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.

At the top, met with beautiful views of the surrounding Seto Insland sea as well as a few blossoming Sakura cherry trees. 

Here's the view from the top https://youtu.be/uLfgIVah4cs

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.