We're back with another addition to Japlanning's day trip series with everything to do in Miyajima from Devon!
Part of the Seto Island Sea National Park and boasting a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Miyajima is a small island located about an hour from Hiroshima, the perfect distance for a wonderful day trip. A divine island where “God dwells”, its’ official name is Itsukushima. However, due to the giant Torii Gate and numerous shrines, it is more commonly known as Miyajima or “shrine island”. Deer, monkeys and raccoon dogs roam the island, and tend to be friendly but keep your distance. They can nab food and bits of paper out of bags and backpacks. Much like in Nara, refrain from feeding them unless you don’t value your fingers.
Although you can do most activities on the island in one day, if you’ve got some extra spending money take advantage of the many ryokans on the island and spend the night in a traditional Japanese inn.
Here is a snapshot of what to do:
Constructed in 593, this is the shrine that makes give Miyajima island its name. It is famous for its floating Torii Gate which you pass on the ferry to the island. Much like the gate, the shrine is built over water and during high tide appears as if it is floating. Check the tide schedule at the Hiroshima tourist office before visiting: the floating effect is cool, but if visiting during low tide you can walk out to the torii gate for a better view.
The complex includes the East Corridor, The Marodo Shrine, Haraiden (Purification Hall), and the Sori-Bashi (Arched bridge) among many other buildings. Several festivals are held during the year in which cultural performances of Noh or Bunraku take place. The number one reason to spend the night on Miyajima: the shrine is illuminated at night. Some ryokan also offer 30 minute boat tours to view the shrine at night.
For a few more hundred ¥, pick up a combo ticket and check out the Treasure Hall next door, featuring traditional Miyajima artifacts.
The Istukushima shrine and Treasure Hall are a 10 minute walk from the ferry pier.
Shrine: Adults ¥300, High School Students ¥200, School Children ¥100, under 6 free
Treasure Hall: Adults ¥300, High School Students ¥200, School Children ¥100, under 6 free
Combo: Adult ¥500, High School Students ¥300, School Children ¥150, under 6 free
Shrine Opening Times:
Jan 6 – Feb 28 6:30-17:30
Mar 1 – Oct 14 6:30-18:00
Oct 15-Nov 30 6:30-17:30
Dec 1-Dec 31 6:30-17:00
Closed Jan 1-Jan 5
30 minutes after sunset to 23:00
Treasure Hall Opening Times:
08:00-17:00 All year
Located at the base of Mount Misen, this temple is where the practice of Buddhism first began on Miyajima. Head up the steps to the Kannon-do Hall, 88 Temple Pilgrimage, and the Dai-hannyakyo Sutra where you can spin the metal wheels for a blessing. From here, visitors can follow the hiking trail to the summit of Mount Misen.
Beautiful any season, Miyajima features many walking paths from a casual stroll to a vigorous hike. Head to Miyajima in the autumn and into Momijidani (“Maple Valley”) for stunning views of the annual leaf change. For the more adventurous, take a 2 hour trek up Mount Misen on one of three paths, Momijidani (quite steep!), Omoto (steep!) or Daisho-in (best views, easiest) for breathtaking views and native wildlife. Have your camera ready, at Shishi-iwa Observatory on a clear day you’ll be able to see as far as Hiroshima.
For those not wanting to take the hike but still wanting the views, there is the Miyajima Ropeway to the Shishi-iwa Observatory. Just a note, it only takes you as far as the Shishi-iwa Observatory not Mount Misen peak. There is a 30 minute walk from the ropeway to the summit and can be steep in areas. The ropeway does offer both one way and round trip tickets, so for the best way to experience Mount Misen, book a one way ticket.
From Shishi-iwa Observatory, continue on to the summit to see the Misen Hondo (Misen Main Hall) and Kiezu-no-Reikado (Hall of the Eternal Spiritual Flame). This flame was used to light the Flame of Peace in Hiroshima’s Peace Park. It’s also designated as a sanctuary for lovers.
The ropeway is a 10 minute walk from Itsukushima Shrine, 20 minutes from the ferry pier. Take the 3 minute free shuttle bus from the Momijidani Park Entrance to the Momijidani Ropeway Station.
Round Trip: Adults ¥1800, Children ¥900
One Way: Adults¥1000, Children ¥500
Jun : Jul 9:00-17:00
Despite its size Miyajima has a rather impressive number of souvenir shops. Pick up a Shakushi (rice scoop) and live your dreams by having your photo by “O-Shakushi” the world’s largest rice scoop.
Hello Kitty fan? She’s even got her own Miyajima themed shop on the island.
Omotesando is a 10 minute walk from the ferry pier
Momiji Manju is a must. These delightful little cakes are in the shape of a maple leaf and filled with sweet red bean, custard cream, matcha, chocolate and other varieties. Pro Tip: keep the Momiji Manju as souvenirs and save your appetite for the Age Momiji; deep fried Momiji Manju and ONLY available on Miyajima Island. Crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. Yum!
For the crafty: spend an hour at the Miyajima Traditional Handicrafts Hall to make your VERY OWN Shakushi or Momiji Manju. You’ll need a group of 5 or more to participate and must make phone reservations up to one year but at least 5 days in advance.
Shakushi Making ¥350
Momiji Manju Making: ¥735
Operating times: 09:00-17:00
Closed Mondays, days following National holidays and December 29 – January 3
Miyajima Island is small enough that walking to the attractions isn’t an issue. There are few taxis but plan on walking for the most part.
The Miyajima free pass (¥2000) will give you unlimited travel on the Misen ropeway, the ferry and Hiroshima street cars for two days. This can be purchased beforehand at the Hiroshima tourist office.
Miyajima is an island so you’ll need to take a ferry to get there. The most economical and fastest way to do so is to use the Japan Rail Pass which is valid on the JR lines.
Train or Tram to the Ferry:
From JR Hiroshima station, take the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station (25 minutes) or the tram line #2 from central Hiroshima bound for Miyajimaguchi (60 minutes).
From Miyajimaguchi Station
Walk to the ferry pier.
Cost for the ferry is¥170 each way and can take either the JR Ferry (accepts Japan Rail Pass) or the Matsudai.
After a 10 minute ferry ride, you’ll arrive at Miyajima Pier.
Hiroshima Peace Park: 55 minutes ¥1900 one way, ¥3400 round trip.
Hiroshima Port: 30 minutes ¥1800 one way
Miyajima is a perfect day trip from Hiroshima, Osaka or even Kyoto. With the amazing Shinkansen network, you can experience this beautiful island and take in another UNESCO world heritage site while in Japan!
Have you ever been to Miyajima? What was your favourite part?
Tell us in the comments section below!