Japan Trip Pictures – Miyajima Hen

Posted on January 29th, 2008 in Travel by andrija

Located half an hour by train and ten minutes by ferry south of Hiroshima, the Miyajima island is considered to be one of “the three most picturesque locations in Japan”. True to its name, the largest number of nice photos on my trip came from there. True, we did have great weather (too hot and humid, yes, but bright and sunny) and good photography conditions (angle of the sun etc.) so photos ended up looking good. Indirectly that is probably one of the reasons the location is considered “picturesque” – if the lighting conditions are good for camera, they are good for your eyes too, making you enjoy a scene more than at another location even if that other location objectively doesn’t look any worse.

The signature attraction is the famous Grand Gate. Here it is pictured at night. At this time the tide is high so the gate is actually in the water. I didn’t have the tripod but luckily there is a long stone fence along the shore which substituted for the tripod and allowed for long expositions.

Contrast this to how the gate looks in the afternoon, at the low tide. Now you can walk all the way from the shore and touch it or go through it if you wish.

Here is a nice perspective regarding the distance and overall layout of the small bay in front of the Itsukushima shrine.

They say the beauty of Miyajima comes from the contrast of colours – vermilion (crimson?) colour they use for religious buildings (shrine, gate, pagodas etc.), blue sea (and may I add sky?) and the green hills. There’s more to that, however. Look at this beautiful blend of colours during low tide – adding yellow of the sand.

Another staple of Miyajima are “sacred” deer. Being sacred, they are allowed to roam everywhere they want and you are not allowed to harm them. They are wild but over centuries they have accustomed to that kind of treatment so not only they are not shy of people but they are actually aggressive because they expect you to feed them. I have not experienced any deer harassment though so I still like them.

Being a tourist spot, obviously you would expect to see a lot of school excursions in this place during mid September.

The island naturally has a mountain – Mount Misen – and while you can climb it using one of several trails, it’s easier to take a cable car (ropeway). Not one, but two cable car rides are required to get to the top. This is the Shishiiwa line.

At the top ropeway station you are “greeted” by another “sacred” animal – monkeys. Yes, these are even more aggressive and will actually steal bags from people expecting to find food in them. You are encouraged to leave all your bags at free lockers at the cable car station. Cameras are safe though – monkeys are smart after all and after trying it once and finding it’s not edible, they don’t try to grab those any more.

Most of the time time though monkeys do their usual monkey business. Perhaps that’s why people keep coming up, to see scenes like these.

The other reason people would come up is to visit – or worship at – the shrines and temples. As usual, at the top of the mountain. And as usual, even though there is a cable car you will still need to walk about a kilometre to get to it. The physical exertion must be a part of the pilgrimage to a shrine since this is the case with majority of them. Here’s looking back to the cable car station from the shrine trail.

Unfortunately the set of shrines on Mount Misen isn’t as picturesque (to me) as the rest of the island. Here is the eternal fire hall – the fire inside has been burning uninterrupted for 1200 years.

One of the interesting shrine details are the scary images on the roof (or should I say shingles?).

Meanwhile at the base of the mountain ropeway in Momijidani park, deer are grazing. It makes for some really nice pictures.  They are also eating grass, not people stuff.

The Itsukushima shrine complex with the gate is the focal point of the Miyajima tours. Above it there is a five-storied pagoda.

As with the gate, when the tide is low you can see the seabed the shrine is sitting on. It’s a fairly pretty shrine and not too small either. But it doesn’t look much out of the norm, other than the way it’s built. This bridge is where you’d exit your tour – but during the low tide you have the option of simply walking on the sand towards the gate and climbing up to the seawall or the beach at one of many places. The shrine of course has an entry fee – but as I just realized, you could walk on the sand from the shore and would almost certainly be able to enter the shrine that way without paying. I guess they didn’t consider the mind of a gaijin.

At night the shrine complex is also “floating” on water. The shrine is closed this late though.

Here is the pagoda in its full glory.

The grand gate is just a magnet for a camera. Here is another dramatic picture.

Given the tourist hotspot status and tourism being the main (only?) source of income for the island, you can imagine there would be a shopping arcade and indeed there is a fairly long one for such a small place. The Omotesando shopping arcade.

It all looks very nice at night. Reminds me of my Adriatic sea summer vacations.

In the previous photo you could see another gate at the seawall entrance. This is how it looks during the day.

For the end, here is another example of the contrast of colours.

Not only Xbox360 was First, but they did it better, too

Posted on January 29th, 2008 in Uncategorized by andrija

Haven’t been posting much these days.  I’ll post some pictures from my Japan trip later, but for now, just a note.  PS3 added DivX support shortly after the Xbox360 but unfortunately the support is pretty weak.  While Xbox supports most of my randomly selected files – say 80 to 90 percent – PS3 supports only about 20-30%.  I hear other people have more luck but in any case, the support appears to be half baked and is not of much practical use.  Xbox on the other hand works well.