Last time, on Stefanie What, our heroes had attempted a night bus trip with the mixed results of having an entire day to explore Hiroshima, but struggling with the urge to sleep throughout said day. We slept very well in that hotel room, which is good, because our next plan was to hit up Miyajima Island.
Upon waking in the morning, we opted to take the tram line from where we were staying all the way to Miyajimaguchi Station. The ticket for the tram cost all of 260 yen one-way, which we thought was a far better deal than the 400+ ticket for the train… even though the latter was faster. (First bullet trains, now train lines…)
The ferry is similarly a reasonable price to ride, 180 one-way. There were boats advertised as well, but as it was all of a 10 minute ride we weren’t too fussed about how fancy our ride was. We had a smooth trip from Hiroshima out to the island, and began exploring.
Of course, what’s a trip to Hiroshima without visiting Itsukushima Shrine? You know which place I’m talking about. The one with the torii gate in the water which absolutely everyone must get a perfect shot of. I was doomed from the start, because despite having caught up on my sleep, I still had to contend with Mother Nature giving us rainy weather that day. Thanks, June in Japan.
The shrine itself was lovely, with wooden walkways wrapped around each other in a way that led you all the way around it without bumping into other people. You did, however, have to deal with the deer, who I daresay were even nosier than the ones in Nara Park!
Avoiding the worst of the snack-seeking deer, we took our time in the shrine, but curiosity soon compelled us to climb Mount Misen. The path was very easy to find, and easier still to climb. Deer occasionally peeked out at us from under the shrubbery, but we didn’t encounter any other creatures on our walk up. Despite the warm summer air, it was a pleasant hike and we were left hungry after the fact.
“Hey, what time does our bus leave?” my friend asked, as we started back down.
“Four,” I said casually, “so as long as we get back on the mainland by, like, 2, we should be okay.”
Famous last words.
We grabbed some snacks by the port while waiting for the ferry (some momiji manju, or, maple leaf-shaped Japanese sweets), then boarded. Everything seemed to be on time.
But then we missed the tram we were planning to take back.
“It’s fine, the next one’s in like, ten minutes,” I said to my friend. “We’ve got loads of time to get back.”
But something was making the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and I found myself checking the time again and again, even after we’d boarded the next tram back to the main train station.
The stops were… longer, than I remembered them being in the morning. When we’d gotten halfway back, I checked the time, and my heart started beating faster; we had an hour before our bus would leave, but at the rate we were going we were going to be arriving maybe ten minutes before the bus departure.
“Are we okay?” my friend asked, likely noting the growing panic on my face.
“Fine,” I squeaked, shoving the tram map back into my backpack. “Hey so uh, we’re cool with buying snacks at the first stop the bus makes, right? Because we won’t have time to get any before getting on the bus.”
My friend narrowed her eyes, but nodded in agreement.
The tram slowly, torturously, continued its’ way back, and the clock inched closer and closer to departure time. We stopped for an extra two minutes at one stop, making me writhe in panic. What to do? Call the bus company? Arrange for a hotel for the night? Ride the bullet train back?!
We finally arrived, seven minutes prior to departure.
My friend and I zipped off the tram and booked it, our backpacks bouncing on our backs as we raced through the station toward the bus stop. Dodging people left and right, I gave a longing look toward a convenience store before shaking it off and putting on a new burst of speed.
We were the last people to board our bus. The driver saw us, red-faced, gasping for breath like fish, and just shook his head before allowing us on. We dragged ourselves in to our seats, and collapsed.
“Next time,” my friend panted, “we are getting to the bus stop an hour ahead of time.”
We were so worn out we actually napped for the first couple hours back to Kyoto; however, I’m happy to say that the rest of the ride home was much calmer than our adventures earlier in the day.
Would I do Hiroshima the same way again? Possibly–having almost two full days to see everything gave us enough time to do what we wanted. However, it was a bit rushed, so I would personally add an extra day in there somewhere. The bus was perfectly fine, but for those on a time crunch, the bullet train would be a far better choice if you can swing the price.
Have you ever had harrowing, close calls like we did with the bus? Let me know!