Welcome to day one of our ‘Osaka Trip’! Our family trips are well known to be a ‘lets see how much we can do in just four day’ kind of trips. This one was no exception. Having never been to Osaka and the surrounding areas, we thought it was finally time venture West.
We took off from Tokyo in the evening to our first stop, Hiroshima! Here, we stayed the night in the wonderfully new and quiet WeBase Hostel. And we really do mean ‘wonderful’, as it was an exceptional hostel. An added bonus: there was only 3 of us in a 50 bed mixed dorm! So after a solid night’s rest, it was time for a fun-filled day 1.
Just a hop, a train ride, a skip, and a ferry ride away from Hiroshima was our first destination, Miyajima Island. If you’ve done your research on Japan, you would know how famous this island is. Known for it’s floating Torii gates, Miyajima Island (literally ‘shrine island’) is a tourist hotspot for foreigners and locals. Unfortunately, the famous Torii gates were under construction but there was still plenty to do on the island.
We visited the islands temples and shrines, with Itsukushima Shrine being a definite highlight. From ancient times, the island itself was worshipped as a god. Since then, many ancient rites and riuals have been practiced at the site. At the end of Japan’s Heian Period, in 1168, Taira no Kiyomori, one of the most powerful men in Japan at the time chose the island as the site of his family shrine. It was finally named a World Heritage Site in 1996, attracting thousands of visitors from around the world every year. Rightly so, the shrine itself has a mystical and magical atmophere as you wander through the corridors.
Another highlight was going to the Miyajima Public Acquarium. Neither of us have really been to many acquarium’s, but we had heard Japan’s acquariums are some of the best in the world. WOW. They were right. We had a suprisingly amazing time and particularly enjoyed obsessing over the beautiful manta-rays and jellyfish. A fun fact: the island is also well known for the deer that wander through the streets!
Of course our adventures that day involved some wonderful food including Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) and Momiji Manju (sweet bean paste ‘anko’ wrapped in a castella-like dough and shaped into a ‘momiji’, maple leaf). DELICIOUS. Not to mention that it is summer here in Japan so there may have been more than one trip to the ice cream vendor.
Our last stop was up the double ropeway: yes, double. First, we took a ropeway then changed to a gondola to reach Shishiwa lookout. The lookout has stunningly beautiful views to the far side of the island and the surrounding island chain. Breathtaking is the only word to describe it! But due to the heat, we eventually made our way back down to the island streets to get in some last Momiji Manju before hopping back on the ferry and catching the train back to Hiroshima.