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A deer ate my paper!

Fake castles, wild deer and some floating gates


We spent our last morning in Hiroshima exploring the nearby castle and its grounds, something that we had to get up early to do as the rest of the day was due to be spent on Miyajima Island. We had a nice early morning walk there although we were expecting a little more size wise (doesn’t everyone!) as it was pretty small for quite a major castle. It was actually a reconstruction as the original one had been destroyed by the atomic bomb. Not that this was the first time it was destroyed, as like every other castle we have visited so far it had been burnt to the ground several times before. It had some good displays and plenty of signs in English but best of all it had a little dress up area and together with some of the other people on the tour we got kitted out as samurais and geishas. We had a brilliant time posing for photos although they should possibly have more female clothes on offer as Rach had to squeeze into the child’s samurai costume.


After a race back to the hotel our tour guide Keiko led us via train and ferry to Miyajima Island. She gave us a map of the place and offered to take us round the best sights first and then leave us a few hours to do our own thing. She already pre-warned us about the wild roaming deer on the island but nothing really prepares you for them coming right up to you and trying to eat paper out of your pocket! After managing to escape from their clutches we made our way to the famous floating gates, our visit timed perfectly to high tide when they appear to float in the sea. The gates themselves have no actual foundations and instead stand on the seabed. They looked fantastic and made a great photo opportunity.


After that we headed to the Senjokeku to see the five storied pagoda then on to the temple of the five hundred Buddhas. It is aptly named as, by some strange coincidence, there are five hundred stone Buddhas each with a different facial expression. The aim of the game being to find the one that looks most like you. After a successful Buddha hunt Keiko led us to another part of the temple to experience being reborn. She led us down some stairs to a chamber where if you walk through you will be reborn. She neglected to tell us just how pitch-black this place was and it was a maze. You had to feel your way along the wall so we spent more time trying to figure out our way (or in Alex’s case leaping out at people) than feeling enlightened but never mind.


On our way back for our free time we stumbled across a traditional, Japanese wedding and saw a performance for the bride and groom to scare off the bad spirits that would have harmed the union. After witnessing the orange robed, masked man stabbing at the demons with his ceremonial stick we moved onto the street crammed with souvenir shops. It was here that we had planned to buy ourselves some personalised chopsticks with our names in Japanese. Unfortunately after looking at the prices and giving our wallets a fright we decided it wasn’t worth it so bought some cheaper, but equally nice ones, to take home with us. Rach also took the opportunity to get some postcards of which there’d been a serious lack of everywhere else we had been. Sadly our planned hike to the top of the island didn’t happen as the days are getting shorter now that we’re back in the Northern Hemisphere and so we had to make our way back to the hotel with the rest of our group.

Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • There seems to be a bit of a postcard shortage in Japan, we barely saw any and we were in pretty big touristy areas. If you see any, snatch them up straight away.
  • If you have a Japan Rail pass then the ferry across to Miyajima Island is included.
  • Don’t expect any castle in Japan to be the original. They built them out of wood and never learnt when they burnt down. Even after staring at the ashes for the fifth or sixth successive times.

Posted by rexontheroad 23:13 Archived in Japan

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