Deer Diary

Eventually, I came to the decision that despite having been there before, there was no way to skip going to Miyajima, being as Hiroshima and Miyajima traditionally work as a team. Like Batman and Robin. Or Starsky and Hutch. I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore. I was reluctant to pay for another night at the hotel, so a plan was established to head to Miyajima immediately after the workday ended on Thursday. Leaving my gear at the hotel and swiftly switching footwear to the godly FiveFingers, I was ready to undertake the 40-minute tramride to Miyajimaguchi. One additional ferry trip later, I disembarked at Itsukushima (Miyajima).

You shall not pass!

The view was inherently different than the last time I visited, in January 2009. At around 18:40, there was nobody to be seen on the island. The once abundant snack shops on the coast had vanished, and all restaurants were closed. One lone deer was wandering in front of the ferry station. I immediately preferred this scenario to the tourist-saturated daytime. Watching the sun slowly set, listening to the birds singing and talking to the deer felt almost therapeutic compared to the hectic nature of peak times. I was getting hungry, but decided that if I were to attempt climbing Mt. Misen I would need to do it as soon as possible to avoid getting lost in the dark mountainous forest, or sylvan mountain depending on the point of view.

Ca va être tout noir!

Ta gueule!

After having chosen one of the three available paths (Daishō-in) and hiked until about halfway towards the top, I realized that it was going to be pitch black in about ten minutes and there were no lights anywhere on the path. At that point I came back to my senses. A steep mountain path, in the forest, on a remote island, a couple of kilometers from civilization where nobody can hear my screams is not the place I want to be at when darkness comes. Although I guess from that altitude my screams could have been heard pretty well.

Unfortunately, they would most likely only have contributed to creating a legend, a local equivalent to the bête du Gevaudan, if you will. Then years later, when my bones are found, investigators would determine that I was killed by the aforementioned beast, oblivious to the fact that I was the beast.

I lost my train of thought and can’t afford another ticket.

After the quick descent, I walked through the empty residential area before stopping for some scenic photography involving the famous floating torii.

Well, it was low tide so it's not really floating

Unlike I had previously thought, there were some souvenir shops still open well after 7 pm, most selling the standard tourist crap and culturally mandatory omiyage: Momiji Manjū. I ended up buying a couple packs for the office. The ferry back to mainland was empty and to my misery I discovered that the dinner buffet would be over by the time I arrived back at the hotel. Luckily, an Ippudo branch shop was found a couple blocks from the Crowne Plaza. The rest is history. As well as indigestion.

Here’s a local curiosity, taken in front of the toilet at the Miyajima ferry port. People stared at me for photographing a toilet gate. Thrice. What’s wrong with that?

I dread the day when some knobhead will decide that this is discrimination

-Momiji “Antti” Manjū

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