At around 10 am we hopped onto the tram at Rakurakuen and pootled up to Miyajimaguchi. Yesterday it had poured with rain for most of the day, but today was a lovely bright day; even so, although the tram was crowded it was not as packed as I’d expected. Today is probably the best opportunity many people will have to go “red leaf viewing” and the two most popular spots in Hiroshima (as far as I know) are Mitaki and Miyajima.
The ferry ports at Miyajimaguchi and Miyajima were indeed packed with people. We hired bicycles and headed West, that is, away from Itsukushima Shrine, and before we had rounded the first corner we were alone. We cycled out to the camp site where Eileen and I went camping in October. Nobody was camping today.
After about an hour of cycling around we returned the bicycles and had a snack at a nearby cafe before wandering up to Momijidai Koen via the back streets to see the red leaves. The amusing thing about wandering around Miyajima is the way the tourists are channeled into just one or two streets on the route to Itsukushima Shrine, but the next street up, which runs parallel to the other two, is always almost completely empty of tourists, as are all the other streets, even on a busy day such as today. We only encountered masses of people at the port and along the main route until we turned up a side street, and then again up at the park.
We wandered back down the hill and around the back of the main shrine and stopped for a late lunch of “eel-on-rice” at a restaurant near the aquarium. “Eel-on-rice” is a speciality of Miyajima, and I am keen on eel, but even so, ¥1800 for eel-on-rice, soup and a few pickles was a bit much – especially when you consider that one of the stalls sells delicious baked potatoes for just ¥500 (at least, there was such a stall during the fireworks festival in the summer).
On our way back to the port we visited Senjokaku, the Pavillion of 1,000 Mats, a chantry for fallen soldiers commissioned in 1587 by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of the “three unifiers of Japan,” before heading for the back streets back to the port.