Something was seriously wrong with me on Friday. It was like our slowness the prior day manifested in taking all of my energy away. I was dragging myself along from the minute we started out for the tram. It didn’t help that we were out of breakfast food at home so we didn’t get much to eat until we got to Hiroshima station 30 min later. We got the train there for Miyajimaguchi. The JR train pass also gets you on the island ferry for free and at 9:30 in the morning it was high tide and beautiful coming into the port. We walked up to the torii (best to see it at high and low tide) and waited as the throngs of tourists (and the most foreigners we had seen so far) jostled for a clear photo op. I was not in the mood for all the people and we counted our blessings we had come on a weekday. We left the masses after a quick stop at the post office and walked a quiet woodland trail up to what is considered the most notable temple for the sect of Buddhism referred to as Esoteric Buddism. The temple grounds were really beautiful, a lovely courtyard of bells to welcome guests and an underground cave were folks who cannot complete Shikoku’s temple pilgrimage can pray to all 88 of the temple Buddhas.
We had not prepared well for meals and by lunch time I was so hungry I nearly fell down a walking path. I was also not keen to eat along the main drag with hundreds of other tourists. We stumbled upon a beautiful little tea room in the upper streets that had a lunch set. They also had the place really cooled down and since it was 96 degrees we were dying for a respite from the heat. The lunch set was three dishes plus dessert. A small tofu appetizer, two rice balls with grilled oysters and a soba noodle salad. It was totally delicious and the tiny refreshing dessert was a milk gelato with orange preserves. Heaven.
Dan wanted to see the Torii at low tide (5:30pm) so we moseyed around the town stopping into shops. The island has a special cream/jelly filled cake cookie called Momiji and at lots of shops you can watch them making it. We tried a cream filled fresh one and decided it was all more hype than anything and not worth the souvenir box. We went to the Miyajima Treasure House at the shrine. Were it not for the two incredible sets of armour as you walk in the door it would have been a huge disappointment and not worth the admission.
Dan wanted raw oysters next… This region of Japan has special ones. We were concerned since oysters are not in season in August but found out that they farm them. I was still full from lunch so I had a beer and watched Dan enjoy them. The shop owner brought us his iPhone so that we could watch the summer fireworks display over the Miyajima torii on YouTube!
Before we hopped the ferry back we made it into the Miyajima Traditional Crafts store. I am really glad we didn’t miss it. The place was full of both museum quality pieces and retail wooden carved vessels and utensils. Some of the most gorgeous craft work we had seen. I bought a small incense jar made of black persimmon wood that is too beautiful an object to describe.
We were contemplating going back to Mokumoku for more okonomiyaki for dinner but it seemed silly to repeat a place… And, on the way home Thursday we had discovered what I thought was a tiny take-out dumpling place that seemed worth a try (right near to our place). When we got there it turned out that it was actually a long narrow izakaya and it was jammed. We got counter seats and started up a lively, albeit broken, dialogue.
The shishamo, shishito peppers and steak were good but the dumplings (we had them fried and steamed) were off the charts. I think they might be the best gyoza I have ever had. All the waiters had t-shirts that said dumplings for 50 years, or no dumplings, no life. Awesome end to the week. My best night of sleep so far this trip also!
Photos: oysters in Miyajima, deer trying to steal from Dan, Miyajima Torii at high tide, dumplings right near U-12 tram stop in Hiroshima