Walk Around the Island of the Gods
From the spiritual Mt. Misen to the tranquil shrine on top of the sea
As part of my journey to visit the World Heritage Sites in Hiroshima, I left for Miyajima, also known as “the island of the gods”.
Only a few minutes after departing from the pier at Miyajimaguchi, the vermillion colored O-Torii gate comes into view and seems to
be floating on the sea. Seeing Miyajima and the sacred mountain of Mt. Misen in the background, I could see why people
travel from all over the world to visit this shrine.
After arriving at the port, I decided to tackle Mt. Misen while I still had the energy. Using the two stage ropeway (Momijidani Station to Kayatani Station, then change for Kayatani Station to Shishiiwa Station), I set off on the walking route from Shishiiwa Station to the summit of Mt. Misen. From these two ropeways that run above this World Heritage Site, you can enjoy a view of the Seto Inland Sea and its host of islands, as well as the dense virgin forests of Mt. Misen below you. It is a fantastic way to enjoy the dynamic landscape of the sea and the mountains.
After leaving the ropeway at Shishiiwa Station, I navigated the mountain path to reach two famous buildings. One is the Misen Main Hall, where the influential Heian period monk Kobo Daishi is thought to have undertaken religious training for 100 days, and the other is the Reikado – a building containing a fire that has continued to burn for over 1,200 years. Then I aimed for the summit and continued to trek up the mountain. The rocks I passed were gradually turning into larger boulders when I came across the ‘Fudo Iwa’ rock and the ‘Kuguri Iwa’ rock tunnel. It’s hard not to be amazed by the power of nature while passing through this strange looking tunnel of rock. Zigzagging between boulders, I finally arrived at the summit. The view from the summit of the 535 meter-high Mt. Misen is so spectacular, you soon forget about your sore thighs from the climb up. The Seto Inland Sea and its picturesque islands spread out in a 360 degree panorama. In the distance you can even see the Shikoku mountain range.
After climbing down the mountain, I wandered around the shopping area near the shrine and the old town. Suddenly I came across the famous deep-fried momiji. Freshly fried, the outside was crispy, while the sweet bean paste inside remained soft. A delight for my taste buds.
After the walk, I headed for Itsukushima Shrine. Stepping into the grounds, I was struck by the calm and awe-inspiring atmosphere inside the shrine. Suddenly I felt as if my body and mind and the nature that surrounds the shrine were all one. I prayed quietly in front of the Main Shrine and then as I walked down the western corridor, I spotted some fortune slips. I shook the container and I managed to get a “Kichi” – one of the luckier fortune slips.
With some time to spare, I walked to Toyokuni Shrine. Built on the orders of the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it’s famous for its size and is commonly referred to as ‘Senjokaku’ (the hall of one thousand tatami mats). The great columns and beams add Toyokuni Shrine’s impressive grandeur.
The majestic natural surroundings and the tranquil atmosphere on the island made this journey so worthwhile. It was only a brief walk around Miyajima, but I felt reenergized after my time in Mt. Misen and my experience of traditional Japanese culture.
「ココミル 広島 宮島」(Kokomiru Hiroshima Miyajima)（Published by JTB Publishing）
「るるぶ情報版 広島 宮島2011年」(Rurubu-johoban Hiroshima Miyajima 2011) （Published by JTB Publishing）
「週刊 日本の神社 第3号」 (Shukan Nihon no Jinja Daisango)（Published by De Agostini）