After touring Hiroshima, we took a trolley back to the train station and then took a local train to Miyajima-guchi. From there, we walked across the small town and took a ferry to Miyajima island. Here we're waiting in line to board.

Pictured on the billboard is Miyajima Island (Actually Miya Island). The ferries land on the left side of the island. I added a little green star to the photo to illustrate the location of our hotel,  the Jukeiso Ryokan, toward the right side.

After arriving on the island, the information desk at the ferry landing called the hotel for us. Our good fortune continued as it happened that the shuttle for the hotel was already just outside picking up another family heading for the same place. After winding through the small village, the van headed up this dirt path on the way to our lodgings for the night.


I was really looking forward to this experience. The  Jukeiso is a Ryokan style hotel which means that it follows the traditional Japanese customs for hospitality. When we arrived, we had to walk down a series of stone flagged steps to reach the entrance. Ahead of us is the second family that had accompanied us in the van.

Notice the sign. Announcing us by name was just one small indication of the stellar level of service at this hotel. As we entered, we found a set of cubbies on the right where we could exchange our street shoes for slippers. In addition, there were wooden geta slippers available for walking outside the hotel. After checking in, our gracious hostess showed us to our room.


A Ryokan room has a number of special features. First is the tatami reed matting that covers the floor. On tatami floors, you should always walk in your stocking or bare feet. The pillows for sitting are called zabuton cushions. As a concession to our Western habits, a legless chair is also provided so we could lean back. There were Western beds as well if we decided against using futons for sleeping. Behind Jennifer to the left is the tokonoma, a decorative alcove, with a vase and wall hanging to further enhance the meditative mood.

After settling in, Jennifer and I walked around the village a bit. First, we headed up the mountain a little further. Looking back, you can see our hotel. The second window down, first from the left opens into our room. The basement, with the tall narrow windows, was the hotel ofuro, where you could take an open bath. More on that later.


Once again, it was overcast and lightly raining, but it gave a really pleasant atmosphere to the surroundings. A small rivulet ran through the village. Since it was now about 5:00 in the afternoon, all of the shops were closed. I suspect that few people actually live on the island as we were almost entirely alone as we walked.

This was a small spring near the entrance of the shrine used for purification before entering. Note the long handled tin cup used to scoop the water.

Behind us is the red torii of Miyajima Island. It is one of the most classic symbols for the island and leads the way to the Itsuku-shima-jinja Shrine which was founded on the island in 593 AD.

Another striking feature of the island was the dozens, even hundreds of tame deer that wandered the village streets right along side the human inhabitants.


Back at our room, this is a view outside our window. You can see one of the ferries in the distance. Following the tradition of the Ryokan hotel, it was now time to bathe. Donning my yukata and slippers, I headed down to the basement. As it happened, the last guest was leaving as I entered the dressing room. I had the bath entirely to myself. As noted above, tall narrow windows opened from the baths onto the same view as I had from my room window.

It was an incredible, life affirming experience. Yes, it was that memorable to me.

During that evening, both before dinner and afterwards, I spent much time at the window looking out at the houses, shops, hills and forest. It was so quiet that you could clearly hear the frogs, crickets, gentle breeze, drops of rain water and the occasional cat. There were no city sounds at all, not the least little noise except for the the faint, faint hum of the ferry boat as it cruised back and forth. But even then, you could tell that it was miles away and it actually enhanced the peaceful feeling.

Below is a series of photographs I stitched together to give a better picture of the view outside our window. The red pagoda to the right is where we stood to take the picture of the hotel where I pointed out our room. To the left is the red torii where Jennifer and I took our picture together. (Note: Thanks to my new copy of Photoshop, I was able to create a much better panorama. To see it in a much larger format, just click the image)

Finally, it was time for our meal. Included in the price of our room was dinner and breakfast. Since we had chosen the Japanese cuisine, our meal was primarily sashimi, tofu, vegetables, fruit, rice and green tea. The raw egg was mixed into the little saucepan next to it and cooked by lighting a candle in the stand that held it above the table. This was the first course of several that were to follow over the next couple of hours. The goal here is to eat slowly, savor each bite and converse with your tablemate. Heh, as it happened, we watched a little television during the meal. Among other things, we saw the Japanese version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", only here it was 10 million yen which is actually only about $100,000.