Over the last couple of years, I've tried to plan something a bit "different" on our trips.....while it might not be different to the adventurous traveller, for basic folks, not on a tour, without a guide or handlers....well, it might be. When we visited Istanbul-Rhodes, we did a side trip to Symi. When in Tunisia, we travelled to Ksar Ghilane and slept in a tent in the Sahara, on our trip to Portugal and Rome, we visited Malta, on our trip earlier in the year, we took the train to Poperinge, then rented bikes to get to SAint Sixtus, in search of Westvleteren 12.....I know, there's a lot of catching up to do.
I knew there were places the Missus had always dreamed of visiting.....in some cases these places were just something from a photo She had seen. There was a classic photo of Japan......that looked something like this.
The "Floating Tori"........ So when making plans, between trips to Kyoto and Osaka, I made arrangements to stay over night on Miyajima. That way we'd be able to get past all the day trips. Luck was on our side as Typhoon Vongfong hit the night before we were set to leave.
And by the time we left, it was clear skies.....
Three people emailed me asking for photos of the Shinkansen......so here are a couple of the "Bullet Train" arriving at Kyoto Station.
Getting to Miyajima is a slam dunk....get to Hiroshima Station and change trains to Miyajimaguchi and catch the ferry. The only delay was when the train stopped for about 30 minutes midway. I'm thinking there were still some problems post-typhoon that were being taken care of.
The ferry takes about 10 minutes or so, and finding our hotel, which was right across the Ferry Terminal was a slam dunk. We dropped off our bags and headed off. What I didn't know was that we'd be so busy doing things we wouldn't return until nightfall!
What I really didn't anticipate were how, well, interestingly persistent these residents of the island were.
The deer here are quite, well, I'm not sure if "tame" is the right word. They are used to humans and will grab your bag or tear into your pockets looking for something to snack on. On the other hand, it was funny seeing kids tease the deer and then suddenly have the tables turned.....
There was, of course, one thing the Missus wanted to see. ....so we headed off ASAP. It wasn't hard finding the Floating Torii.
This torii is the gate to Itsukushima Shrine which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Shinto Shrine is dedicated to the daughters of the God of the Sea and Storms, Susanoo-no-Mikoto.
The island itself was considered sacred, so the shrine was built, out into the bay, so that pilgrims could visit without setting foot on, and defiling the island.
It seems that the island was simply created for one to marvel in the beauty of it.
It's obvious why Miyajima is considered one of the three most scenic spots in Japan.
Photogenic sites like the 5-Story Pagoda look really beautiful, but not so much close-up.
It's much better to take a photo like this.....
We caught the scent of coffee and found a little shop, which we later found is pretty popular named Sarasvati and had a nice cup fo coffee.
The great smell of coffee......it seems that Japan does love coffee and takes it to the next level.
Of ocurse, everything seems simple over a nice cup of iced and non-iced coffee.
We hadn't eaten since our "Vongfong snacks" the night before so getting a bite ot eat would be the first priority.
I had received a recommendation for Miyajima from a friend. Now the trick was finding the place......addresses on Miyajima, much like other places in Japan are kind of a mystery to me. Though in terms of being a trick, it wasn't nearly as amazing as what what that pooch was doing standing on the dude's shoulders! That is one talented and well trained dog.
Anyway, bolstered by our coffee we set off....trying to find our lunch destination. One really nice thing about Miyajima, and Japan as a whole, is people are so very helpful.
As we wandered the back streets, we'd ask people for directions and they were so helpful.
The place was actually located in the main shopping arcade, duh. Here's a photo of the front of shop later in the day.
When we arrived, there was a line outside the restaurant and that oyster grill was going full tilt. Unfortunately, there were only "tatami style seating available. So, there I was....when was the last time I sat this way? I could hear my joints, making a sound like twigs snapping in a windstorm as I tried to sit correctly. My left foot immediately fell asleep and I had the mental picture of trying to get up and falling over on another table and impaling myself on one of those little replicas of the Floating Torii that accompanied the raw oysters.
It was oyster season, so guess what we ordered......
The Nama-Gaki, oysters on the half-shell, really didn't make much of an impression.
While very meaty, they lacked any real, distinct flavor, that would make an imprint in my mind. Very mild, lacking in any great aftertaste, really not impressed. This would be great for the "oyster gringo", you know, the guy who hits the raw bar and says, "gimme the biggest oysters you got.....".
The anago really didn't impress me as well.
Things turned on the kaki-furai....the fried oysters seemed to highlite the best of the local bivalve.
My goodness, the initial crisp texture, followed by the meaty follow-up...something happens when you apply heat to these oysters; the briney-beefy flavor is magnified. This was quite delicious.
The crescendo peaked with the grilled oysters.....
Life was good. I managed to get up after our meal without falling over onto another table.
The Missus had made Her plans for the day and now it was all about surviving it.
Yakigaki No Hayashi
Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan