Saturday, May 14, 2016

Ryokan by the Park

Accommodation in Miyajima was the part we confirmed last, done just a week before our departure. I scratched the original plan of staying in a larger hotel and instead make a last-minute reservation at Iwaso, a cozier ryokan a few steps up at the foot of the mountain not far away from the Itsukushima Shrine and the famous floating torii-gate, both of which part of the UNESCO world heritage site.

We made a good call of leaving our rolling suitcases in our next stop of Hiroshima and traveled with just a shoulder bag with necessities as we took the train then ferry into the island. Miyajima is mostly a walking town so travelling light made things so much easier, instead of having to drag our suitcases through the rocky footpath up and down the slopes.

Apart from the Itsukushima Shrine and the floating torii gate above the water on the coast, Miyajima is also famous for wild deer wandering freely on the island. They were quite friendly, not aggressive at all and certainly made good photo companions. So for deer lovers, here's one more place to go apart from Nara (though we were told not to touch or feed them)

We checked in to the ryokan early after our second lunch (anago-meshi followed by grilled oysters). The ryokan was surrounded by green trees and located next to a river, and being part of the Momiji Park leading up to the mountain. The entrance is in the original building dated back to the mid-1850s, with the connecting new wing built in the same classic style with wood.

We were staying in the new wing in the traditional Japanese tatami room. Our room on the 3rd floor was facing the beautiful shades of green with the river flowing just underneath - you can't ask for a more tranquil view outside. At the end of the hallway outside on the balcony there's a view of the whole Miyajima town from a slightly higher vantage point, though the shrine and torii were partially blocked by some houses in front.

The onsen baths were at the lowest floor, with a flight of stairs leading down. There is a decent outdoor bath too, with the view of the river flowing by. There were other guests staying at the ryokan that day but we hardly saw anyone, so it felt like they were our private hot-spring baths.

At first I was a bit concerned the place seems a bit out of the way but turned out it's super convenient. Before dinner we walked back down to catch the low tide of the coast, so we could get up close to the torii-gate as water has subsided. Dinner was served in our room, and presented in elaborate manner of course as we would expect. Sea eels, asari clams and oysters were considered the three most famous food delicacies on the island, and they all made their appearance in some of the courses.

Next morning after a sumptuous breakfast and an early dip in the hot-spring bath, we made a leisure stroll in the park and enjoyed this quiet ambiance with all the trees and flowers and no one in sight. We walked by the few cottages that belong to the ryokan not far from the main building, which were still in use occasionally as guest room or for functions. In fact one of the cottages was the venue for the dinner for G7 Foreign Ministers only a couple of weeks ago during the summit held in Hiroshima. Perhaps next time we will stay there?

Where? Ryokan Iwaso, Minamimachi-345-1 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture
岩惣 広島県廿日市市宮島町もみじ谷

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