The shrine area on Miyajima can get pretty busy during the day, but by staying at the Iwaso one can experience it after nightfall when it quietens down and the stone lanterns are lit. The Iwaso was the first accommodation to open on the island at the end of the 19th century, and it is the closest to the shrine. The original charming wooden building remains, with a new building and some romantic cottages added since then. Within, it is a haven of calm where one can wander from hot spring bath to shrine viewpoint in a 'yukata' (evening gown). Sumptuous multi-course 'kaiseki' traditional dinners are served in the privacy of the room, some with the backdrop of a decorated folding screen. Thick futons are then laid out on the tatami mats for a surprisingly comfortable sleep. We have visited dozens of traditional inns and the Iwaso ranks in our top three for its authenticity and level of service.
To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.Bill Bryson