Friday, 1 January 2016

Travel: Japan 2015 Day 13 // Miyajimaguchi // Stay: Watanabe Inn


Early in the morning, we left Osaka to make our way to Miyajima Island, where I have booked for a night stay to spend New Year's Eve.

From Namba subway, we headed to Shin-Osaka station where we boarded Shinkansen Sakura (covered by the JR Rail Pass) to Hiroshima, then transfered to JR Sanyo Line until Miyajimaguchi station.
Because there is Mister Donut at Shin-Osaka station...
 From then, we boarded the ferry to reach the island.

For tonight, we are staying at Watanabe Inn, a quaint traditional style accommodation, located just in front of the Daisho-In Temple.

We were picked up by Watanabe-san and his wife Yuki-san (and their very cute son - Jun) from Miyajima Ferry station. After dropping our bags, we hiked the Mt. Misen (2 hours up, 2 hours down). There is a coffee shop selling snacks and tea/coffee at the start of the course.

It was a winding long road uphill, but we loved the course. And the view from up the top was breathtaking too. Well, people can actually opt to go up by ropeway, but we are extremists, so up we went through the Momijidani Course (which I am sure would be more beautiful in autumn with all the maple trees)...

There are a couple of clusters of temples at and near the top of Mt. Misen with plenty of statues strewn about.

How cute is this guy:

The best tasting cup noodle ever (there is a shop selling them in front of the temple) -_- as we were famished after the hike to the top.

 Day was pretty cloudy and it rained a bit :(

The line separating the sky and the sea blurred away... .

And then down we went to Daisho-In Temple and back on ground level. This temple is so gorgeous.

The reason I chose Miyajima Island as a place to stay on New Year's Eve is because, while almost all Japan stayed silent for the last night of the year, this place has a festival!

A fiery one at that!


firemen standing by... as I'm not kidding, that night there was a lot of fire!
 Locals carried the big Taimatsu/ torches to the Itsukushima Shrine to be lit up by the priests.

Then the big torches made their way up and down the main streets for people to light up their smaller torches.

We were also given some Taimatsu / torch (the cigarette looking bundle of wood) to be burnt (then after following the big Taimatsu 3 rounds, you have to put out the flames). The Taimatsu is to be kept for the ful year until the next Chinkasai festival. This is for good luck and to prevent fire in the house.

Chinkasai Fire Festival is truly an unforgettable experience.

The street leading to Itsukushima Shrine was lined with lots of stalls serving food and small games to keep people fed and entertained, as there were a lot of people hanging around waiting for the new year to arrive, then to offer their first prayers for the new year at the temples.

We stayed at Watanabe Inn for New Year's Eve.
I paid JPY108000 for a room for 4 people which includes a kaiseki dinner and special breakfast for New Year.

Our burnt taimatsu

The dinner. All I can say is wow. You should consider staying here just for the meal. The chef selected the best ingredients and prepared them impeccably. Looked as good on the table as they tasted on the tongue.

The place is very rustic looking but very clean and charming. All the little decors added to the ambience.

New Year's decoration

 宮島町滝町215-1, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0524

And so I close this day's entry with the icon of Miyajma. The majestic floating torii gate.

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