I have a confession to make: as lovely as cherry blossoms are (and they are quite lovely), I prefer the vibrant splash of fall leaves more. My first two falls here, I somehow failed to see any of the spectacular autumn colors. So this year, I resolved to go somewhere for the express purpose of hunting down some fall foliage. I first considered Kyoto, but decided I didn’t want to deal with the hordes that would surely descend on the city for the same reason. So I settled on somewhere closer to home, Itskushima Island, better known to many as Miyajima.
I had visited Miyajima, located in Hiroshima prefecture, my first September, and fell head over heels for the beautiful setting, serene shrine, and even the hungry little deer. That time I spent three or four hours wandering around at ground level. This time I was determined to also get to the top of the island’s tallest mountain, Mt. Misen, so I didn’t linger too long at the shrine, though I snapped obligatory pics of the vermilion torii (shrine gate) at high tide,, and lingered to enjoy a ritual dance inside the shrine proper.
After just an hour or so, I headed inland to the rope-way up, and found what I’d been looking for: crimson, orange and blazing yellow leaves all over. The sheer beauty of it all was overwhelming. More beautiful to me than the vaunted view from the top of the mountain (which I did get to, albeit slowly). The leaves were probably just a bit past peak, so the ground was a multicolor carpet, and the sky above a canopy of brilliant hues. I could’ve wandered around for hours, taking pics, but a mountain was waiting. Two ropeways, lunch and a 1 kilometer walk down one peak and up another, I arrived at the top, definitely too tired to really appreciate what’s considered one of the three finest views in all of Japan.
So back down it was for more pictures, and a quick dinner of fried and grilled oysters before I had to head home and work. A short, but amazing trip. Next year, I will make it to Kyoto, crowds be damned!