The Eternal Hall of Fire. Alight for over 1,200 years.

30.06.17 | Japan, Sabbatical, Travel

A short article extracted from “Revolutions” is featured in JapanTravel. Read it below.

2014 03 02 Miyajima Mount Misan #06

Reading time: 2 minutes.

The Eternal Hall of Fire. Alight for over 1,200 years.

Miyajima, Japan: Mount Misen.

The pathway climbs further up the mountain to the Mount Misen Ropeway. The cable car on the first section climbs steeply above the bay with glorious views back to the mainland as far as Hiroshima. At the interchange station, two engineers are fixing one of only two cars running up to the summit. It does not bode well, but nevertheless ten of us take the only operational car to the top. This section has wonderful views of the other side of Miyajima. The islands of the Inland Sea jut out of the water and appear to hover mystically between the water and the clouds.

At the terminus, Shishiwa Station, there’s a steep one kilometre walk uphill to the summit of Mount Misen. Two thirds of the way, I stop at a group of wooden buildings. At this resting stop is the Misen Hondo Main Hall and Shinkido Hall (Eternal Fire Hall). Here, in 806, Kobo Daishi undertook ascetic practice for one hundred days on the mountain. The fire lit here has supposedly been lit for over 1,200 years and it was used to light the eternal flame in Hiroshima Peace Park.

At the summit, I duck under a rock arch before reaching a modern observatory deck. The views are stunning around the whole island, even though the sun is now behind the clouds. I’ve enjoyed the climb and so many people have said ‘konnichiwa’ to me and quite often I’ve been stopped to be asked where I was from. I’ve only seen one or two other Westerners. There are more people here on the mountain top than down in the temples, yet only twenty or so are at the top, picnicking and enjoying the magnificent view.

This short article is an adapted excerpt from my book “Revolutions” and is featured in Japan Travel. It can also be read on the Japan Travel site here.

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