Miyajima

Day began rather abruptly with me hustling everyone up and out the door by 7:30 – hurrying to catch the 8:47 high tide at Miyajima so that we could see the torii gate "floating" in the ocean. The tram obliged by getting held up near the station (my first ever "tram jam") so we hurried on foot and caught the later train, worrying that it would wash out and we would miss the sight, inched down to Miyajimaguchi, hurried across for the JR ferry, chugged across the water – nearly half an hour late for high tide – and it was still in the water. An hour later, it was still in the water. Two hours later, even. And three hours later. Oh how we laughed about getting up that early.

The island itself is touristy, fun and quite lovely in an odd mix. The standover tactics of the deer set to strip everything edible from your person are quite in-your-face (literally) and although the place is full of shops and souvenirs, they have a bit of an unsophisticated feel and the prices are not the usual gouging of such places. We omitted the shrine due to recently diagnosed shrine fatigue, although Mem and I did sneak away to a Zen temple while the girls reviewed their purchases sitting on the steps. Cal and I also had a look at Senjojaku, the thousand-mat-hall, started but not completed by a wealthy landowner, and populated by an enormous collection of inscribed rice ladles which apparently stem from some lame pun made by a soldier stationed there a century ago.

Our day was punctuated by a group of senior high school girls on a day trip, who’d been on the train with us down to Miyajimaguchi and fell in love with Edie and Cal. One had lived in Adelaide and had perfect English with a very familiar accent – we bumped into them several times which triggered explosions of waving at E and C, who are a little weary of being conspicuous and weren’t quite into it as much. They also interviewed Mem a couple of times as part of their school assignment. At low tide (apparently it does happen eventually) they were down on the sand with us and insisted on a group photo, it was pretty cool and we felt like minor celebrities. Ate some momiji manju maple leaf cakes, had a quick walk in the forests and before we knew it 3/4 of the day was gone, it’s a lovely place. Got back to the city in the later afternoon and tried a couple of underwhelming trips to secondhand shops, interesting but nothing worth picking up.

And saving the best to last – Miyajima, of all places, has a small dedicated Hello Kitty shop and it was there that the dreadful wrong of Hello Kitty’s loss was made partially good. She has returned with a slightly new furstyle and clad in the finery of her native country. We are all very pleased for Cal – the cat is back.

Have also enjoyed copious e-mail and photos from our housesitters who seem to be loving Hobart’s charms – while we are all away!

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