A dear friend asked me to hike to the top of Hiroshima's famous Miyajima island on the weekend and although I feel less than fit after months of sitting in front of a computer, how could I resist a chance to see a friend and do a wonderful hike on a magical island?
On the way to the island, I stopped for a coffee at a beautiful Sakura decorated Starbucks for a soy latte in a reusable mug, sat on the terrace and enjoyed the view. Chatted with a young couple and their cute pugs- On and Sen = because they are crazy about Japanese baths (called Onsens) :)
I tried the new vegetarian soy-burger foccacia and glad to see they have a non-meat and non-fish option now, next step is to have food not wrapped in single-use plastic, get rid of plastic cups and straws, but at least the eat-in mug is reusable.
Pre-Covid I was able to do the walk up in 90 minutes, but this time going more slowly it took 2 hours. Met friendly people along the way, exchanging cheerful Konnichiwa with every passerby kept me going.
On the way up, I was thinking of the stories of forest foraging from Winifred Bird and trying to see if there were any edibles amongst the trees.
I went inside two beautiful temples near the lookout to admire the craftsmanship of the traditional woodwork thinking of all the wonderful stories I learned from Azby Brown and Jon Stollenmeyer about Japanese carpentry and building design.
Decided my legs were too rubbery to risk a twisted knee or ankle on the way down, I joined up with a group of young women hiking to the top for training for a trip to Mt.Fuji later in the year.
We talked of their careers in Japan and years working in various locations across the US working for the military. I was glad to meet them, but also glad they had found each other to hike and enjoy traveling around Japan together.
Once I got back to the bottom of the mountain, it was getting more crowded on the island around midday and I made my way back to the ferry port via the backstreets.
On the way back, I did see the UNESCO listed site- Itsukushima shrine- in its beautiful floating state, the sakura blossoms next to the 5-story pagoda and the 1000 mat hall on my way back. I also walked slowly next to one of the island's resident deer on a classic backstreet.
So many beautiful moments like this every time I visit Miyajima. As it is in my backyard, I need to make an effort to get there more regularly- at least once each season.