Saturday, 15 October 2016

Last days in Japan

Thursday 6th

                 The penultimate day of our Japanese soujourn found us heading to the island of Miyajima which is situated to the south of Hiroshima in the Inland sea.Miyajima Island may not be known to most people but the Itsukushima shrine is after Mount Fuji,Japan's biggest tourist attraction.The island is beautiful and in contrast to the rest of Japan less hustle and bustle.
                Ferries go back and forward every 15 minutes passing on the way the oyster beds for which the area is also well renowned.I would imagine that they would crop up on tonight's menu.
                 Wednesday the fifth was my sixtieth birthday so Lady Watson had booked us into a rayokan which is a traditional Japanese inn dating from the seventeeth century.Tatami matted rooms,communal baths and dressing up in a yakata which is a typical Japanese kimono are the norm.
                Since we had a few hours to kill before we check in to the rayokan we decided to explore the island,after a cup of coffee of course.
                        The Itsukushima shrine and its with its floating torii gate is the number one attraction on the island so this was obvious the main destination for Lady Watson whilst seeing a sign for the island aquarium made me decide this was going to be my main destination on the island.
                 To get to the aquarium I had to walk around the bay which contained the shrine whilst Lady Watson headed into the shrine and as it bisected the bay she had taking her pictures, perused the shrine and had exited from the other side just in time for me to meet up with her.
One thing about the island is its wildlife especially the deer which roam all over the island and have become very tame.They have a taste for paper and tourists are warned to keep it out of their reach especially ferry tickets and souvenirs.
                              Being a typical Japanese island it was full of wooden houses and buildings.In rural Japan wooden buildings seem to be the norm whilst cities are infested with earthquake proof skyscrapers.I suppose wooden buildings are easier to replace after earthquakes.
                       We eventually arrived at the aquarium and once again I was amazed at the range of fish and aquatic creatures that were on display.From local species through to the wonders of the Pacific.
                 The first exhibit concerned the local oyster fishing with actual oyster infested ropes on display.The oyster tank also contained other local species swimming around in shoals.
                         The next tank,which was my favourite,contained a fantastic selection of rays,groupers,sharks and a very menacing conger eel.The sharks although small would swim near the surface showing off the ominous dorsal fin which imagine still puts the shivers up people.
                           Moving on I was amazed by the various species including porpoises in a giant glass tank.These ever smile creatures swam around looking as though they didn't have a care in the world coming across to peer at us looking as though they were trying to engage us in conversation.Amazing beasts.
                           Once again there were tanks of different jelly fish swimming and dancing in some extra terrestrial like movement.All it needed was some John Williams soundtrack to accompany it.
                       Moving through the aquarium there were more sei terrestrial creatures on display.Amphibians,snakes and even some otters who seem to prefer playing about in plastic basin rather than the well thought out in the connecting tank.I suppose it's the same as children when they forget about the new toy and play with the box instead.
                         Outside was a tank containing some very fussy Humboldt
penguins as they were being picky when the assistant brought their lunch out expecting to be hand fed.Next to the penguin tank was a tank containing one very fed up sealion who kept on mumping and moaning throughout the afternoon.
                           After our visit we decided to head for our accommodation courtesy of a taxi.The road up the hill was a bit hairy as we were getting the tail end of a typhoon at the time.We eventually reached the drop of point and proceeded to head warily into the wood before being met by what can only be described as a Japanese type gingerbread house albeit along period style.
We were met by a friendly host who after making sure we had taken our shoes off showed us to our room which I thought was amazing.As previously mentioned it had wooden walls and tatami matted floors and I was beginning to think that I had stepped back in time until I saw a tv and then a fridge.
Apart from these hiccups the place looked fab.We were handed kimonos and yakatas and shown to our bath which had been filled ready for our visit.It was not as hot as I would have imagined but it still done the job.
Suitably refreshed we were then shown to another adjoining room were starters for our Japanese banquet had been set up.It was a fantastic set up with different varieties of fish and pickled vegetables awaiting our selection.Every so often our host would come in with more delicacies including the ubiquitous oyster which Ilook on with some trepidation but was content to eat it when I found out that it was served hot and had been cooked in garlic and butter.Anything cooked in this way is usually delicious and this was no exception.More beef and chicken dishes were provided albeit not in large portions which made for a more pleasant meal.The meal as finished off with Japanese sweets and fresh fruit.When we retired to our room we found that our futons had been laid out ready for use.
                      We settled down for the night with only the sound of the river running outside the house.
                        Morning came after one of the most noiseless night's sleep I've had for a long time.In the morning we joined the rest of the guests for breakfast and although it was a western breakfast it still had fish,rice and miso soup with it.Obviously the frankfurter and croissant gave it a western taste.
                      We said our farewells and thank them for their fantastic hospitality and after visiting yet another cable car headed back down the hill towards the ferry port and the eventual train ride back to Tokyo.
"We're on our way home"

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