Japan Email #7 - Miyajima
Dear friends and family,
Now for one of the highlights of our trip, the fabulous Miyajima. I have wanted to go here since I first saw pictures of it, decades ago. I tried to get accommodations at Miyajima, but everything was booked. It is peak time to view the autumn colors. Then I read about how many tourists flood in and became apprehensive that it had become a huge tourist site. Miyajima has been a pilgrimage destination site for a long time, but it is far more significant, far more historic, with far more gravitas to ever succumb to the Western, Las Vegas, Disneyland type of tourist site (or so I fervently hope).
That is how we ended up staying in Hiroshima, which is close by. Some of the guide books make it sound rather difficult to get to Miyajima, aka Itsukishima, which is actually its real name. I ended up receiving directions from a non-English speaker at the front desk of our hotel, so it was not difficult at all. He told me in Japanese and circled things on a map. We ended up walking a few blocks up from our hotel, (The Hotel Washington), another comfortable, new hotel, catching a street car, which trundled along for about an hour to a ferry terminal. We followed a small crowd of people to the terminal and caught the ferry for the short ride to Miyajima.
The class picture.
The 5-tiered pagoda, which we didn't take time to see up close. You are starting to see the colors of the trees in those red splotches. We have not beefed up the color on any of the trees, but you will probably find them hard to believe. We did. The colors are hallucinogenic.
A little rivalry over some food.
We start climbing the slopes of Mt. Misen, the holy mountain. In fact, the whole island is deemed to be holy, ever since Kobo Daishi brought a form of Buddhism to Japan in the 8th century, I think -- anyway, a long time ago, and chose Miyajima as a spiritual center. It does feel spiritual.
Very impressive temple, Daisho-in, which seems to stretch over several structures, and is quite different than other temples I have seen. There is a sand mandala on the floor before the Buddha. There was also a large photograph of the Dalai Lama inside this temple.
Ancient Jews in Japan: