Funky Monkeys

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
Trip End Mar 15, 2007

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Where I stayed
Hattoji International villa

Flag of Japan  ,
Thursday, March 30, 2006

The weather appeared a bit better today so I left my bags at reception after checking out and set off for Miyajima island out in the inland sea just south of Hiroshima. On arriving at the ferry terminal for the island I was offered some squid snacks to try, not bad actually but maybe not the best thing to have for breakfast. The ferry ride over to the island took only 10 minutes and I had read about the deer which roam freely on the island and was soon surrounded by them on exiting the ferry terminal but not nearly as much as those that had food on hand.

My main reason for visiting the island besides the famous wooden torri standing in the bay, even though it is often just sitting in mud at low tide, was to climb Mount Misen the island's highest mountain. There is a perfectly good cable car taken visitors to the top but for some reason I decided to hike the 530 meters to the top on foot.

About half way up I began to wonder why I didn't just take the cable car as although it was not too steep it was almost 2.5km of steps which slowly began to drain what little energy I had left in my legs which even a squidy snack could not re-energize. There were signs dotted along the way saying not to eat food due to the monkeys and deer in the area so I was both tired and hungry on reaching the summit but the view from the top made up for it and I was certainly glad I did it on foot.

You could see for miles and miles from the top and I felt pretty smug overtaking many day trippers huffing and puffing after only walking the last 10 minutes from the cable car station to the summit, before almost collapsing myself once out of sight. I walked over to the ropeway station to see the view from that side but also to see the monkeys that hang around it. I'm not sure what kind of monkeys they were but they were certainly a mixture of lazy and hyperactive with some sprawled out in the sun on the station roof while others chased each other around almost constantly.

So instead of taking the easy route back down I set off back down the mountain on foot which thankfully took half the time of the ascent and got the first ferry back across to the mainland before the deer could investigate the chocolate chip bread snacks I had stashed in my pockets.

Taking the shinkansn to Okayama I looked over the directions to get to where I was staying tonight, Hattoji International villa just north of Okayama. The info on the villa which they had faxed me the day before listed the last bus leaving Yoshinaga station at 6:20pm but only between April and September but the timetable was apparently taken from 2004 so I did not take too much heed of it.

I arrived at Yoshinaga station to be met by well very little actually, the alarm bells started sounding in my head when the ticket office at the station, if it could even be called that, was closed and the only vehicle in the car park was a bike.

Asking the store owner of the only shop in the vicinity about the bus to Yoshinaga he simply pointed at a taxi near by, I started to think that the bus timetable was not as out of date as I had thought. Hanging around the station I though about hiking it to Hattoji after the climb of Mount Misen how difficult could it be? At this point the taxi diver emerged and asked where I was going so I told him and he informed me it was 20km, so much for hiking as it was getting dark. He told me the fare to get there was 4000 Yen but it looked like I had little choice so I took his offer and arrived at the villa just 10 yen short of a 4000 yen fare, ouch.

The villa was quite high up in the hills and as such was pretty cold. There was only one other guest there at the time, Michael from Canberra, and the caretaker who showed us the ins and out of the place explaining everything without a hint of English so I just nodded and hoped that she was not telling us anything too crucial.

The villa had a heated table thingy which you could sit with your legs under and keep at least half your body warm although the fire we had going in the small fire place in the centre of the room was slowly begin to heat up. A little later Sandjay arrived with his family who was also staying there and soon opened up a bottle of red wine which we happily drank while huddled around (and under) the table.
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