We’re in luck again with the weather – the next day dawns sunny and clear, the sunshine hitting me straight between the eyes as soon as I open the curtain.
I’ve checked the tide table: the Giant Torii gate doesn’t actually float, rather it stands on the beach, its weight holding it in place; when the tide is low you can walk straight up to it, so the more picturesque time to take photos is at high-ish tide. Low tide is at 11.53 am, so we are in no great rush to go there. Getting there is easy, and free for us (or rather included in the overall JR pass we’ve paid for). The JR train takes us to the station of Miyajima-guchi, and a short stroll to the pier and we’re boarding a JR ferry to take us across the water to the island.
The shrine is truly massive standing 18 meters tall just opposite a large buddhist shrine. As we traipse through the temple we are privy to (we think) a wedding ceremony. A young woman in what looks like a bishops hat is sitting in one area in the main shrine, lined up on a table next to her is her/his family, complete with squirming children bored with the procedings. Three monk/musicians play various instruments, a couple of young women in pink kimonos (I assume are the ‘bridesmaids’) are standing off to one side. Needless to say the crowd of tourists are arrested by the sight, and many of them stop to take pictures (I confess I do too, when I see there are no ‘no photo’ signs – shameless).
We troop on through the shrine complex, wading through tourists of every shape and size.
Here and there are deer, opportunistically sniffing each and every tourist for the scent of food. One professional photographer clearly has a deal with some of the deer: they stand obediently in a line in front of a group tour, and in return they get some food. The woman with the food is mobbed by deer who canter after her as she tries to evade their wet noses.
There are people in the water by the gate, trousers rolled up above their knees, who probably have lost the feeling in their feet, the water is so cold. But hey – anything for a selfie? And don’t mention the young sweet thing walking on the shore in her pristine white stilettos – no wonder ankle injuries are the most common ailments for young women in Japan. And don’t get me started on smartphone-induced neck chiropraxis.
We decide to forgo the cablecar (ropeway in Japan) to the peak of the hill: the day has turned hazy and the earlier blue sky is now grey and hazy. And having seen plenty of deer we don’t feel like walking up to visit more of them. We do stop for the oysters, though, managing to get into an oyster restaurant before last orders. I am not a fan of oysters, but they are cooked, so I don’t have to deal with the slippery consistency of the raw ones. The mixed meal comes with oysters deep fried, steamed over a barbecue, preserved in oil and smoked, along with some token green stuff. For the most they are delicious, though I let W eat the ones that most closely resemble their native state.
We head back to the station, managing to bag ourselves a seat on the train for the 30 minute trip back.
For dinner W is diverted from the Okonomiyaki by some cooked beef tongue, the memory of previous experiences proving too much for his own tongue. I choose the omelette, (I don’t eat anything from the inside of an animal) which is a very thin pancake topped with noodles, garnished with bean sprouts, pork and squid, topped with an egg spread paper thin on the griddle, and covered in a dark brown sauce. Delicious, and decidedly the better choice; W has to smother his tongue (as well as the beef) with the same dark sauce to improve the flavour of his dish.
And then, after a good day out in Hiroshima, we slip into our beds in the tiny room at Hotel Granvia and return to the land of nod.