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Miyajima’s Mt. Misen

After having seen a concert on Sunday night in Miyajima, we stayed overnight and enjoyed the town the next day.

Miyajima is a very nice, quaint area that's been popular for tourists for over a thousand years, so I was surprised to find that it was not hyper-commercialized and disgustingly crowded. I'm sure it helped that we were there on a weekday, but in any case, it was clean, pleasant, and real. The bench scene that I posted yesterday tells a lot, I think.

Since Fumie's mom was looking after Anthony (thank you, thank you, thank you!), Fumie and I were free to enjoy the area at our leisure, and it felt like a 2nd honeymoon.

There's a ropeway that goes toward the top of Mt. Misen, the tallest mountain on the island, so we decided to give that a try. Most of the streets in the little town are pleasant, but the one that leads toward the ropeway happens to be particularly nice.

Road Leading to the Ropeway -- Miyajima, Hiroshima, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 60mm — 1/250 sec, f/4.8, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Road Leading to the Ropeway
Heading Up -- Miyajima, Hiroshima, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 18mm — 1/250 sec, f/8, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Heading Up

The ropeway is in two parts (elevation sectional view), the first going up 300m over a distance of about 1.1 km (two thirds of a mile), then a section that goes up 70m in about half the distance. The picture below is just before arriving at the transfer spot, looking back down.

Looking Back -- Miyajima, Hiroshima, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 18mm — 1/200 sec, f/8, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking Back

Once you arrive at the top of the ropeway, it's a short hike to a local summit that has a very nice view, at about 450m above sea level.

Shishi-iwa (“Lion Rock”) Observation Area, 448m -- Miyajima, Hiroshima, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 18mm — 1/1000 sec, f/7.1, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Shishi-iwa (“Lion Rock”) Observation Area, 448m

(All these images are geoencoded, but note that the location as shown on Google satellite maps is off by about 100m for the ones up on the mountain. I'd guess this is because the satellite was not looking absolutely straight down, and so there are some major Parallax errors.)

Despite having spent 1,800 yen ($15) each for the ropeway, it doesn't actually bring you to the top of the mountain. For that you have to hike about 1.3 km further. It's not a difficult hike in the sense that the path is completely improved the whole way, with stairs where needed. The problem is the “where needed” is much of the way, as you have to first lose about 30m of elevation, then over the last short distance climb 125m of elevation.

So, in one sense, it's no harder than taking the stairs to the 41st floor (after having started on the 10th floor, and gone down to the ground floor).

It's more interesting than climbing stairs, of course. There's a temple along the way, and interesting rock formations, such as this one close to the top...


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 18mm — 1/1000 sec, f/3.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Watch your Head
The Kuguri-iwa — くぐり岩 — “Duck-under Rock”

Once at the top (535m), you're treated to a horrid sight, but I'll save that for later. The view of the surroundings is wonderful.


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 34mm — 1/3200 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
View From the Top

The building complex in the lower-left of the picture above is the ropeway terminal building. The little clearing to its upper-right is the Shishiiwa Observation Area (mentioned a couple of pictures earlier).


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 90mm — 1/1600 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Well-Earned View
Me and Fumie kindly taken by an Australian wearing a silly hat -- Miyajima, Hiroshima, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 42mm — 1/2000 sec, f/8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Me and Fumie
kindly taken by an Australian wearing a silly hat

The sort-of clearing at the top had some huge boulders which, I imagine, were the very top, but where mostly inaccessible. Some college-age kids had climbed onto them, and feeling young myself, I put my ancient rock-climbing skills to the test and joined them. (I used to go rock climbing quite a bit before I got married, but gave it up because I worried that the rock would scuff my wedding ring.)

One of the guy's girlfriend extended the legs on her camera's tripod to extend her reach, and handed it up to them. The picture I took of the scene came out interesting, I think....


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 18mm — 1/750 sec, f/8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Extended Reach
View From the Very Top -- Miyajima, Hiroshima, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 18mm — 1/1250 sec, f/8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
View From the Very Top

The aforementioned “horrid sight” is a notably ugly concrete-and-rust building at the summit. Only in Japan could you spend hours hiking through pristine forests, past quaint temples, through and around interesting natural rock formations, only to finally arrive at the most ugly, most inappropriate building you could imagine.

There was one worker there, an older gentleman who likely spends most of his time smoking and feeding the deer, occasionally selling beer, sodas, ice-cream, and other snacks to the steady trickle of tourists that make it that far. He said that he hikes up and down every day, and doesn't use the ropeway.

I'm sure that he gets more business on weekends and holidays. I've seen pictures of the summit just packed with people.

On the way back down, I noticed someone else trying to negotiate the boulders, without success....


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 22mm — 1/1600 sec, f/8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos

Nikon D200 + Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR @ 18mm — 1/80 sec, f/8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Back at the Ropeway
About to head down

On the car ferry for the short trip to the mainland, I took a picture that shows much of the first part of the ropeway....

Mt. Misen Ropeway, as Seen From 2km Away -- Miyajima, Hiroshima, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 135mm — 1/640 sec, f/4.5, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Mt. Misen Ropeway, as Seen From 2km Away

Continued here...


Comments so far....

Interesting. Love the shot of the observation area — great impression of space.

— comment by Gustaf Erikson on October 4th, 2007 at 10:13pm JST (6 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Why no pic of the Australian? or the silly hat?

— comment by Michael Friedl on October 5th, 2007 at 1:08am JST (6 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Wow. A second honeymoon, well documented on film. Ya know, I as much as I’ve enjoyed it so far, I think I’ll skip tomorrow’s blog :-O

— comment by Marcina, Jeffrey's sister. on October 5th, 2007 at 10:23am JST (6 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink
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