If I've learned anything throughout my travels, it's to try to live in the moment as much as possible.
Note: If you happened across this post randomly, I suggest that you first read the previous post here because this a continuation of my Miyajima Island adventure!
When I left Miyajima Island the day before, I knew I had to find a reason to come back. After all, I had one more whole day in Hiroshima and I couldn't think of a better way to spend it!
This day started off pretty much the same as the day before: woke up, breakfast and coffee, grabbed drinks from Family Mart, then set out on my way.
I was so proud of myself because I managed to make it all the way to the Miyajima ferry port without using my GPS this time! It felt so good to be able to completely absorb my surroundings as I walked to the station without staring at my phone screen the whole time. When I travel (and in life) I try my best to be on my phone as little as possible so that I can immerse myself in my surroundings without distractions, but when I'm depending on a GPS to get around, that can prove difficult.
Since I wasn't constantly checking my phone to make sure I didn't miss my train stop, I was also able to enjoy the 45-minute train ride. Looking out the window and watching the Japanese landscapes slide past me is one of my favorite things to do.
If I've learned anything throughout my travels, it's to try to live in the moment as much as possible. Other than taking photos and using Maps, I try to keep my phone away. It's easy to get caught up in the social media aspect of traveling and want to take Snapchats and Instagram posts of everything you do, but only when you put your phone away can you be truly immersed.
Once I reached the train station, I walked to the ferry port and boarded the ferry to Miyajima Island. I almost wished the ferry ride was longer than 10 minutes because it's such an enjoyable ride!
Since I already took the time to explore the island the day before, I set aside this day for some hiking. Mount Misen is the highest mountain on the island and I knew I wouldn't forgive myself if I didn't hike it.
Just an aside: you don't have to hike the mountain to enjoy the view from the top. There is also a ropeway that can take you up the mountain if you aren't able to hike it or are on a time constraint. The ropeway is super convenient because you can choose to buy tickets for a round trip which is about $18USD per adult or you can buy a one-way ticket and hike up or down the mountain on foot for about $10USD. Information about the ropeway prices and hours are here (not sponsored).
After I got off the ferry, it took me a good 30-45 minutes to even find the entrance to the mountain hiking trail. I don't know if it was actually hard to find or if I was just oblivious...but I eventually found the entrance and set on my way.
There were very few other tourists who chose to hike the mountain that day, so for most of the hike I was alone and only passed a few people on the way. While I was hiking along the wooded path, I heard a loud rustle in the woods and whipped around to see that there was a doe to my left and a fawn to my right. The moment was surreal. I mean, I suppose it makes sense that the wild, island deer would make their way to the forests and the mountains, but for some reason I didn't expect to see them.
Where I'm from, deer run away at the very sight of a person and you rarely get to see them up close. That made this hiking experience magical: to be on an island, surrounded by nature and friendly, wild animals was like a scene out of a children's fantasy movie.
The hike up Mount Misen was beautiful; full of waterfalls and nature. My only complaint was for much of the hike, stone steps were installed on the path making it much more difficult for somebody with hip and knee issues like me to hike. It would've been a moderate-level hike if it was simply an uphill, but the steps had me struggling a bit. For this reason, I would recommend taking the ropeway up Mount Misen of you have any hip or knee issues.
But alas, after a couple hours I finally made it to the rest area on the mountain. The rest area is about a 15 minute hike from the summit and there you can use the bathroom, buy refreshments from the vending machine, and sit before the final hike. I chugged some water (it was a humid day when I went and I was very dehydrated), used the bathroom, then headed up the steep path to the top.
The hike was difficult and my joints were angry with me...but the view from the summit made every second worth the hike. I had a 360 degree view of the Seto Inland Sea and the surrounding islands from the observatory on Mount Misen (shown in the cover photo if this blog).
I'm not sure how long I stayed on the mountain to soak in the view, but I do know that I heard a distant announcement reminding me that the last ropeway down the mountain would be leaving in a half hour and I was sure as hell not hiking back down the mountain after sunset.
I quickly realized that the ropeway station was further away from the summit than I expected and trotted down the paths, careful not to twist an ankle.
I ended up making it just in time for the last ropeway down the mountain. I could tell that I wasn't the only one who booked it for the last ride because the cabin was full and we were stuffed in like sardines. Luckily, I was squished near the window and the view was spectacular.
Half way down, we transferred to smaller (less crowded) cabins until we reached the station at the bottom.
I took the opportunity to take one last glimpse at the Floating Torii Gate, then headed back to the ferry. By this time it was almost dark and I was so thankful I didn't have to hike back down the mountain.
This was my last day of the Hiroshima portion of my trip and it couldn't have ended on a better note. I went back to my hotel and had dinner and an iced umeshu on the canal, took a hot bath, pre-packed my room for the next morning, and went to bed.
I spent a total of four days in Hiroshima and I can honestly say that those four days were some of the best in my entire life. It didn't start out that way; the first day was really rough but I didn't let that get me down and I changed my own luck. It's easy to become discouraged when you're in another country and things don't turn out how you planned. However, if you're willing to go out of your comfort zone and try new things even if you're scared (especially when you're scared) then you will find yourself growing more than you thought you ever could.
I can't wait to visit Hiroshima and Miyajima again in the future (I'll definitely be back!). But until that day, it was time to set off to the next leg of my adventure!
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See you soon!