The very, very fast Shinkansen took me from Kyoto to Hiroshima at 300 km / h. Wow!
Hiro = Width. Shima = Island. Hiroshima = Wide Island. It is not actually an island, but a group of islands created by the many rivers that run down the mountain and run through the city. Once I got here, I went directly to the ferry station for the crossing to Miyajima Island. Miya = Holy and Jima = Shima = Island. Miyajima = Holy Island. Again, the Shinto equivalence of holiness with beauty, and the place is really very, very beautiful.
Just off the coast, on the water, is Japan’s most famous Vermilion Torii, originally built in the 17th century and marking the passage to a sacred site. The island is also teeming with deer that seem to live quite well with us humans, thank you. They are really annoying and they keep elbowing for food and when they are not fed, they start chewing what they have on hand, like the sleeve of my jacket.
While wandering, I came across a wedding party enjoying an elaborate Shinto dance ritual. I did not understand the Bugaku or its meaning, but the intricate dance was quite wild, and the live music performed by a group of Shinto priests accompanying the dancing priest was delightful. I doubt that the Talmudic discussion between the schools of Hillel and Shammai, regarding how to dance before a bride, has reached this far. But wow, this was a big, stormy boogie! Then I took a walk through the sanctuaries on this most beautiful island, did some shopping and went back to the ferry, crossed the sea and the bus, from where I proceeded to my hotel.
A bit about the hotels: The one I stayed in in Tokyo was lovely. The rooms were divided between the sleeping area and the living area. Very comfortable beds, MUCH better than the ones I slept in, in China. The hotel in Hakone was also exceptional: very ornate, beautiful gardens, only full service, no buffet breakfast; very high end. And it had its own “onsen” (mineral hot spring bath, more on those later). My single room in the Kyoto hotel was as wide as my bed plus 100 cm. It is not a joke. I was once in Amersfoort, Holland, in such a place. So it was a novelty. Now it was disappointing! But that was made up by my hotel here in Hiroshima, which was very, very classy.
Late at night I went for a walk through the deserted streets of Hiroshima. I passed a Pachinko Palace (more details on that phenomenon will also come along with the onsen) where the players were busy with their hands working feverishly on the drawbar. I also stopped by a used car lot where the cutest small cars in the city of Mitsubishi were for sale. At 11:15 pm I called the front desk and requested a massage. So this 60-year-old woman comes to my room with what appeared to be a tool bag. It looked like Rosa Klebb. Remember it? She was James Bond’s sworn enemy in “From Russia with Love,” the one with the poisoned spike in her shoe. My masseuse didn’t speak English, but with lots of “Hai!” Yes, we managed to make ourselves understood. He entered the room, took off his shoes, got on the bed and proceeded to take off the duvet, placed a special cushion on the bed and told me in manual language to put on the yukata (robe) that hangs on the bed. wardrobe.
Anyway, once he had me in bed, he proceeded to give me one of those good old deep penetration Shiatsu massages. It was very painful at first, but as she continued and I relaxed, it got better. She left, and for the first time since I got here, I had a good, solid, uninterrupted 5 hours of sleep. Fantastic!