Mount Misen and Itsukushima Shrine

Here is Hiroshima! Our plan in Hiroshima was really to relax and rest our feet, but we spent almost a week there. There was much to see and do.

* Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
* Takashimaya and Odakyu
* Shukkeien Garden
* Mount Misen and Itsukushima Shrine
We are almost passing the one year anniversary of our trip in japan. The postings of this little adventure has tapered off, the truth being, its become a bit of a chore, a bit of a drag. While the excitement of the trip as a whole is still fresh on our memory, Hiroshima itself was a low point of the trip. While we were there to recover, to get our muscles back into shape, we weren't prepared for the stress it would bring on our mental well being. We were cranky, tired, a bit homesick and frustrated with sitting on the floor.

We were use to our American home, having seperate places to when the mood struck, but here in Japan there wasn't anywhere to escape to. Small studio apartment rooms, small bathrooms, a bit isolated and alone from the general population due to the language. It because apparent why so many fast food resturarants and quick stops were always had their seats packed full with people. Those were the places they escaped to when they needed some time alone from the home life.

It took getting lost in a moutain on an island in Hiroshima to reawaken our spirits and sense of adventure and knock us out of the funk we were experiencing.

Our original goal was just to see the Itsukushima Shrine, which most know as the floating Tori Gate. Unbeknown to us, the Itsukushima Shrine requires a boat ride to get to as it is situated at the island of Itsukushima. We left early to see the gate and arrived in the early morning at the island.
To our surprise the island of Itsukushima has many deer roaming around.
There was a bit of a traffic jam when the deer came up behind us on the bridge while we were looking the other way.
Since the Itsukushima Shrine was easy to get to and only took a few minutes to explore, we wanted to see what else the island had to offer. Which is how we found Mount Misen. A hiking trail takes you up the mountain and then a cable car brings you back down. Sounds easy enough.
What we didn't realize was the amount of stairs we would have to take. They seemed to never end.
There are small shrines and offerings along the trail. Very easy to miss as many of them are no larger than a chicken and most of them are placed under boulders or inside caves.
The signs can be a bit confusing when you don't really know where you are going. We had no idea which direction would lead us to the cable car.
The views at the top, however, are well worth the view.
It was here at the Nioman Gate that we made a wrong turn. We should have gone a different route, but were confused by the topography. We ended up going an hour the wrong direction off the pass. Thinking we would come to a town eventually which never happened. Eventually we had to turn back and make the long trek uphill.
The Orange route on the map above was the hiking route we took. However the purple arrows was where we went off course. Not sure how far we went, as there was no signs or maps to tell us.
We finally made it to the peak. 360 panaromic views and deer at the top to enjoy the views with you.
When we finally arrived at the cable car to take us down, we were exhausted. A half day trip had turned into a full on mountain climbing adventure, but through it all we had forgotten about all the discomforts of home and couldn't wait to be back. The cable car was another adventure in itself. A normal car suited for 6 or so people on the seat, was crammed tighter than the subways on Golden Week with standing room only and no one able to move. The cable car was the worst part of the experience, and we wish we had some pictures, but alas, we had other things on our mind, like not falling to our death below due to the overloaded cable cars.
By the time we arrived back at the Itsukushima Shrine, the tide had gone out. Many more people were also a the site, some of them digging for clams and others visiting the shrine.
We grabbed some food before heading back to the boat. Fried Oysters and Sticky Rice Cake balls.
Mount Misen is really awesome, and we originally had no plans to visit it, only see Itsukushima Shrine. We were very happy to get a chance to experience it, as it cleared our minds and soul and helped rejuvenate us for the trip ahead.

Next we head to Kagoshima!