January 19, 2009

Miyajima Vacation

After rescheduling my holiday plans at the last minute, I ended up in Miyajima (宮島) for the first-half of the break; visiting Itsukushima Jinja (厳島神社), Iwakuni (岩国), and the Museum of Modern Art in Hiroshima (広島市現代美術館).

The Museum and Itsukushima Jinja were outstanding, and I ate my fill of Hiroshimayaki 広島焼き, yakigaki 焼きがき, and momijimanju もみじ饅頭 while in the area. All were excellent.

For lodging, I had the good fortune of staying at Backpackers Miyajima, which is located right across from the actual island of Miyajima. It was started up by a young Japanese guy who had spent 2 years teaching Japanese in Michigan, USA. He came back to Japan, grew tired of his job, and decided to start up a hostel. It just opened in November of 2008 so everything was new and clean :) In addition, most of the staff are local Hiroshima University students. In my four night stay, I drank with the staff, had some great conversations, and really made some great connections. One of the staff members had done a home stay in Arkansas, USA where my mom's side of the family is from, so we had a lot to talk about.

Perhaps the best park of the stay was the Saturday night takoyaki (たこ焼き) party, where everyone comes together and helps make takoyaki while drinking and talking in the main common area. I met some memorable people from Japan, Venezuela, England, and Finland over drinks. While the hostel is about 25 min outside of downtown Hiroshima, it is definately worth a night or 2 stay. For those of you like me who have already been to Hiroshima and seen the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum etc. this might be a better option, especially if you want to hike Misen Mountain (弥山) and spend more time on Miyajima.

The takoyaki party actually led me to acquire my own takoyaki maker (たこ焼き器) and boy was it worth it. I'm planning my own little takoyaki party soon. Happy New Year and do your best to make your goals for the new year come true.

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