A to Wa of Japan: Week 33

It’s time for A to Wa of Japan again! Last week’s post was about things beginning with  ま (ma) and we looked at Mamachari ( ママチャリ).This week we are looking at things beginning with み (mi). A big thank you to those who joined in with suggestions this week:

UK Seikatsu suggested Mishima Yukiko (三島由紀夫 / an author), Miura-hanto (三浦半島 / a peninsula located in Kanagawa-ken), mike-neko (三毛猫 / calico cat), miso (味噌 / a thick paste made from fermented soybeans and barley or rice malt), and Mifune Toshiro (三船敏郎 / an actor); Japan Australia suggested Miyajima (宮島 / another name for the Japanese island Itsukushima), Mihama (美浜 / a town in Fukui), Mito (水戸 / the capital of Ibaraki Prefecture), and Miyazaki Hayao (宮崎 駿 / film director, animator, and manga artist); Jay Dee suggested Mitaka (三鷹 / a city in Tokyo), Mikasa (三笠 / an old warship that’s open for tours in Yokosuka), Minato Mirai 21 (みなとみらい21 / an urban development in Yokohama), miko (巫女 / Shinto priestesses), Miwa Akihiro (美輪 明宏 / a singer and drag queen), Mitsukoshi (株式会社三越 / department store); and Paul suggested miso, Mizoguchi Kenji (溝口 健二 / a classic film director), Miike Takeshi (三池 崇史 / a modern film director), Miyabe Miyuki (宮部 みゆき / a novelist), and Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵 / legendary swordsman and ronin).

There were some really interesting suggestions this week, and in the end I decided to write about…

Miyajima (宮島)

Miyajima is a destination on many people’s lists of places to visit in Japan, and is popular because of its magical ‘floating torii’ – a red shrine gate that appears to float when the tide comes in. Images like the one below are used in just about every guide-book for Japan, making it one of the most popular views in the country.

Itsukushima Shrine ©Akimasa Yuasa/©JNTO

Itsukushima Shrine ©Akimasa Yuasa/©JNTO

Actually, Miyajima is the popular name for Itsukushima (厳島). Whilst Itsukushima is the real name of the island, the island has become known as Miyajima, which means ‘shrine island’ because of Itsukushima Shrine which is the main attraction on the island.

Miyajima is a very popular tourist destination, and I made sure to visit there on my very first trip to Japan in 2006. I only visited the island as an afternoon trip from Hiroshima, but would love to go back there and perhaps stay over night in a ryokan.

Floating Torii

Floating torii, 2006

Itsukushima Shrine, 2006

Itsukushima Shrine, 2006

As I said, the shrine is the main attraction, but that’s not all Miyajima has to offer. The other part of the island worth visiting is Mount Misen (弥山). You can take a ropeway up the mountain, which is home to wild monkeys and boasts beautiful views.

View from ropeway

Ropeway, 2006

The island has quite a relaxed atmosphere and, although it is quite touristy it’s not as busy and chaotic as the big cities in Japan. It makes a great day trip from Hiroshima, or a place to stop for a night or two of peace and quiet.


Next week we’ll start with む (mu), so please leave a comment below suggesting a topic for things beginning with む. Topics can be anything, as long as they are connected to Japan – food, places, people, characters, whatever you want to hear about! Just remember that the words you suggest must be Japanese words.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions!  (*^_^)v

12 thoughts on “A to Wa of Japan: Week 33

  1. Mu. Mu isn’t so easy.

    Musashi – an old province that is now Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Saitama (musashi is also 634, the height of Tokyo Skytree).
    Mushi – bugs!

    Wow, mu is difficult.


  2. Thanks for using my suggestion this week. Miyajima is definitely a must see in Japan and I highly recommend a stay over night in a traditional Japanese style ryokan. A few suggestions for next week are:

    Murakami Haruki (best selling Japanese writer)
    Mugi-cha (Roasted barley tea ~ popular in summer)
    Muji (Japanese retail company)


  3. Like Nara Park,on Miyajima there are plenty of semi-tame deer to entertain &/or annoy you as well!

    For む can I suggest:

    Murakami Ryu – the other (better) “Murakami” novelist (Coin Locker Babies is highly recommended), screenwriter, & film director

    Murakami Takeshi – another Murakami, a modern “pop” artist.

    Murasaki Shikibu – writer of The Tale of Genji


    • Thanks for your ‘mu’ suggestions, Paul! I’m afraid I can’t agree about Ryu Murakami – I’ve read many of his books and disliked them all. (>_<) Just my opinion though of course! 🙂


  4. I’ve been to Miyajima a few times. I really like it there.
    Best times are during the cherry blossom and autumn color seasons. It’s so beautiful then! 🙂

    Suggestions for next time:
    Mukade (centipede)


  5. When I went to Miyajima last year, they were in the process of reconstructing the floating torii. As a result there was scaffolding all over it. You’re so lucky you got to see it before the reconstruction. Great post!


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