Miyajima 宮島

Miyajima is the home of the floating torii, probably the most photographed shrine in Japan.  The shrine was surrounded by a park, filled with deer.  There was also a cable car to the mountain top.  Unfortunately, we got there around 4pm and both the shrine and cable car closed at 5pm, so we couldn’t visit both.

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Iwakuni 岩国

Iwakuni is just under an hour west of Hiroshima, and is famous for its Kintai Bridge 錦帯橋, a traditional wooden bridge originally built in 1673.  It was built using no nails, and you can see how the wood slots together to hold the bridge in one piece.  But then the river flooded and washed the bridge away…  The current is a faithful reconstruction and this time they wisely added some spikes to hold the pieces together.

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Naruto Whirlpools 鳴門

Naruto is a place I had wanted to see for a long time. Naruto is on Shikoku on the opposite side of Kobe on Honshu. Due to the shape of the seabed there, during high and low tides, huge whirlpools appear in the middle of the sea. The whirlpools last about 1hr before and after the tide peaks, and are not visible every day. The problem is that it’s very hard to get to, requiring careful timing of transfers so that you arrive in time for the tides. Getting there took about 2.5hrs, but getting out took us 5hrs because we couldn’t link the transfers.

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