred yards in the tide flat. The town has many more temples and shrines that contribute to the island’s sacred atmosphere. The village is situated at the foothills of Mt. Misen and several other peaks. The sharp, steep ridges covered with thick, exotic trees almost gave it the appearance of a tropical island, and Calvin and I couldn’t help ourselves from comparisons to Jurassic Park or the island from Lost. Needless to say, we were quite excited to start our hike.

Miyajima boasts to have one of the best views in all of Japan from the lookout at the top of Mt. Misen. The lookout can be reached by a gondola or by trails that lead through the forest. The hike up further revealed the religious character of the island. Amongst the beautiful trees and views, there were statues of gods and graves of ancestors. There was also a shrine deep in a rustic cave. The island being fairly small we were able to climb to the three highest peaks. From the tops, we could see a panoramic view of Hiroshima and the surrounding mainland and the several islands that scatter wonderfully across this southern bay. The ancients were not mistaken; there is something truly transcendent about this view. And we soaked it up for as long as we could until we had to make our way down to beat the sunset. Before leaving Miyajima, we watched the last sun fall behind the famous arch, now in the low tide. And, because the place was known for their culinary skills with oysters, we grabbed a couple of fried oysters before catching a ferry back.

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