Itsukushima Shrine/Miyajima [Hiroshima Pt. 3]

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Shika | NEX-7 & SEL24F18Z | 24mm, 1/3200s, f/2.0, ISO100, RAW

There's more to Hiroshima than the Atomic Bomb Dome, and its fantastic cuisine. Hiroshima's home to one of the three Nihon-sankei (日本三景三景 - meaning  literally "Three Views of Japan"), with the Itsukushima Shrine on "Miyajima".

The island itself is technically Itsukushima, but the centrepiece of the island really is its shrine, and it's been lovingly nicknamed "The Shrine Island", or Miyajima, which is thankfully much easier for foreigners to pronounce! The Shrine itself is beautiful, and is made all the more impressive with the enormous, floating, Torii gate in the bay.

Stones

The island itself is technically Itsukushima, but the centrepiece of the island really is its shrine, and it's been lovingly nicknamed "The Shrine Island", or Miyajima, which is thankfully much easier for foreigners to pronounce! The Shrine itself is beautiful, and is made all the more impressive with the enormous, floating, Torii gate in the bay.

Torii

Torii

Deer, shika, roam freely on Miyajima. In the Japanese Shinto religion, they're a messenger of the Gods. They were extremely docile and plodded around the island, occasionally sniffing the odd tourist.  I managed to find one under some trees, with his head in the sunlight, completely at peace. I took quite a few photos of him, and ran over to my girlfriend afterwards, with a huge smile on my face. I'm not quite sure I've ever been as excited about taking a photograph as the one below!

Shika

Shika

After chilling out near the temple, watching the oodles of tourists (mostly Japanese) having their photo taken in front of the Torii, we headed towards the shrine itself. The shrine is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site, and monks perform traditional Japanese weddings on the island. Goodness knows how much that costs, but it looked absolutely stunning, as if we'd been thrown back a few hundred years.

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After feasting on Oysters (I mentioned in Part 2 of this photodiary that I'd eaten Oysters for the first time; it was on this very island. Quite a memorable experience!), we headed up the winding streets, towards Mt. Misen (the peak of the island). Turning back, I saw an Egret (not the first one I've seen in Japan) hunting for crabs. I fired off a few quick snaps with my SEL18200LE:

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I then looked up towards the mountain, only to see an Eagle soaring above us!

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This was turning into quite the adventure! On the way up to the cable car (ropeway, in Japanese), which was included in our 2000 yen/2-day ticket, I noticed these momiji (Japanese Maple). They're very famous in Japan, and I've photographed some before, in Tokyo. They're even more famous on Miyajima, where one can purchase cake-sweets made in the shapes of the leaves. They taste even better than they look!

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We'd taken the cable car to the highest point, but didn't have time to walk to the very summit of Mt. Misen, as the last return cable car was only 40-odd minutes away (17:30). We didn't really fancy the 2-hour walk down to the shore, as I wanted to get some nice low-angled light shots.

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After being dropped off at the base-station, we took the shuttle bus back to the main town. As we were walking along, my girlfriend noticed that we could see the giant Torii from this level. I, being a little taller, could see over the stone wall and was amazed. Blossoms, shrine, Torii... all in view!

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The light rapidly fades in Japan, but we're often treated to clear skies and gorgeous sunsets. The tide was just on its way out, and I hopped onto the beach, got down low, and snapped away.

With this post, I'll bring to a close this holiday photodiary of Hiroshima. I sincerely hope it's been interesting, and encourages you to visit this beautiful area of Japan. Stay tuned for more!