Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"I see you know your sake, Bond San"

This is the next post of our Japan trip.  It took place in September but I only managed to write these notes a couple of months later.  For contemporaneous reports, take a look at Track My Tour -- a brilliant app that I used to ... well, track our tour.  Here is the link.

If Tokyo rocked (which it did), the next part of the trip promised even more for we to stay in a Ryokan (a traditional Japanese Inn) on Miyajima Island off Hiroshima, a place where tourists and pilgrums alike visit all the time for not only is it scenic, it is also home to various shrines, temples and the famous O-torii Gate.

The O-torii Gate

By this time we knew the ropes for shrines/temples as they were pretty much the same.  Japan is flat and hilly/mountainy.  Not many people live in the mountains which is where the shrines/temples are.  Rather they cluster together in the flat bits in vast numbers.  Japan's population is 125 million give or take and they all seem to live on top of one another.  An unfortunate observation but that is what it seemed to me as the place either teemed with people or was empty.  Mind you when it was empty it was hilly and as most shrines/temples are built in the mountains, there are hundreds if not thousands of steps to climb each time you visit!

Miyajima though was very pretty and the little olde worlde village next to the shrine just about managed to avoid being too touristy.

Now who wouldn't want some local oysters grilled with garlic and oil?  Wonderful!
However the big thing was the inn, the robes and the rooms!  I felt like James Bond in "You Only Live Twice" when he wore those robes and a really bad wig pretending to be a Japanese pearl fisherman and responded to Tiger's comment about sake (the leader of Japan's secret service) with the wonderful comment: "No, but I know my women".  They don't make them like that any more!

"I see you know your sake, Bond-san..."
The rooms were lovely with sitting areas that converted to futons when unseen hands turned down the rooms for the night.  Very comfortable they were too!

We'd also asked for a traditional dinner which turned out to be a million course fish dinner of exquisitely designed and presented small pieces of fishy substances.  Fortunately I like all that sort of thing so was able to really tuck in.  Not so some of my dining partners who drew the line at certain odder bits of once living creatures both fishy and non-fishy, so I had seconds on many occasions!

The following morning saw us tramp up and up and up a hill/mountain to a series of shrines/temples atop Mount Misen, one of the three most scenic spots in Japan apparently.  Fortunately a cable car took us part of the way but the rest was all up and down on foot.

Mind you the scenic stuff did come through!

The Seto Sea from the top of Mount Misen

We were also able to see the O-torii Gate at low tide with no water lapping about it.  Edifices such as these are all painted red and made out of wood so they look striking from a distance but a little shabby when you get really close.  One thing to remember is that as they are made of wood, even though the blurb says things like this are 1,000 years old, they all rot and have to be replaced every 50 or so years.  The O-torii Gate today is version 38!

Just one more picture of the O-torii Gate

Sadly that was it as our next stop was to be Hiroshima where we'd flown into only yesterday morning to see a baseball game.  Really!

Sayonara Miyojima!

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