When we were in Hiroshima, everybody kept asking us if we were going to Miyajima. We had not really thought about it, or heard of it, but after seeing a lot of posters around Hiroshima city with a shiny red gate out in the sea on them, we thought: “Ah, since we are already here, why not?!“, and jumped on board the ferry from Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima.
We had to and see for ourselves what all the fuss was about. 🙂
Miyajima is a small island outside of Hiroshima. It is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and one of Japans most visited tourist attractions.
Miyajima’s number one attraction is the bright red shrine gate of Itsukushima-jinja which is standing out in the sea. It is often photographed, and you will see pictures and posters of it all over Japan. The scene of the “floating shrine gate” is ranked as one of the three best views in Japan!
Another attraction that travel books don`t tell you about is all the tame deer! We met a couple of deer immediately after we had got off the ferry, almost like a welcome committee. 🙂
They are all over the place, even where you least expect them, and they are very cheeky!
They roam the streets following people and snatch anything out of the hands of unsuspecting tourists. It seems they especially love to eat paper, and maps in particular, so watch out. 🙂 ?
Itsukushima-jinja Shrine & Floating Gate
Of course, we had to go crazy and take a LOT of photos of the famous floating torii (gate) like everybody else. That`s why we were there, right? Well, here are some of the results:
The Shinto shrine Itsukushima-jinja that the gate belongs to, is pretty cool too!
It goes back as far as the late 6th century, but the present buildings were built in 1168.
The shrine is a pier-like construction, and the reason for this is that the island has a holy status. Commoners were not allowed to step on the island and had to approach the shrine through the floating gate out in the sea by boat.
We did however not get to see it at high tide, which was at 6 p.m. and the last boat back to Hiroshima Peace Park was 5:30 p.m. But it was still worth the trip!
The contrast of the blue sea, the green hills, and the vivid red shrine are beautiful!
There are several temples, pavilions, and pagodas on the island, one is even located on a hill to which one can walk or take a ropeway half way up. Unfortunately, we did not have time to do this hike.
We did, however, walk to the Senjo-kaku pavilion which overlooks a colorful five-story Pagoda from 1407:
Miyajima also has a nice and cozy center with narrow streets with cafes, restaurants and small shops.
Here you can buy everything from souvenirs, handicraft, cookies, and ice-cream.
The main thing here when it comes to food is dumplings, ice-cream (shaved ice with some kind of syrup on), oyster and Okonomiyaki (pancake). We tried them all, except the oyster. 🙂
We had a nice afternoon out on the Miyajima Island and enjoyed wandering the streets and parks among the cheeky deer. But of course, the highlight was the floating gate which was pretty cool even though we did not get to see it at high tide.
One can easily fill more than an afternoon on Miyajima island with hikes, museums, kayaking, and more temples and shrines. It might be well worth it to spend a night on the island, in one of the hotels there. Then you will be able to enjoy the evening quiet after all the day trippers have left.
If you have more time, you can also do the hike up to Miyajima`s highest Mountain Misen (530 m, 4 hours hike) where there are a temple and a flame that has been burning for 1200 years. We would love to do that hike! There is also the possibility to chicken out and take the ropeway up, then you only have to walk for about 20 min. Well, next time. 🙂
If you want a convenient way to see Miyajima Island and Hiroshima and are short of time, join the popular “Explore Miyajima & Hiroshima In A Full Day Tour”. On this tour, you get a knowledgeable English speaking guide showing you the highlights of Miyajima and Hiroshima in one day and can tell you the dramatic history of this part of Japan.
How To Get To Miyajima Island
We took the ferry from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (45 min each way, 3600 JPY = 34 us$).
There are also other ferries, with departure from outside of Hiroshima city. One of these ferries are operated by JR, so if you have a JR pass you can take it for free. In order to get to the ferry terminal, take the train (JR San-yo line) to Miyajima-guchi Station (halfway between Hiroshima and Iwakuni) (27 min). You can also take the tram 2 from Hiroshima Station to the ferry terminal (70 min, 270 JPY). The ferry ride from here takes about 10 minutes to Miyajima Island.
How Much Does It Cost To Visit Miyajima Island
The ferry cost 2000 JPY (19 us$) one-way per person and 1600 JPY (15 us$) for the return trip.
Admission to the shrine Itsukushima-jinja: 300 JPY (3 us$)
Where To Stay At Miyajima Island
We stayed at the Via Inn Hotel Hiroshima in Hiroshima City. The hotel was OK for one night, very central, but small room and a bit old. It was the cheapest we could find in Hiroshima, 63 us$ per night for two people.
If you want to stay on Miyajima Island, there are several nice hotels to choose from.
⇒ Check out our article about the Hiroshima Peace Ceremony too
⇒ Japan has a lot of great sights and highlights, like Miyajima Island. Read our 2-week Japan Itinerary to find what other places you should visit on your Japan trip
We used the Lonely Planet`s Japan travel guide on our trip. You can get that and other great books by clicking on the pictures below:
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