Day 1: Arrival and Miyajima

I woke up early to pick up Mom and Dad from Narita.  I was running a little late and they landed early so we initially missed each other.  Mom, being the savvy traveller she is, had hurried to the JR pass line to turn in their vouchers for their coveted JR pass.  We met up and caught the Narita Express they had reservations for so no time was lost by our initial missed connection.

That day, we travelled a lot because we were on our way to Miyajima!  That’s quite a trip, but we were pretty excited to stay in a ryokan, the Miyajima Grand Hotel Arimoto.  It was a beautiful, serene place and we stayed in one of the larger rooms with a nice-sized tatami room.  Before dinner, we walked down to the shore to admire the floating torii gate at sunset.  The gate is part of the Itsukushima shrine, a Shinto shrine on the sacred island.  The shrine floats over water, originally designed to prevent  ordinary people from stepping on the pure land.  Now that rule is much more relaxed since many tourists make their way over but even still, there are no hospitals or cemeteries on the island.
Entrance to the hotel

We returned to the hotel and I went down for a quick hot tub dip.  I showered off, as one should, and hopped in the tub.  There was one indoor and two small outdoor tubes.  I liked the upper outdoor one since it was a small, round wooden tub in a beautiful garden setting and it was the deepest of the three.  It was very hot and it was a good thing my bath time was short!

Dinner was an amazing, multi-course kaiseki meal.  The dress code was yakata robes and as you can see, we all complied!  We went down to the dining room and our places were already set with several amuse-boche size bites of food, including a small glass of liqueur.   After the small dishes, they brought hot pots over and lit the fire.  We had had the choice of oyster and eel and we all went with oyster.  It was incredibly good.  The broth was so savory and delicious and the oysters were huge.  This was one of my favorite dishes of the night.  
We also had a huge sashimi tray brought over with snapper, salmon, little fishies, conch and a big fish head which we left alone. Next, we had grilled oysters that were awesome.  We had a egg custard soup, which I normally love but didn’t quite enjoy as much there.  There was a small broth-y soup (dashi?) that was tasty.  Mom and Dad got a beef plate next while I had fried fish.  This dish was incredibly small which was a good thing since there were so many courses.  Next, mixed rice was brought to the table.  It was good but we ate very little since we were starting to get pretty full.  We ended with a fruit cocktail dessert that was good but nothing exceptional.  My top dishes of the night were the grilled oysters, hot pot and the super-fresh sashimi.  
We rolled ourselves upstairs (hard to do, ha ha) and our futons were laid out.  We all went to bed and slept well.  The next day, we had plans to see more of the Itsukushima shrine and other temples of the island.  Oyasuminasai!

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