Ethereal Miyajima in Hiroshima

This Week in Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima – 5 February 2019

The latest edition of This Week in Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima – a review of the Maction Planet week that was and a look ahead to what’s coming up across Japan. Check out photos from our tours and read insights into our explorations as we get under the skin of the World’s Greatest Metropolis, and beyond. This week’s edition is hosted by Mac, our Founder and Lead Guide, who has been guiding along the Golden Route as part of a fully-booked start of 2019 for Maction Planet. This week: Ethereal Miyajima; New torii at Fushimi Inari; Sketching Nishi Hongan-ji; 90 years young and “Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi!” 

Featured image – Ethereal Miyajima: As part of my nine-day Pan-Japan tour with the Ginsburgs we headed to Miyajima.  It is spectacular whatever the weather, as you can see in my photo. It was raining for our day in Hiroshima but this added even more atmosphere to this mystical, spiritual island. Behind me was the primeval forest of Mount Misen, covered in mist. Ahead was the otorii of Itsukushima Shrine, first constructed in 1168 and built about 200 metres offshore. The floating torii is world-renowned as one of the Nihon sankei, the three great views of Japan. It was an honour to share my love for this incredible sight with the Ginsburg family. Thank you always to our guests for choosing Maction Planet.

New torii at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

New torii at Fushimi Inari: Fushimi Inari is the most popular attraction in Japan according to TripAdvisor, and it rightly should be up there as it is a magical place. I personally love seeing the less picturesque side of these sites; the side which shows you that, while the place may be very Instagrammable, this is living tradition going back hundreds of years. As we were hiking the full length of the Inariyama trail, we spotted workmen laying the foundations (literally) for a new torii at Fushimi Inari. You can see how deep the foundations are of these torii – one of the team is standing upright in the hole! This gate will join the 10,000 others, some of which have been in place for over 100 years.

Tree-drawing at Nishi Honganji in Kyoto

Sketching Nishi Hongan-ji: This National Treasure this one of the best surviving examples of architecture from the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo period. As were the beauty of the aesthetics, the courtyard is home to some magnificent trees. We stumbled across this incredible sketch of one of them by the temizuya!    

90 years young and still going strong

90 years young: Hiroko is 90 years old and makes the best yakisoba I have ever had. Her restaurant, which she has owned for 55 years, has been one of my go-to eateries in Kyoto for about a decade.  It was the Ginsburgs’ first meal in the city and everyone loved it, most of all because of the infectious energy of the proprietor. She was happy to take photos with everyone and gave me permission to post this one, but asked me that I did not mention the name of her restaurant. Why? Because she does not want a rush of people coming to her shop ‘just for the novelty’. These are the kind of special experiences that come through the respectful relationships we have built which allow us to showcase the best of Japan for our guests.

Sestusbun at Suitengu Shrine in Tokyo

“Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi!”: Back in Tokyo my guests and I, and the rest of the city, ushered in Spring with Setsubun. Martina and Richard loved the first stop, Sanno Hie Jinja, so much that I quickly shifted things around to allow us to attend a second Setsubun event at Suitengu, shown in here in this picture. Everyone’s arms are outstretched hoping to catch something during the mamemaki bean throwing where the bean throwers shout “Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi” (Demons out, fortunes in). If you want to see this in action, check out our videos from Sanno Hie Jinja and Suitengu and our blog post where we discuss Setsubun traditions!

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