Japan - Part 3
It seems so long ago, my marvellous trip to Japan, 2 weeks back and it seems like a lifetime ago. I have been formulating plans for my return but that will have to wait until after my summer weddings - one in Basel, Switzerland and the other in Athens, Greece! At least I'll see some sun this summer!
After 3 days in Kyoto we took our first trip on the famous Japanese shinkansen (bullet train) to Hiroshima and Miyajima Island.
The shinkansen we took wasn't the fastest train, they can get up to speeds of 300km per hour, but enroute to Hiroshima from Kyoto the trains can get to about 270km although I don't think we went that fast. We arrived in Hiroshima about 10am and caught a local train to the ferry terminal for Miyajima. Crossing the Seto Sea towards Miyajima (meaning shrine island) you get excellent views of the island and of Hiroshima....as you approach the island, the floating Torii Gate of Itsukushima Shrine , another UNESCO World Heritage Site (there seem to be a lot of them in Japan) comes into view - one of the prettiest views in Japan apparently!
At high tide, the torii gate looks like it floats on the water, whilst at low tide you can walk across the sand to it. The shrine is built on stilts and dates from the 12th century and it's unique because of it's "floating" style, the elements of the shrine being linked by boardwalks.
The island itself is has a number of temples and shrines and in order to maintain the purity of the island no-one is allowed to be born or die (although I am not sure how they avoid that) on the island. We visited the shrine and then walked through the woods to Daioshin Temple and along the shopping street to buy lunch. The island is famous for a number of foods, filled cakes shaped like maple leaves and congor eels!
We were lucky with the weather, it was mild with blue skies. However, later in the day as we visited Hiroshima, the A-Bomb Dome and the Peace Park and Museum it started to rain, it seemed appropriate given the circumstances. The A-Bomb Dome is one of the very few buildings that remained after the bomb. Providing witness to the bomb, the remains of the Hiroshima Commercial Exhibition Hall has become a symbol for peace and recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was sobering to actually be there, the location of one of the worst atrocities ever visited on man by man, but I also think it is somewhere that we should all see.