Welcome to the captivating island of Miyajima, a jewel nestled in the Seto Inland Sea, often referred to as the ‘Island of the Gods’. Revered for its centuries-old Shinto shrines, scenic beauty, and iconic floating torii gate, Miyajima beckons travelers with its blend of spiritual tranquility and natural splendor. This comprehensive guide will dive deep into the myriad attractions, experiences, and cultural gems that await you on this enchanted island.
Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima, is situated off the coast of Hiroshima in the southwestern part of Japan. The island, predominantly mountainous, sprawls over 30 square kilometers, with Mount Misen, its highest peak, offering panoramic views of the shimmering Seto Inland Sea. Lush forests cover much of the island’s landscape, fostering a diverse ecosystem that is home to various species of flora and fauna.
The island’s history is steeped in Shinto beliefs, which dictate that the whole island is sacred. This is evidenced by the fact that traditionally, neither births nor deaths were allowed to take place on Miyajima, in order to maintain its purity. The famed Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has stood here since the 6th century, with its iconic “floating” torii gate being a subject of fascination and reverence for countless generations.
- Itsukushima Shrine: Built over the sea, this architectural marvel appears to float during high tide. Its vermilion pillars contrast brilliantly against the azure backdrop of the sea and sky, offering a sight that is both mesmerizing and spiritual.
- Floating Torii Gate: Acting as the gateway to Itsukushima Shrine, this massive wooden structure is arguably Japan’s most iconic view. During low tide, visitors can walk up to the gate, but during high tide, it appears to float majestically on the water’s surface.
- Mount Misen: Hiking up Mount Misen rewards travelers with breathtaking vistas of the Seto Inland Sea and its many islands. A ropeway also offers a less strenuous ascent. The mountain is also home to several ancient temples and the eternal flame, which is said to have been burning for over 1,200 years.
- Daisho-in Temple: Nestled at the base of Mount Misen, this historic temple is a significant site for Buddhist worship. Its intricately designed halls, statues, and a thousand spinning metal wheels make it a meditative retreat.
- Miyajima’s Deer: The island is inhabited by friendly wild deer that roam freely. Believed to be messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion, they add a whimsical charm to the island’s ambiance.
Miyajima is also a haven for food lovers. Don’t miss out on tasting local delicacies like Momiji Manju (maple leaf-shaped cakes filled with sweet fillings) and the succulent oysters for which the region is famed.
Each season paints Miyajima in different hues. The cherry blossoms in spring, verdant landscapes in summer, vivid autumn foliage, and the serene snowscapes in winter – every phase offers a unique experience.
Miyajima is easily accessible via a short ferry ride from Miyajimaguchi, which in turn is a short train ride from Hiroshima. The ferry trip offers a beautiful introduction to the island’s scenic beauty.
Miyajima is not just an island; it’s a timeless voyage through history, nature, and spirituality. Whether you are a history buff, a nature lover, or a seeker of spiritual solace, Miyajima promises an experience that will linger in your memories long after your visit. Embark on this journey, and let the ‘Island of the Gods’ enchant your soul.
Miyajima City Guide: A Brief History Of Miyajima, Japan
Miyajima, often referred to as Itsukushima, is an island steeped in history, legend, and spiritual significance. For visitors keen to understand its rich past, a detailed exploration reveals a tapestry of events, culture, and religious beliefs that have shaped the island over centuries. Let’s embark on a journey through time and uncover the myriad layers of Miyajima’s history.
The earliest traces of human activity on Miyajima date back to the Jomon period (circa 14,000–300 BCE). Archaeological excavations have unearthed pottery fragments and other artifacts that point to human settlements during this time.
The island’s association with spirituality can be traced back to ancient times. Miyajima has long been considered a sacred place in the Shinto religion. Ancient texts and legends suggest that the island was worshipped as a deity even before the establishment of the Itsukushima Shrine. The name ‘Itsukushima’ itself translates to “island of worship.”
Establishment of Itsukushima Shrine
While the exact origins of the Itsukushima Shrine remain shrouded in mystery, historical records indicate its presence from the 6th century. The shrine we see today owes its grandeur to Taira no Kiyomori, one of Japan’s most powerful warlords during the Heian period. In the 12th century, Kiyomori chose Miyajima as the seat of his clan’s family shrine and commissioned the construction of the present-day shrine complex. His vision was to create a shrine that merges with the sea, hence the appearance of it “floating” during high tide.
Era of Buddhist Influence
While Miyajima’s roots are deeply embedded in Shintoism, the island also witnessed the spread of Buddhism. The construction of Daisho-in Temple in the 9th century by the revered monk Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism in Japan, marks this phase. This temple, with its sprawling grounds, intricate statues, and sacred halls, became a significant site for Buddhist worship and remains so today.
Tales of the Floating Torii Gate
The iconic torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine is not just a photogenic marvel but also a symbol of the island’s spiritual significance. Traditionally, since the whole island was deemed sacred, ordinary folks were not allowed to set foot on it. The gate, positioned in the sea, marked the boundary between the sacred and the profane. Pilgrims would approach the shrine by boat, passing through the torii gate.
Battles and Conflicts
Though primarily known for its spiritual and scenic beauty, Miyajima has also witnessed its share of conflict. During the 16th century, the island became embroiled in the struggles between powerful warlords. The battles led to considerable damage to the shrine, which was subsequently rebuilt.
Over the centuries, as religious pilgrimage flourished, the island started witnessing an influx of visitors. What began as a religious journey soon expanded to encompass appreciation for the island’s natural beauty. The Meiji period, in particular, marked a significant transformation, with increased connectivity and infrastructure developments turning Miyajima into a popular tourist destination.
In 1996, recognizing its cultural, historical, and architectural significance, UNESCO designated the Itsukushima Shrine as a World Heritage Site. Today, while modern amenities cater to visitors, efforts are taken to preserve the island’s natural and historical integrity.
Miyajima is an embodiment of Japan’s deep-rooted respect for nature, spirituality, and history. As you stroll along its ancient pathways, hike up Mount Misen, or marvel at the floating torii gate, remember that you’re treading on ground that has been considered sacred for centuries. The island is not just a beautiful retreat but also a living testament to Japan’s enduring legacy and traditions. So, when you visit, you’re not just witnessing scenic vistas but also stepping into pages of a rich historical narrative.
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Top 44 Things To Do in Miyajima, Japan For Visitors
Miyajima, a tranquil and historically significant island, offers visitors an expansive array of activities, from spiritual pursuits to nature treks. Here’s an extensive list of 44 things to do that encompass the essence of this magnificent destination:
1. Itsukushima Shrine: Witness the iconic floating shrine, especially stunning during high tide, when it appears to be hovering on the sea.
2. Floating Torii Gate: Marvel at this massive wooden structure, particularly mesmerizing during sunset and sunrise.
3. Mount Misen Hike: Trek up the mountain, enjoying the scenic views and varied flora and fauna.
4. Mount Misen Ropeway: For a less strenuous ascent, take the ropeway up to the observatory and enjoy panoramic views.
5. Daisho-in Temple: Experience tranquility at this ancient Buddhist temple, home to numerous spinning prayer wheels and serene statues.
6. Miyajima History and Folk Museum: Immerse yourself in the island’s rich history and cultural heritage.
7. Senjokaku (Hall of a Thousand Tatami Mats): This large wooden pavilion offers a peek into the island’s architectural brilliance.
8. Treasure Hall: Located near Itsukushima Shrine, it showcases religious artifacts and historical relics.
9. Momijidani Park: Especially beautiful during autumn, this park is a spectacle of vivid red maple leaves.
10. Miyajima Aquarium: A modern facility home to marine life from the Seto Inland Sea and other global locations.
11. Omotesando Street: Shop and dine at this bustling street filled with souvenir shops, eateries, and local artisans.
12. Miyajima Deer: Engage with the friendly wild deer, considered in Shinto to be messengers of the gods.
13. Goju-no-to (Five-storied Pagoda): A stunning 27.6-meter-high pagoda offering a blend of Japanese and Chinese architectural styles.
14. Miyajima Water Fireworks Display: Witness this spectacle during summer, where the night sky is illuminated with colorful fireworks.
15. Kayaking: Paddle around the island, getting a unique perspective of the torii gate and surrounding landscapes.
16. Oyster Tasting: Miyajima is famed for its delicious oysters. Relish them at local eateries.
17. Momiji Manju Making: Learn to make this local delicacy – a sweet bun shaped like a maple leaf.
18. Beach Activities: Visit Tsutsumigaura Natural Park for a beach day and enjoy swimming in the sea.
19. Traditional Ryokans: Stay in a traditional Japanese inn for an authentic experience.
20. Shukkeien Garden: Though located in nearby Hiroshima, this historic garden is worth a visit for its stunning beauty.
21. Misenhondo Hall: Visit this sacred spot on Mount Misen, a place of worship and reflection.
22. Tahoto Pagoda: An elegant two-story pagoda near the Daisho-in temple.
23. Botanical Walk: Explore the island’s rich flora, including its camellias, azaleas, and cherry blossoms.
24. Rituals at Itsukushima Shrine: Participate or observe traditional Shinto rituals and ceremonies.
25. O-torii Gate at Low Tide: Walk up to the gate during low tide, touch its pillars, and marvel at its construction.
26. Island Cycling: Rent a bike and explore the island’s scenic pathways.
27. Onsen Experience: Relax in a traditional Japanese hot spring, some with views of the Seto Inland Sea.
28. Anko (sweet red bean paste) Sampling: Taste this Japanese delicacy in various forms and desserts.
29. Hiking Daisho-in Course: A 2.5-kilometer trail that takes you through forests and offers magnificent views.
30. Try Kaki no Ha Sushi: Sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves, a regional specialty.
31. Toyokuni Shrine: Visit this shrine dedicated to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a key figure in Japanese history.
32. Iwaso Ryokan: Experience traditional Japanese hospitality in one of Miyajima’s oldest ryokans.
33. Miyajima Traditional Crafts Center: Learn about the island’s artisanal traditions, from woodworks to fabric dyeing.
34. Night Walk: Experience the island’s serenity during nighttime, with illuminated pathways and shrines.
35. Mitarai Pond: A serene spot near Itsukushima Shrine, believed to hold purifying powers.
36. Reikado Hall: On Mount Misen, it houses the eternal flame said to have been burning for over 1,200 years.
37. Take a Boat Ride: Explore the island’s shoreline, getting close to the floating torii.
38. Local Breweries: Sample sake or craft beers from local Miyajima breweries.
39. Attend Local Festivals: Depending on the season, witness traditional festivities, dances, and rituals.
40. Nishi Munakata Shrine: A lesser-known but equally serene shrine, surrounded by lush nature.
41. Kiyomori Festival: Attend this March festival celebrating Taira no Kiyomori’s contributions to Miyajima.
42. Beachcombing: During low tide, explore the coastline for interesting shells and sea creatures.
43. Omoto Park: A peaceful park with verdant landscapes, perfect for picnics.
44. Seaside Picnic: Pack a lunch and enjoy it on the beaches, with the torii gate in the backdrop.
Miyajima, with its rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and spiritual aura, offers experiences that cater to a diverse range of interests. From the tranquility of ancient temples to the bustling street markets, the island promises an unforgettable journey for every visitor.
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What To Eat and Drink in Miyajima, Japan
Miyajima, apart from its scenic and historical treasures, offers a culinary journey that resonates deeply with its cultural and natural heritage. Here’s a comprehensive guide to the island’s gastronomic delights:
1. Momiji Manju: A local specialty and perhaps the most popular snack, these are sweet cakes shaped like maple leaves, paying homage to the island’s numerous maple trees. Typically filled with red bean paste, modern variants also contain custard, chocolate, or matcha fillings.
2. Oysters: Miyajima’s waters are teeming with oysters, making the island a paradise for seafood lovers. You can relish them grilled, steamed, deep-fried, or even raw in various establishments throughout the island.
3. Anago (Eel): Anago, or sea eel, is another seafood treasure of the region. Often broiled and served atop a bed of rice (anago-meshi), it’s a flavorful and fulfilling dish.
4. Kaki no Ha Sushi: Distinct from the common sushi, this is a type of pressed mackerel sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves, which adds a unique flavor.
5. Okonomiyaki: While it’s a popular dish throughout Japan, the Hiroshima region (to which Miyajima belongs) has its own version. It’s a savory pancake layered with cabbage, pork, noodles, and other ingredients, drizzled with a tangy sauce.
6. Miyajima Beef Bun: A fusion dish that combines the western-style bun with sumptuous Miyajima beef, creating a delicious savory treat.
7. Deer Cookies: Inspired by the wild deer of Miyajima, these are cookies shaped like deer and filled with sweet fillings, a perfect souvenir or snack.
8. Tsukudani: A method of preserving food by simmering it in soy sauce and mirin. On Miyajima, small seafood, especially tiny shellfish, are prepared this way.
9. Miyajima Beer: The island has its own local brewery producing craft beers. With a few varieties on offer, including ales, pilsners, and stouts, it caters to diverse beer palates.
10. Oyster Stout: A unique brew from the local brewery, this stout is made using oysters, resulting in a distinctive flavor profile.
11. Local Sake: Given the proximity to Hiroshima, a sake-producing region, there’s a plethora of locally produced sake available on the island. Visit a local tavern or izakaya to sample the regional flavors.
12. Matcha Tea: While in Japan, indulging in traditional tea is a must. Visit a local tea house and savor freshly whisked matcha, preferably alongside a sweet treat like momiji manju.
13. Shochu and Umeshu: Shochu is a distilled spirit, often enjoyed with food, while Umeshu is a sweet and tangy plum wine. Both are widely available in local establishments.
14. Hiroshima Lemon Sour: A refreshing alcoholic beverage made using lemons from the Hiroshima region, mixed with shochu or soda. It’s a delightful drink, especially during warmer months.
15. Ryokan Dining: Stay at a traditional inn, or ryokan, where you can enjoy kaiseki, a multi-course Japanese dinner that showcases seasonal and local ingredients.
16. Seafront Dining: Several restaurants offer seafront views. Dining here, especially during sunset, with the floating torii gate in the distance, is an experience in itself.
17. Street Food Stalls: Wander around the bustling Omotesando Street, where numerous stalls offer quick bites, from grilled oysters to fresh buns.
Miyajima’s culinary landscape is deeply interwoven with its natural abundance and cultural heritage. Whether you’re indulging in fresh seafood, savoring the sweet delicacies, or sipping on locally brewed beverages, you’re partaking in a gastronomic tradition that’s as rich and storied as the island’s history. So, let your taste buds embark on this delightful journey as you explore the myriad flavors Miyajima has to offer.
source: TabiEats on YouTube
Top Restaurants In Miyajima, Japan
Miyajima, with its picturesque landscapes and cultural significance, also offers culinary experiences that capture the essence of its rich heritage. Dining on this island is not just about food but also about the atmosphere, with many establishments providing views of the iconic floating torii gate, dense forests, or tranquil sea. Here’s a comprehensive list of top restaurants that should be on every visitor’s list:
1. Kakiya (かき家):
- Specialty: This establishment is renowned for its oysters, a Miyajima specialty. They serve them fresh, grilled, fried, and even in stews.
- Atmosphere: A cozy interior combined with friendly staff. The restaurant also offers views of the surrounding landscape.
2. Yamadaya (山田家):
- Specialty: Famous for its eel (anago) dishes, particularly the anago-meshi – a delicious eel rice bowl.
- Atmosphere: Traditional Japanese setting with low tables and tatami flooring, ensuring an authentic dining experience.
3. Ueno (上野):
- Specialty: Known for its okonomiyaki, a savory pancake filled with a variety of ingredients. The Hiroshima-style includes layers of cabbage, meat, and noodles.
- Atmosphere: A casual setting, perfect for families and groups to experience the local flavors.
4. Cafe Lente:
- Specialty: Offers a variety of Western and Japanese dishes, but the highlight is their dessert menu, especially the cheesecakes.
- Atmosphere: A modern café ambiance with an open terrace, providing serene views of the surrounding nature.
5. Miyajima Brewery:
- Specialty: Local craft beers, including their unique Oyster Stout, brewed using fresh oysters.
- Atmosphere: A contemporary space where you can enjoy your drink while overlooking the waterfront.
6. Momijido (もみじ堂):
- Specialty: The spot for momiji manju, a maple leaf-shaped cake filled with various sweet fillings.
- Atmosphere: A traditional teahouse vibe, offering a peaceful respite from the bustling tourist spots.
7. Shima (島):
- Specialty: A variety of dishes, but their fresh seafood selection stands out, especially the sashimi.
- Atmosphere: Elegantly designed interiors with a touch of modernity, complemented by views of the sea.
8. OysTer (オイスター):
- Specialty: As the name suggests, they specialize in oyster dishes. Their oyster curry is a must-try.
- Atmosphere: A relaxed environment, with both traditional and western seating options.
- Specialty: Another haven for oyster lovers, with dishes ranging from raw oysters to oyster hot pots.
- Atmosphere: Floating on the sea, this restaurant offers panoramic views of the water and the iconic torii gate.
10. Torii-tei (とりい亭):
- Specialty: Offers a wide range of dishes, but their anago-meshi and tempura are particularly popular.
- Atmosphere: Set in a traditional wooden building, the ambiance exudes the warmth and charm of Japanese architecture.
11. Daisho-in Cuisine Kiyomori:
- Specialty: A unique establishment that offers vegetarian dishes inspired by the cuisine of Buddhist monks.
- Atmosphere: Located near the Daisho-in temple, the setting is serene, offering views of lush gardens.
- Specialty: Known for their sweet potato soft serve and other sweet potato-based treats.
- Atmosphere: A quaint little café with a warm and welcoming feel.
Dining in Miyajima is an amalgamation of flavors, ambiance, and cultural immersion. Each restaurant, with its specialties and atmosphere, offers a unique glimpse into the island’s culinary landscape. Whether you’re craving fresh seafood, traditional delicacies, or just a soothing drink with a view, Miyajima’s restaurants promise to satiate and enchant in equal measure.
source: japan-guide.com on YouTube
Tours For Visitors To Miyajima, Japan
For visitors looking to explore Miyajima in-depth and to truly appreciate its cultural, historical, and natural offerings, guided tours can be a wonderful way to do so. By partaking in these tours, visitors can gain insight from local experts, hear stories that aren’t commonly known, and get a richer, more nuanced understanding of the island. Here’s a detailed look into some of the best tours available on the island:
Miyajima Island Walking Tour:
- Overview: This tour covers the main attractions of Miyajima, offering guided walks through its historic and scenic spots.
- Highlights: Itsukushima Shrine, Five-Story Pagoda, Senjokaku Hall, and local shopping streets.
- Duration: Half-day (around 4 hours).
- Extras: Some tours may include local snacks or a tea ceremony experience.
Miyajima Sea Kayaking Tour:
- Overview: A unique perspective of the island, kayaking allows you to approach the iconic floating torii gate from the water.
- Highlights: Paddling around the bay, up-close views of the floating gate, and other seafront landmarks.
- Duration: 2-3 hours.
- Extras: Some providers offer sunset or sunrise tours for a magical experience.
Miyajima History and Culture Tour:
- Overview: Delve deep into the island’s rich past, from its religious significance to its historical developments.
- Highlights: Itsukushima Shrine with details of Shinto beliefs, Daisho-in Temple, and the historical narrative of the Heike Clan.
- Duration: Half-day or full-day options.
- Extras: Access to some lesser-known historical spots and potentially a traditional lunch or dinner inclusion.
Miyajima Forest Trekking Tour:
- Overview: Explore the dense forests and hiking trails of Miyajima.
- Highlights: Misen Primeval Forest, Reikado Eternal Flame, and summit of Mount Misen for panoramic views.
- Duration: Half-day to full-day, depending on chosen trails.
- Extras: Wildlife spotting and insights into local flora and fauna.
Miyajima Gourmet Tour:
- Overview: Ideal for foodies, this tour takes you through the island’s culinary delights, from street food stalls to renowned restaurants.
- Highlights: Sampling oysters, momiji manju, anago-meshi, and local craft beers.
- Duration: 2-4 hours.
- Extras: Some tours may offer cooking classes or brewery visits.
Traditional Craft Experience Tour:
- Overview: Engage with the island’s artistic side by learning and observing traditional crafts.
- Highlights: Workshops for making momiji manju, crafting traditional accessories, or painting.
- Duration: 2-3 hours.
- Extras: You get to keep your creations as souvenirs.
Nighttime Illumination Tour:
- Overview: Experience the magic of Miyajima after dark when certain temples and shrines are illuminated.
- Highlights: Itsukushima Shrine under lights, lantern-lit pathways, and nighttime street life.
- Duration: 2-3 hours.
- Extras: Some tours may include traditional dinner experiences.
- Overview: Led by professional photographers, this tour will guide you to the most photogenic spots on the island.
- Highlights: The floating torii gate at various times of the day, scenic viewpoints, and lesser-known picturesque spots.
- Duration: Half-day to full-day, depending on coverage.
- Extras: Tips and techniques from the guide on capturing the perfect shot.
Miyajima, with its multifaceted attractions, has something to offer every kind of traveler. Guided tours can significantly enrich one’s experience, providing deeper insights, stories, and facts that might be missed when exploring solo. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, a food lover, or a passionate photographer, there’s a tour tailored to your interests, waiting to unveil the wonders of this iconic island.
source: Twosome Travellers on YouTube
Miyajima Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
The serene island of Miyajima offers a variety of accommodations, ranging from luxurious hotels with breathtaking views to traditional Japanese inns (ryokans) that offer an authentic experience, down to budget-friendly hostels. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help visitors find the best place to stay:
1. Iwaso Ryokan:
- Overview: A prestigious establishment, Iwaso boasts a history dating back to the late 19th century.
- Features: Traditional Japanese rooms, onsen (hot spring) facilities, and kaiseki-style dining experiences.
- Location: Nestled amidst lush greenery, it’s near the primeval forest of Mount Misen and a short walk from the Itsukushima Shrine.
2. Miyajima Grand Hotel Arimoto:
- Overview: An elegant hotel blending modern comforts with traditional aesthetics.
- Features: Offers both Western and Japanese-style rooms, on-site onsen, and exquisite dining options.
- Location: Located conveniently close to the ferry pier and main attractions.
3. Kurayado Iroha:
- Overview: A boutique hotel that exudes luxury and class.
- Features: Contemporary Japanese design, panoramic sea views, onsen baths, and gourmet dining.
- Location: A prime spot near the floating torii gate, ensuring mesmerizing views, especially during high tide.
Guesthouses and Ryokans:
4. Ryoso Kawaguchi:
- Overview: A family-run establishment offering a warm and homely atmosphere.
- Features: Traditional tatami rooms, delicious homemade meals, and views of the five-story pagoda.
- Location: Located in the heart of Miyajima, within walking distance of major attractions.
- Overview: Situated amidst the dense forests of Mount Misen, this ryokan offers tranquility and seclusion.
- Features: Traditional rooms, local delicacies for meals, and proximity to hiking trails.
- Location: Set slightly away from the bustling town, it’s close to the Daisho-in Temple.
- Overview: A budget-friendly ryokan with a charming ambiance.
- Features: Offers tatami rooms with futon bedding, communal baths, and home-cooked meals.
- Location: Centrally located, it’s a stone’s throw away from the Itsukushima Shrine.
7. Backpackers Miyajima:
- Overview: A favorite among solo travelers and backpackers for its affordability and community feel.
- Features: Dormitory-style rooms, communal kitchen, and lounge areas.
- Location: Situated outside the island in Hatsukaichi, it’s just a short ferry ride away.
8. Miyajima Guest House Mikuniya:
- Overview: A traditional wooden house converted into a hostel, offering a blend of authenticity and affordability.
- Features: Dormitory rooms, communal spaces adorned with antiques, and a friendly atmosphere.
- Location: Conveniently located near the main attractions and the seafront.
9. Hostel & Cafe Bar Backpackers Miyajima:
- Overview: A lively space known for its cafe bar that attracts both locals and travelers.
- Features: Modern dormitory facilities, bicycle rentals, and events like live music nights.
- Location: Located close to the Miyajimaguchi ferry terminal, offering easy access to the island.
Miyajima offers a plethora of accommodations catering to various preferences and budgets. Whether you want to wake up to a view of the iconic torii gate, experience the rustic charm of a traditional inn, or meet fellow travelers in a buzzing hostel, the island promises memorable stays for every traveler. Remember, due to its popularity, it’s always a good idea to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.
source: japan-guide.com on YouTube
Day Trips From Miyajima, Japan
Miyajima, with its iconic floating torii gate and serene natural beauty, is undoubtedly a top destination in Hiroshima Prefecture. However, its strategic location also makes it a convenient starting point for several captivating day trips in the surrounding region. Here’s a comprehensive guide to day trips you can take from Miyajima:
- Overview: The capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, this city, once devastated by an atomic bomb in 1945, is now a symbol of peace and resilience.
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: Home to the Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and various monuments commemorating the bomb’s victims.
- Shukkeien Garden: A historic Japanese garden with picturesque landscapes.
- Hiroshima Castle: A reconstructed castle offering panoramic city views.
- Travel Time: Approximately 30 minutes by ferry and train.
- Overview: A charming port town known for its narrow alleys, vintage shops, and temples.
- Temple Walk: A series of 25 temples connected by a scenic walking route.
- Senkoji Park: Offers breathtaking views of the Seto Inland Sea.
- Literary Museums: Celebrating renowned Japanese authors.
- Travel Time: Approximately 1.5 to 2 hours by train.
- Overview: A historic city famed for its unique wooden bridge and castle.
- Kintaikyo Bridge: A wooden arch bridge that is one of the country’s architectural gems.
- Iwakuni Castle: Perched atop a hill, it provides panoramic views of the city.
- Shirohebi Museum: Dedicated to the city’s unique white snakes.
- Travel Time: About 1 to 1.5 hours by train.
Shimanami Kaido Cycling:
- Overview: A series of bridges connecting several islands, offering a unique cycling experience.
- Cycling Route: An approximately 70 km path boasting scenic vistas of the Seto Inland Sea.
- Island Stops: Explore islands like Oshima, Hakatajima, and Omishima.
- Kosanji Temple: Located on Ikuchijima Island, this temple complex has impressive architecture.
- Travel Time: Around 2 hours to the starting point by train and bus.
- Overview: A nature lover’s paradise with waterfalls, streams, and hiking trails.
- Hiking Trails: Trails suited for various fitness levels, weaving through the gorge’s scenic spots.
- Shiwari Waterfall: A captivating waterfall split into several segments.
- Boat Rides: Experience the gorge from the water on traditional boats.
- Travel Time: About 2 hours by bus.
Okunoshima (Rabbit Island):
- Overview: An island famous for its friendly rabbit population and a dark history of poison gas production during World War II.
- Rabbits: Interact and feed the numerous rabbits roaming freely.
- Poison Gas Museum: Learn about the island’s wartime history.
- Ruins: Explore remnants of old forts and production facilities.
- Travel Time: Roughly 2.5 hours, including ferry and train.
- Overview: A modern city juxtaposed with ancient landmarks and cultural gems.
- Fukuyama Castle: Also known as Hisamatsu Castle, this is one of the largest castles in the Chugoku region.
- Rose Park: Showcasing over 280 types of roses, it’s a picturesque spot, especially during the blooming season.
- Tomonoura: A historic port town within Fukuyama, known for its preserved buildings and scenic bay views.
- Travel Time: Approximately 2 hours by train.
- Overview: Often referred to as the “Little Kyoto of Aki,” Takehara offers historic streets and traditional architecture.
- Historic Preservation Area: Wander through streets lined with traditional wooden houses and samurai residences.
- Shokei no Michi: A beautiful path especially during October when it’s lined with illuminated bamboo lanterns.
- Kaikei Museum: Dedicated to Kaikei, a prominent Buddhist sculptor from the Kamakura period.
- Travel Time: Around 1.5 to 2 hours by train.
- Overview: A city known for its natural beauty and hot springs.
- Kawajiri River: A tranquil spot perfect for leisurely strolls, picnics, and boat rides.
- Kannawa Onsen: Enjoy the therapeutic benefits of these natural hot springs, with several ryokan and public bathhouses to choose from.
- Suisho-ji Temple: A serene temple located in the mountains, offering picturesque views.
- Travel Time: Approximately 2 hours by train and bus.
- Overview: A charming city in Okayama Prefecture, renowned for its well-preserved Edo-period (1603-1868) buildings.
- Bikan Historical Area: Explore picturesque streets lined with white-walled wooden warehouses along a canal.
- Ohara Museum of Art: The first museum of Western art in Japan, showcasing works from masters like Picasso, El Greco, and Gauguin.
- Kurashiki Ivy Square: A vibrant complex with ivy-covered red brick buildings, offering shops, restaurants, and cultural sites.
- Travel Time: Roughly 2.5 to 3 hours by train.
- Overview: Dubbed the “Little Kyoto of the San’in Region,” Tsuwano exudes a historic charm with its samurai residences and ancient shrines.
- Tonomachi Street: A historic street lined with well-preserved samurai houses and old merchant residences.
- Tsuwano Castle Ruins: While the castle no longer stands, the site offers panoramic views of the town.
- Yabusame Festival (April): Experience this horseback archery event, a tradition since the Edo period.
- Travel Time: Approximately 3 hours by train.
- Overview: Historically a naval port, Kure offers maritime attractions and is renowned for its naval history.
- Yamato Museum: Dedicated to the history of shipbuilding, it showcases a scaled replica of the battleship Yamato.
- JMSDF Kure Museum: Provides insights into the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force with real submarines on display.
- Iron Whale Museum: Explore the inside of a real submarine, the Akishio.
- Travel Time: Roughly 1.5 hours by train.
- Overview: The capital city of Shimane Prefecture, it is renowned for its castle and proximity to Lake Shinji.
- Matsue Castle: One of the few remaining original castles in Japan, offering breathtaking views of the city.
- Shimane Art Museum: Features contemporary artworks and panoramic views of Lake Shinji.
- Tamatsukuri Onsen: A famous hot spring area near Lake Shinji.
- Travel Time: Approximately 3 to 3.5 hours by train.
Akiyoshidai Plateau and Akiyoshi Cave:
- Overview: Located in Yamaguchi Prefecture, this area boasts Japan’s largest karst landscape and an impressive limestone cave.
- Akiyoshidai Plateau: Over 400 limestone pinnacles create an almost surreal landscape.
- Akiyoshi Cave: Japan’s largest limestone cave, with stunning rock formations and underground streams.
- Travel Time: Around 2.5 to 3 hours by train and bus.
- Overview: A dynamic city in Kyushu, Fukuoka seamlessly merges ancient temples with modern skyscrapers and is renowned for its vibrant food scene.
- Canal City Hakata: A large shopping and entertainment complex.
- Dazaifu Tenmangu: A grand shrine dedicated to learning, surrounded by plum trees.
- Nakasu: Fukuoka’s entertainment district known for its yatai (street food stalls) serving local delicacies.
- Travel Time: Approximately 3.5 to 4 hours by train.
- Overview: Saijo is a small town in Ehime Prefecture and is one of Japan’s top sake brewing areas.
- Sake Breweries: Wander around Saijo’s brewing district and visit some of the eight historic breweries. Most offer free tastings.
- Saijo Festival (October): Experience this lively event featuring traditional dances, music, and sake tasting sessions.
- Travel Time: Approximately 3 to 3.5 hours by train.
Tottori Sand Dunes:
- Overview: Japan’s largest sand dunes, offering a unique desert landscape in coastal Tottori.
- Dune Activities: Try sandboarding, paragliding, or camel riding.
- The Sand Museum: Displays massive sand sculptures by artists from around the world.
- Travel Time: Roughly 4 hours by train.
- Overview: A historic town with preserved samurai and geisha districts.
- Sanzhi Horanenya: A biennial festival where participants don masks and elaborate costumes to dance through the town.
- Sanzhi Ushi Tsuida: The historic district known for its beautiful old homes and narrow streets.
- Travel Time: About 3.5 hours by train.
- Overview: Renowned for being Japan’s hot spring capital, Beppu boasts a variety of unique hot spring experiences.
- The Hells (Jigoku): A series of strikingly colorful and boiling hot springs for viewing, not bathing.
- Beppu Beach Sand Bath: Get buried in naturally heated sand by the beach.
- Onsen Experiences: From traditional baths to mud baths and steam baths, Beppu offers a range of therapeutic experiences.
- Travel Time: Roughly 4 to 4.5 hours by train.
- Overview: A city known for its stunning garden, castle, and the famous Japanese folk tale of Momotaro (Peach Boy).
- Korakuen Garden: One of Japan’s top three gardens, showcasing meticulous landscaping, teahouses, and seasonal blooms.
- Okayama Castle: Also known as “Crow Castle” due to its black exterior.
- Momotaro District: Centered around the theme of the Momotaro legend, it offers shops, restaurants, and attractions related to the famous tale.
- Travel Time: Approximately 2.5 to 3 hours by train.
While Miyajima itself is a treasure trove of cultural and natural attractions, its vicinity to other notable destinations in Hiroshima Prefecture and beyond enriches the travel experience. From delving into modern history in Hiroshima City to cycling across picturesque islands or strolling in historic port towns, there’s a plethora of experiences waiting just a short journey away from Miyajima.
source: Aha! Life in Japan on YouTube
Miyajima Transportation Guide
Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima, is an island situated in the Seto Inland Sea near Hiroshima. It’s one of Japan’s most iconic destinations, thanks to the iconic Itsukushima Shrine and its floating torii gate. Given its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s no surprise that Miyajima is well-connected with various transportation options for tourists. Here’s an exhaustive guide to getting to and around Miyajima.
Getting to Miyajima:
A. From Hiroshima:
- JR Miyajima Ferry:
- If you’re coming from Hiroshima, the quickest and most convenient method is the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station. From here, it’s a short walk to the JR Miyajima Ferry terminal. The ferry ride to Miyajima is about 10 minutes.
- Those holding a JR Pass can use it on this ferry.
- Miyajima Matsudai Kisen Ferry:
- Another ferry service from Miyajimaguchi. It operates roughly on the same schedule as the JR ferry but isn’t covered by the JR Pass.
B. From Other Parts of Japan:
- If you’re coming from other parts of Japan, aim to get to Hiroshima first. Hiroshima is accessible by Shinkansen (bullet train) from most major cities.
Getting Around Miyajima:
- Miyajima is relatively small, and most of its attractions are within walking distance from the ferry terminal. The island offers picturesque views, and walking is a great way to soak in the serene atmosphere.
- Bicycle Rentals:
- For those looking to cover more ground, several shops near the ferry terminal offer bicycle rentals. It’s an efficient way to explore the island, especially if you’re pressed for time.
- Rental Cars:
- It’s worth noting that while cars are allowed on the island, tourists often find them unnecessary due to the island’s size. If you still prefer a car, rentals are available, but remember that parking is limited.
- Momijidani Park Ropeway:
- This ropeway is popular among tourists aiming to visit the summit of Mount Misen without hiking. The journey has two segments, with a transfer at the Kayatani Station. Once at the top, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea and its many islands.
- Timings: Always check the ferry and ropeway schedules ahead of time, especially during peak seasons and holidays. Operations may vary depending on weather conditions.
- Tickets: It’s advisable to buy return tickets if you’re planning a day trip to avoid queues during the return journey.
- Luggage: Travel light. While there are coin lockers available at the ferry terminal, space might be limited during peak seasons.
- Accessibility: Most of the island, including the Itsukushima Shrine, is wheelchair accessible. However, some parts, like certain hiking trails on Mount Misen, might pose challenges.
- Local Etiquette: Miyajima is a revered site. Always be respectful of local customs, especially around religious sites. Additionally, feeding the wild deer, a common sight on the island, is discouraged.
Miyajima is a blend of natural beauty and historical significance, making it a must-visit destination for anyone touring Japan. Its transportation system, from the iconic ferry rides with views of the floating torii gate to the ropeway rides offering a bird’s-eye view of the region, adds to the overall experience. As with any travel, a little planning goes a long way. By understanding your transportation options and planning accordingly, you can ensure a seamless and memorable trip to this sacred island.
source: internationally ME on YouTube
Miyajima 1 Day Travel Itinerary
Embarking on a day trip to Miyajima promises a whirlwind of cultural enrichment, natural beauty, and unique experiences. Though one day might not capture all the island has to offer, with some careful planning, you can cover its most iconic spots. Here’s a detailed itinerary to make the most of your time:
8:00 AM: Depart from Hiroshima
- Start early and catch a JR train to Miyajimaguchi Station.
- Upon arrival, walk to the ferry terminal and board the JR Miyajima Ferry (remember, if you have a JR Pass, the ferry ride is covered).
9:00 AM: Arrival on Miyajima & Breakfast
- As you arrive, the majestic floating torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine welcomes you.
- Grab a light breakfast from one of the many eateries near the ferry terminal. Consider trying the island’s local specialty, Momiji Manju, a maple leaf-shaped cake filled with sweet bean paste.
10:00 AM: Itsukushima Shrine
- Visit the iconic Itsukushima Shrine. This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for its unique “floating” appearance during high tide.
- Wander around the shrine complex, taking in the vermillion-painted buildings, pagodas, and theater stages.
11:30 AM: Daisho-in Temple
- Make your way to Daisho-in Temple, a significant temple in the Shingon sect of Buddhism.
- Explore the temple grounds, including spinning the large prayer wheels and admiring the countless miniature Buddha statues.
1:00 PM: Lunch
- Head to Omotesando Street, the main shopping street in Miyajima. Here you can find a range of restaurants serving delicacies like Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, grilled oysters, and anago (grilled eel) over rice.
2:00 PM: Momijidani Park and Miyajima Ropeway
- Walk or take a shuttle to Momijidani Park, a picturesque park especially famous for its autumn colors.
- From the park, board the Miyajima Ropeway to reach the halfway point of Mount Misen. The ropeway offers breathtaking views of the Seto Inland Sea.
3:00 PM: Mount Misen
- From the ropeway’s upper station, hike to the summit of Mount Misen. The walk is approximately 30 minutes and takes you through dense forests with occasional vantage points.
- At the summit, enjoy panoramic views and also visit the Misen Hondo and Reikado buildings. The latter keeps a fire said to have been burning for over 1,200 years.
5:00 PM: Explore Omotesando Street & Snack Time
- Descend from Mount Misen and make your way back to Omotesando Street.
- Spend some time shopping for souvenirs, including Miyajima’s famous wooden rice paddles, crafts, and local snacks.
- Try some grilled oysters or another round of Momiji Manju, perhaps with different fillings like chocolate or matcha.
6:30 PM: Sunset at Itsukushima Shrine
- Head back to the Itsukushima Shrine area. The sunset views against the backdrop of the floating torii gate are ethereal and provide a different perspective from the morning visit.
7:30 PM: Return to Hiroshima
- As the evening sets in, make your way back to the ferry terminal.
- Enjoy the illuminated views of Miyajima from the ferry as you head back to Miyajimaguchi and subsequently Hiroshima.
- Check tide times before your visit. The “floating” appearance of the torii gate is best during high tide.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking and light hiking.
- Stay hydrated, especially if you’re visiting during the warmer months.
A day trip to Miyajima, though swift, promises lasting memories. From the spiritual ambiance of its temples and shrines to the untouched beauty of Mount Misen, the island offers a condensed yet fulfilling glimpse into the beauty and culture of Japan.
source: Abroad In Japan on YouTube
Miyajima 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary
Dedicating 3-4 days to Miyajima allows a deep dive into the island’s cultural, historical, and natural offerings. Here’s a detailed itinerary for a comprehensive and leisurely exploration of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 1: Arrival & Iconic Landmarks
Morning: Arrival & Exploration
- 8:00 AM: Depart from Hiroshima for Miyajima.
- 9:00 AM: Upon reaching, enjoy a serene breakfast with views of the floating torii gate.
- 10:00 AM: Visit the Itsukushima Shrine. With fewer morning crowds, it’s an opportune time to admire the shrine’s architecture and its iconic floating appearance.
Afternoon: Daisho-in Temple & Miyajima History
- 12:30 PM: Lunch at a local eatery, savoring the famous Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki.
- 2:00 PM: Wander to Daisho-in Temple, absorbing its intricate details and religious artifacts.
- 4:00 PM: Visit the Miyajima History and Folk Museum to understand the island’s cultural evolution.
Evening: Relaxation & Culinary Exploration
- 6:00 PM: Stroll along Omotesando Street, exploring shops and trying out local delicacies.
- 8:00 PM: Dinner at a traditional Japanese inn or “ryokan,” experiencing the island’s culinary best.
Day 2: Natural Beauty & Scenic Vistas
Morning: Momijidani Park & Mount Misen
- 8:00 AM: Breakfast at your accommodation.
- 9:00 AM: Begin your journey to Mount Misen via Momijidani Park, especially resplendent in autumn.
- 10:30 AM: Take the Miyajima Ropeway, soaking in aerial views.
Afternoon: Exploration & Spiritual Connection atop Mount Misen
- 12:00 PM: Picnic lunch atop Mount Misen with scenic views.
- 1:00 PM: Explore various temple complexes, including Misen Hondo and the ever-burning fire at Reikado.
- 3:00 PM: Start your descent, either hiking down or via the ropeway, based on your preference.
Evening: Serenity by the Shore
- 6:00 PM: Dinner by the shore, enjoying Miyajima’s seafood.
- 8:00 PM: Leisurely walk along the beach, listening to the waves and viewing the illuminated torii gate.
Day 3: Beaches, Forests, & Deer
Morning: Sun, Sand, & Sea
- 8:00 AM: Breakfast.
- 9:00 AM: Head to Tsutsumigaura Nature Park and Beach. Enjoy sunbathing, swimming, or even camping if you’re up for it.
Afternoon: Wildlife & Woodlands
- 1:00 PM: Lunch at a beachside café.
- 2:30 PM: Explore the island’s lush forests. Miyajima is home to friendly wild deer, so don’t be surprised if you encounter them on your journey.
- 4:00 PM: Visit the Miyajima Aquarium, showcasing marine life from the Seto Inland Sea.
Evening: Artistic Insights
- 6:30 PM: Explore the Miyajima Traditional Crafts Center.
- 8:00 PM: Dinner, perhaps at a cozy, local sushi joint.
Day 4: Last-Minute Exploration & Departure
Morning: Shopping & Souvenirs
- 8:00 AM: Breakfast.
- 9:00 AM: Head back to Omotesando Street for any last-minute shopping. Pick up souvenirs like wooden rice paddles or Momiji Manju.
Afternoon: Farewell to Miyajima
- 12:00 PM: Enjoy a hearty lunch, perhaps trying anything you might’ve missed the previous days.
- 2:00 PM: Take a final leisurely walk, capturing photos and moments.
- 4:00 PM: Depart for Hiroshima or your next destination.
- Always check local events or festivals. Miyajima hosts several events throughout the year, which can offer deeper cultural insights.
- Consider staying in a traditional “ryokan” for a unique cultural experience.
- Remember the deer, while friendly, are wild animals. Feeding them or getting too close might be discouraged.
Spending 3-4 days in Miyajima allows for a balance between sightseeing, relaxation, and immersion into the island’s culture and beauty. With its rich tapestry of history, spirituality, and natural allure, Miyajima is sure to leave an indelible mark on your heart.
source: One Pack Wanderers on YouTube
Miyajima 1 Week Travel Itinerary
A week in Miyajima presents an opportunity to truly immerse yourself in its cultural, historical, and natural wonders. This extended stay allows not only for deeper exploration of known attractions but also to discover hidden gems often overlooked in shorter visits.
Day 1: Arrival & Gentle Immersion
Morning: Settling In
- 9:00 AM: Depart Hiroshima for Miyajima.
- 10:00 AM: Arrive in Miyajima and check into your accommodation.
- 11:30 AM: Brunch at a traditional Japanese cafe with a local Miyajima specialty.
Afternoon: Orientation Walk
- 1:00 PM: Casual exploration of the immediate vicinity, familiarizing yourself with local landmarks.
- 3:00 PM: A leisurely walk around the town, understanding the layout.
Evening: Introduction to Local Delicacies
- 6:00 PM: Dinner at a renowned local restaurant.
- 8:00 PM: Evening stroll and possibly an early night to rejuvenate for the upcoming week.
Day 2: Major Attractions & Historical Immersion
Morning to Afternoon: Deep Dive into Miyajima’s History
- 8:00 AM: Breakfast.
- 9:00 AM: Explore Itsukushima Shrine.
- 11:00 AM: Visit Daisho-in Temple.
- 1:00 PM: Lunch.
- 2:30 PM: Head to Miyajima History and Folk Museum.
Evening: Sunset at the Shrine
- 6:00 PM: Witness the ethereal sunset at the Itsukushima Shrine.
- 8:00 PM: Dinner at a cozy local eatery.
Day 3: Nature’s Bounty
Morning: Miyajima’s Beaches
- 8:00 AM: Breakfast.
- 9:30 AM: Explore Tsutsumigaura Nature Park and Beach.
Afternoon: Forest Expedition
- 1:00 PM: Picnic lunch at the beach.
- 2:30 PM: Embark on a trail through Miyajima’s woodlands, encountering local fauna like the revered deer.
Evening: Relax & Rejuvenate
- 7:00 PM: Dinner and possibly a traditional onsen experience to relax.
Day 4: Mount Misen Adventure
Whole Day: Conquer the Mountain
- 8:00 AM: Breakfast.
- 9:00 AM: Start the journey to Mount Misen via the Miyajima Ropeway.
- 12:00 PM: Picnic at a scenic point on Mount Misen.
- 1:00 PM: Continue exploring, visiting temples and enjoying panoramic views.
- 6:00 PM: Descend and have a hearty dinner.
Day 5: Art, Craft & Culinary Exploration
Morning to Afternoon: Dive into Local Crafts
- 8:00 AM: Breakfast.
- 9:30 AM: Visit Miyajima Traditional Crafts Center.
- 1:00 PM: Lunch at Omotesando Street.
Evening: Culinary Delights
- 3:00 PM: Attend a local cooking class to learn how to prepare Miyajima delicacies.
- 7:00 PM: Enjoy the fruits of your labor for dinner.
Day 6: Off the Beaten Path
Morning: Hidden Treasures
- 8:00 AM: Breakfast.
- 9:30 AM: Explore lesser-known attractions, such as the Senjokaku Hall and Five-storied Pagoda.
Afternoon: Serenity at Ryugu Shrine
- 1:00 PM: Lunch.
- 3:00 PM: Visit the peaceful Ryugu Shrine, away from the tourist hustle.
Evening: A Night of Culture
- 6:00 PM: Attend a traditional cultural performance or tea ceremony, if available.
- 8:00 PM: Dinner.
Day 7: Farewell & Souvenir Hunting
Morning: Last-minute Exploration
- 8:00 AM: Breakfast.
- 9:30 AM: Revisit any favorite spots or discover new ones.
Afternoon: Souvenir Shopping
- 12:00 PM: Lunch.
- 1:30 PM: Shop for souvenirs, gifts, and mementos on Omotesando Street.
Evening: Farewell to Miyajima
- 6:00 PM: A special farewell dinner.
- 8:00 PM: Enjoy a last stroll, taking in the illuminated beauty of the island.
A week in Miyajima allows for a more holistic and leisurely experience, blending relaxation with discovery. Whether it’s the rhythm of the tides against the floating torii gate, the wisdom echoing in temple halls, or the island’s culinary and artistic expressions, Miyajima offers a profound experience that touches the soul.
source: Too Much Luggage on YouTube
Is Miyajima A Safe City To Visit?
Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima, is not a city in its own right but a small island located off the coast of Hiroshima in the Hiroshima Prefecture of Japan. Despite its size, Miyajima is renowned worldwide for its iconic “floating” torii gate, cultural heritage, and natural beauty. When considering safety for travelers, Miyajima stands out as a particularly secure destination, and here’s an in-depth look into various safety aspects.
- Crime Rate: Like many parts of Japan, Miyajima boasts a very low crime rate. Violent crimes are rare, and petty crimes like pickpocketing are also relatively infrequent. Visitors often comment on how they feel safe walking around, even during nighttime.
- Local Residents: The local community is known for its warm hospitality and welcoming nature towards tourists. They are accustomed to receiving visitors from all over the world and are generally helpful, even with potential language barriers.
- Natural Disasters: While Japan is prone to natural calamities like earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons, Miyajima’s infrastructure, like much of Japan, is built to be resilient. The island has adequate warning systems, and accommodations are constructed to withstand earthquakes.
- Deer Interaction: One of Miyajima’s charms is its population of wild deer that roam freely. While they are generally docile and accustomed to human presence, it’s essential to remember that they are wild animals. Feeding them or trying to pet them may lead to unpredictable behavior. Visitors should avoid feeding the deer, as human food can harm them and feeding can lead to aggressive behavior over time.
Travel and Health Safety:
- Medical Facilities: While Miyajima has some clinics, for severe medical emergencies, it might be necessary to return to Hiroshima, where there are more comprehensive medical facilities. It’s always advisable for tourists to have travel insurance that covers potential medical emergencies.
- Food and Water: The food in Miyajima is generally of high quality and safe to consume. Tap water is also safe to drink in Japan, though bottled water is readily available everywhere.
- Travel Scams: Compared to other global tourist destinations, travel scams are almost unheard of in Miyajima. However, like anywhere else, it’s always good to remain aware and informed.
- Ferry Rides: To reach Miyajima, one usually takes a ferry from the mainland. These ferries are safe, well-maintained, and adhere to strict safety guidelines. Always follow the instructions provided by the crew, especially during boarding and disembarking.
- On Foot: Much of Miyajima’s exploration happens on foot. The roads and pathways are well-maintained, but since the island has hilly terrains, proper footwear is advised. At night, while the main areas are well-lit, some remote parts might have limited lighting. A flashlight or a phone with a torch function can be handy.
In the grand spectrum of global travel destinations, Miyajima ranks high in terms of safety. However, as with any travel experience, visitors should exercise general caution, respect local customs, and stay informed about local conditions. Always keeping personal belongings secure, understanding local wildlife, and having the necessary contact numbers (like local emergency services) are prudent steps for a memorable and trouble-free visit. With these considerations in mind, Miyajima is not only a culturally enriching destination but also a haven for travelers seeking tranquility and safety.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Miyajima?
Miyajima, renowned for its iconic Itsukushima Shrine with the famous floating torii gate, offers visitors a blend of cultural heritage, natural beauty, and spiritual tranquillity. However, to optimize the experience, it’s crucial to plan the visit during the right season. Here’s a comprehensive look into the best times to visit this picturesque island.
Spring (Late March to May):
- Cherry Blossoms: Spring in Japan is synonymous with sakura (cherry blossoms), and Miyajima is no exception. The island comes alive with pastel hues, offering breathtaking views, especially around Itsukushima Shrine.
- Pleasant Weather: Mild temperatures make it comfortable to explore the island, especially for hiking up Mount Misen or walking through Momijidani Park.
- Cultural Festivals: Spring also witnesses several festivals, enhancing the island’s vibrancy.
- Crowds: Being the cherry blossom season, it’s also peak tourist season. Expect larger crowds, especially during weekends and holidays.
Summer (June to August):
- Warm Climate: If you prefer warmer temperatures, summer offers just that. Beaches like Tsutsumigaura also become more appealing.
- Fireworks & Festivals: Miyajima’s fireworks festival in August is a significant draw. The night skies illuminate, reflecting brilliantly over the waters.
- Rainy Season: Early summer, particularly June, is the rainy season, which might dampen outdoor plans.
- Humidity: July and August can get humid, which some travelers might find uncomfortable.
Autumn (September to November):
- Fall Foliage: As sakura defines spring, koyo (autumn leaves) defines the fall in Japan. Miyajima’s landscape transforms into warm hues of red, orange, and yellow, making it exceptionally picturesque.
- Cool Weather: The temperatures begin to drop, making it comfortable for outdoor activities without the summer humidity.
- Culinary Delights: The season brings a variety of seasonal foods and treats, offering a gastronomic delight.
- Popularity: Like spring, fall attracts many tourists, especially those wanting to capture the autumn foliage.
Winter (December to February):
- Fewer Tourists: Winter sees fewer tourists, providing a more serene and authentic experience.
- Snow-Capped Scenery: Snowfall, while not as heavy as in northern Japan, can adorn Miyajima’s landscape, offering a different kind of aesthetic beauty.
- Winter Delicacies: Warm dishes and seasonal seafood become prominent in local menus, perfect for the chilly weather.
- Colder Temperatures: It can get quite cold, especially in January and February. Ensure you pack adequately.
- Tidal Patterns: The famous floating torii gate looks different depending on the tide. During high tide, it appears to float, making it a popular time for photos. Low tide allows visitors to walk up to the gate. Check the tide timings before your visit.
- Local Festivals: Depending on your interests, you might want to align your visit with specific cultural or religious festivals on the island.
The best time to visit Miyajima largely depends on individual preferences. For those seeking the iconic cherry blossoms or autumn foliage, spring and fall are optimal, respectively. Summer offers warmth and festivals, while winter provides tranquillity and a distinct snowy charm. Regardless of the season, Miyajima’s timeless beauty and spiritual aura remain constant, promising an unforgettable experience.
Top Festivals and Events in Miyajima
Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima, is a site of deep spiritual significance and cultural richness in Japan. Throughout the year, various festivals and events reflect the island’s historical, religious, and local traditions. Here’s a comprehensive list of the top festivals and events that captivate both locals and tourists alike:
Miyajima Oyster Festival (February)
- Miyajima is renowned for its delicious oysters, and every February, the island celebrates its bountiful harvest.
- Visitors can savor fresh oysters prepared in various ways – grilled, steamed, fried, or even raw.
- The festival is not just about food; it’s a community celebration with performances and other entertainment.
Kiyomori Festival (March)
- This festival honors Taira no Kiyomori, a historic figure who played a crucial role in establishing Itsukushima Shrine’s prominence.
- The highlight is a grand parade, where participants don traditional Heian-era costumes, re-enacting scenes from Kiyomori’s life.
- It provides a splendid opportunity to witness and appreciate Japan’s classical history and traditions.
Miyajima Water Fireworks Display (August)
- Held during summer, this is one of the most anticipated events, attracting thousands of spectators.
- The skies above Itsukushima Shrine are lit up with mesmerizing fireworks, creating a brilliant reflection over the water.
- Coupled with the illuminated floating torii gate, the fireworks create an enchanting atmosphere.
Kangensai Festival (July)
- This is the grandest festival of Itsukushima Shrine and dates back to the Heian period.
- It involves a ceremonial transfer of the deity from the shrine to a boat, accompanied by traditional music (kangen) performances.
- The deity’s boat, along with other boats, sails around the bay, creating a spiritually charged and vibrant maritime procession.
Autumn Maple Festival (November)
- As the fall colors envelop Miyajima, Momijidani Park becomes the center of attraction.
- The festival celebrates the splendid autumn foliage, with the park’s maple trees turning brilliant shades of red and orange.
- Various events, including tea ceremonies, are organized amidst this natural spectacle.
Hiwatarishiki Fire Walking Ritual (November)
- Held at Daiganji Temple, this ritual involves the temple’s monks walking barefoot over embers.
- It’s a purification rite, and after the monks have completed their walk, the public is also allowed to participate.
- While it’s a deeply spiritual event, it’s also a testament to human endurance and faith.
Tanabata Star Festival (July)
- Tanabata, or the Star Festival, is celebrated across Japan, and Miyajima has its unique take.
- Locals write wishes on colorful strips of paper and tie them to bamboo branches.
- Various events, including traditional dance and music performances, mark the occasion.
Chinka-sai (Fire Festival) (December)
- Held at Itsukushima Shrine, this festival is a ritual to pray for protection from fire.
- It’s particularly significant as many structures in Miyajima are wooden and historically, fires have caused damage.
- Amid chants and prayers, sacred fires are lit, creating a serene ambiance.
Miyajima, with its seamless blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage, is a hub of festivities and events throughout the year. Whether it’s the food-centric celebrations of the Oyster Festival or the deep spiritual processions of Kangensai, each event offers visitors a unique glimpse into the island’s soul. Aligning your visit with any of these festivals can greatly enrich the Miyajima experience, making it memorable and immersive.
Miyajima Shopping Guide and Souvenir List
Miyajima, with its historic and cultural significance, is not just a place for sightseeing but also offers a delightful shopping experience for tourists. From traditional crafts to scrumptious treats, there are a plethora of items that you can take home as a piece of your Miyajima experience. Here’s an in-depth guide to shopping in Miyajima and a list of must-buy souvenirs.
Where to Shop:
1. Omotesando Shopping Street:
- The primary shopping hub, Omotesando Street, is a bustling pedestrian lane lined with numerous shops selling souvenirs, crafts, and local delicacies.
- It’s a great place to start your shopping adventure and soak in the vibrant atmosphere.
2. Machiya Street:
- A little more laid-back than Omotesando, Machiya Street is characterized by its historic wooden buildings. Here, you can find artisanal shops selling handmade products and crafts.
3. Nearby Itsukushima Shrine:
- Several shops in the vicinity of the shrine offer religious artifacts, charms, and other spiritual souvenirs.
1. Miyajima Crafts
- Wooden Rice Spoons (Shamoji): Miyajima is the birthplace of the wooden rice spoon, and it’s a popular souvenir. These spoons come in various sizes and designs, often intricately carved.
- Momiji Manju Molds: The maple leaf-shaped cake, Momiji Manju, is synonymous with Miyajima. Taking home a mold as a memento can be a unique souvenir.
2. Food and Snacks
- Momiji Manju: A must-buy, these are sweet pastries shaped like maple leaves and filled with various fillings like red bean, custard, chocolate, or matcha.
- Oysters: Miyajima is famous for its oysters. While you can’t carry fresh oysters, you can find oyster-flavored snacks, seasonings, and canned oysters.
- Anago Eel Pie: Another savory treat, these pies have a flavorful eel filling, reflecting the local seafood culture.
3. Miyajima Ceramics
- The island has a tradition of ceramic production. You can find beautiful pottery, dishes, and decorative items, often with designs inspired by the island’s landscapes and motifs.
4. Deer-themed Items
- Given the significance of free-roaming deer in Miyajima, various shops sell deer-themed items like keychains, plush toys, postcards, and more.
5. Traditional Clothing and Accessories
- Find beautiful yukata (summer kimono), handkerchiefs, and bags with traditional Japanese designs. Some shops also offer custom-made items.
6. Religious Charms and Artifacts
- Near the Itsukushima Shrine and other temples, you can buy protective charms (omamori) for health, safety, good luck, and other purposes. These make for meaningful gifts.
7. Miyajima Beer
- For those who enjoy alcoholic beverages, Miyajima Beer is a local craft beer worth trying. You can purchase bottles as souvenirs or even unique beer glasses with Miyajima branding.
8. Local Art
- Visit galleries and shops selling paintings, sketches, and prints showcasing Miyajima’s landscapes. They make for beautiful mementos or gifts.
9. Japanese Sweets (Wagashi)
- Apart from Momiji Manju, there are other traditional sweets, like dorayaki, daifuku, and more, made with local ingredients.
Tips for Shopping in Miyajima:
- Haggle Respectfully: While it’s not common to haggle in Japan, some shops might offer a discount, especially if you’re purchasing multiple items. Always negotiate politely.
- Check for the Authenticity: Ensure that what you’re buying, especially crafts, is made in Miyajima to support local artisans.
- Tax-Free Shopping: Tourists can benefit from tax-free shopping at eligible stores. Always carry your passport for these transactions.
Miyajima offers a shopping experience that mirrors its cultural richness. Each item, be it a craft, snack, or artifact, tells a story of the island’s heritage and traditions. Whether you’re looking for something personal or gifts for loved ones, Miyajima promises unique and memorable souvenirs.
source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Miyajima?
After soaking in the spiritual and scenic beauty of Miyajima, many travelers wonder where to head next to continue their Japanese journey. Fortunately, Japan’s diverse landscapes, rich history, and efficient transportation system offer a myriad of options that complement a Miyajima trip. Here’s a comprehensive guide on the top destinations to consider after your Miyajima adventure:
- Only a short ferry and train ride away from Miyajima lies Hiroshima, a city that has risen from the ashes of its tragic past.
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: Home to the iconic A-Bomb Dome, this park is a stark reminder of the devastating effects of nuclear warfare. The Peace Memorial Museum within provides a poignant narrative of the tragic events of 1945.
- Hiroshima Castle: A reconstructed castle showcasing the city’s pre-atomic bomb history.
- Shukkeien Garden: A beautiful traditional garden, ideal for a peaceful stroll.
- A bustling metropolis known for its modern architecture, vibrant nightlife, and delicious street food.
- Dotonbori: A lively entertainment area filled with neon lights, restaurants, and street food vendors. Try takoyaki, a famous Osaka snack!
- Osaka Castle: A historic landmark surrounded by parks and gardens.
- Universal Studios Japan: A fun-filled theme park for families and pop culture enthusiasts.
- Japan’s ancient capital, Kyoto is replete with temples, traditional wooden houses, and beautiful landscapes.
- Kiyomizu-dera: A historic temple with panoramic views of the city.
- Fushimi Inari Shrine: Famous for its thousands of vibrant red torii gates.
- Gion: The geisha district, where you can spot geishas in their traditional attire and explore quaint teahouses and shops.
- Known for its giant Buddha statue and freely roaming deer, Nara is a place of spiritual and natural beauty.
- Todai-ji Temple: Houses the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue.
- Nara Park: Interact with friendly deer and enjoy the serene ambiance.
- Kasuga-taisha: A UNESCO World Heritage site known for its many stone lanterns.
- Often dubbed as the “Land of Sunshine,” Okayama offers beautiful gardens and a famous castle.
- Korakuen Garden: Regarded as one of Japan’s top three gardens, it’s a picturesque landscape garden.
- Okayama Castle: Also known as “Crow Castle” due to its black exterior.
- Kurashiki: A historic town with preserved wooden buildings, canals, and museums.
- This island in the Seto Inland Sea is famous for its contemporary art museums, sculptures, and installations.
- Chichu Art Museum: Designed by architect Tadao Ando and houses artwork by artists like Monet and James Turrell.
- Benesse House: A combination of a museum and a hotel showcasing various art pieces.
- Outdoor Installations: Discover various art pieces, including Yayoi Kusama’s iconic yellow pumpkin, dotted around the island.
- A port city known for its cosmopolitan flair, scenic mountains, and, of course, Kobe beef.
- Kobe Harborland: A shopping and entertainment district by the harbor.
- Arima Onsen: Japan’s oldest hot spring town, perfect for relaxation.
- Mount Rokko: Offers panoramic views of the city and Osaka Bay.
- Located in the mountainous Gifu Prefecture, Takayama retains an old-world charm with its beautifully preserved old town and traditional festivals.
- Sanmachi Suji: The old town streets, lined with wooden merchant houses, sake breweries, and craft shops.
- Takayama Festival: One of Japan’s most beautiful festivals, held twice a year in spring and autumn, showcasing intricately decorated floats.
- Hida Folk Village: An open-air museum displaying traditional houses from the Hida region.
- Often called “Little Kyoto”, Kanazawa offers a rich cultural experience without the same level of tourist crowds.
- Kenrokuen Garden: One of the top three gardens in Japan, celebrated for its beauty in all seasons.
- Kanazawa Castle: A sprawling castle with well-maintained grounds.
- Geisha Districts: Areas like Higashi-Chaya and Nishi-Chaya, where traditional wooden geisha houses still stand.
- Located southeast of Hiroshima, Iwakuni boasts a unique wooden bridge and a mountaintop castle.
- Kintai Bridge: A historical wooden arch bridge, known for its unique construction.
- Iwakuni Castle: Offering spectacular views of the surrounding city and Seto Inland Sea.
- A prefecture more off the beaten path, known for its sand dunes – a unique landscape in Japan.
- Tottori Sand Dunes: Vast sand expanses suitable for paragliding, camel rides, and sandboarding.
- The Sand Museum: Displays intricate sand sculptures crafted by artists from around the world.
- An exquisite cycling route that connects Japan’s main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, passing over six smaller islands in the Seto Inland Sea.
- Cycling Adventure: The route offers cycling paths with mesmerizing views of the Seto Inland Sea, bridges, and islands. Bike rentals are available for tourists.
- Island Hopping: Each of the islands, such as Omishima and Ikuchijima, offers unique attractions, from temples to beaches.
Whether you’re seeking modern urban vibes, historical insights, or serene natural beauty, there’s a destination awaiting you post-Miyajima. With Japan’s efficient rail system, especially the Shinkansen (bullet train), moving between these destinations is a breeze, making the Land of the Rising Sun a continuous journey of discovery.
- Known as the “City of Water,” Matsue lies next to Lake Shinji and boasts a rich history.
- Matsue Castle: One of Japan’s few remaining original castles, it offers panoramic views of the city.
- Samurai District: A well-preserved area with former samurai residences open for exploration.
- Shimane Art Museum: Located by Lake Shinji, the museum boasts both impressive art collections and captivating sunset views.
- Located on Kyushu Island, Beppu is renowned for its numerous hot springs and unique geothermal features.
- Hell Tour: Visit the ‘hells’ (jigoku) of Beppu, which are several spectacular hot springs meant for viewing rather than bathing due to their extreme temperatures.
- Takegawara Onsen: A historic bathhouse where you can experience sand baths, where guests are buried in naturally heated sand.
- Kannawa Steam Bath: Relish a steam bath using the geothermal steam rising from the ground.
- As the largest city on Kyushu Island, Fukuoka blends urban living with ancient temples, modern shopping centers, and beaches.
- Canal City Hakata: A large shopping and entertainment complex known for its canal running through the middle.
- Dazaifu Tenmangu: A grand shrine dedicated to a scholar deity, surrounded by serene gardens.
- Yatai: Try local dishes at open-air mobile food stalls scattered around the city.
- A historic city on Kyushu Island marked by its majestic castle and beautiful gardens.
- Kumamoto Castle: Although damaged in a 2016 earthquake, restoration work is ongoing, and certain sections are open for visitors.
- Suizenji Jojuen Garden: A picturesque landscaped garden with a mini representation of the 53 stations of the Tokaido.
- Aso-Kuju National Park: A vast park known for Mount Aso, an active volcano with one of the world’s largest calderas.
- With a complex history, Nagasaki stands as a symbol of peace and resilience.
- Peace Park: Dedicated to the victims of the atomic bomb, the park houses a massive peace statue and the Peace Memorial Hall.
- Glover Garden: An open-air museum offering a glimpse into the city’s international heritage with preserved Western-style homes.
- Dejima: A former Dutch trading post, this island has been transformed into a museum showcasing Nagasaki’s foreign trade history.
- As the capital of Hokkaido, Sapporo offers a blend of urban attractions and close proximity to nature.
- Sapporo Snow Festival: Held in February, this festival is renowned for its colossal snow and ice sculptures.
- Odori Park: A green oasis in the city center, hosting events throughout the year.
- Historic Village of Hokkaido: A vast open-air museum showcasing the region’s architectural evolution.
- Japan’s second-largest city, Yokohama beautifully blends modernity with tradition, not to mention its scenic port setting.
- Minato Mirai: A futuristic waterfront district boasting attractions like the Landmark Tower, Japan’s second tallest building.
- Sankeien Garden: A traditional Japanese-style garden with historical buildings brought from across Japan.
- Yokohama Chinatown: The largest Chinatown in Japan, offering a range of delicious cuisines and vibrant streets.
- Nestled in the mountains to the north of Tokyo, Nikko is renowned for its historically significant temples and beautiful national parks.
- Toshogu Shrine: The lavishly decorated mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.
- Kegon Falls: One of Japan’s highest and most famous waterfalls.
- Lake Chuzenji: A scenic lake, particularly beautiful during the autumn colors.
- Just south of Tokyo, the Izu Peninsula is known for its coastal scenery, hot springs, and panoramic views of Mt. Fuji.
- Shuzenji: A historic hot spring town with lovely temples and bamboo groves.
- Jogasaki Coast: A scenic coastal area with a beautiful suspension bridge.
- Atami: A popular seaside resort town with hot springs and a renowned fireworks festival.
- The host city of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano offers a mix of temples, hot springs, and winter sports.
- Zenko-ji Temple: A significant pilgrimage site with a rich history stretching back 1,400 years.
- Jigokudani Monkey Park: Famous for its large population of wild Japanese macaques that bathe in the park’s natural hot springs.
- Hakuba: A major ski resort area, popular among snow enthusiasts.
- Located at the southern tip of Kyushu, Kagoshima is often referred to as the “Naples of the Eastern world” due to its bay location and the Sakurajima volcano.
- Sakurajima: One of Japan’s most active volcanoes and the city’s iconic backdrop.
- Sengan-en Garden: A traditional Japanese garden with historical residences and beautiful views of Sakurajima.
- Amami Islands: A part of Kagoshima Prefecture, these islands offer pristine beaches, coral reefs, and unique cultural experiences.
- Close to Tokyo, Hakone is a part of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is renowned for its hot springs, natural beauty, and views of Mt. Fuji.
- Hakone Open-Air Museum: A vast outdoor museum showcasing sculptures set against stunning landscapes.
- Lake Ashinoko: A crater lake offering boat rides and views of Mt. Fuji.
- Owakudani: A volcanic area where visitors can enjoy black eggs, boiled in its sultry hot springs, believed to add seven years to one’s life.
source: Tales From Our Pocket on YouTube
Miyajima Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
Miyajima, often referred to as the “Island of the Gods”, is one of those rare places in the world where the realms of the sacred and the natural blend seamlessly. Every corner of this island whispers tales from ages past, where deities, emperors, and commoners alike have sought solace and spiritual connection. As you prepare to either embark on or reflect upon a journey to this ethereal island, there are a few concluding sentiments and recommendations to ponder.
1. The Essence of Miyajima:
Above all, Miyajima is an island of serenity. The Itsukushima Shrine with its iconic floating torii gate is not just a UNESCO World Heritage Site but a testament to Japan’s profound relationship with nature. The gentle ebb and flow of the tide, dictating the appearance of the torii gate, serve as a reminder of the transient beauty of life.
2. A Journey through Time:
Walking through Miyajima’s preserved streets or hiking up Mt. Misen offers a journey through Japan’s rich history. The pagodas, temples, and even the island’s free-roaming deer are a window into a time when nature and spirituality were deeply intertwined.
3. Culinary Delights:
From fresh oysters to Momiji Manju, Miyajima offers culinary experiences that delight both the palate and the soul. Each dish, whether served in a sophisticated restaurant or a street-side stall, carries with it the flavor of the island’s rich marine and cultural bounty.
4. Seasons of Miyajima:
Each season paints Miyajima in different hues. Cherry blossoms in spring, verdant greens in summer, fiery maples in autumn, and a tranquil coolness in winter. If possible, consider revisiting to experience the island’s ever-changing moods.
5. Beyond Sightseeing:
While the landmarks and vistas of Miyajima are breathtaking, the true essence of the island lies in its quieter moments. Take the time to sit by the shore watching the sun set behind the torii gate, or listen to the calming chants from a distant temple. These experiences often leave the most indelible impressions.
6. Sustainable Tourism:
As a place of natural and cultural significance, it’s crucial for visitors to approach Miyajima with respect. This includes being mindful of the environment, respecting the deer and their habitats, and following local customs and guidelines, ensuring the island remains pristine for future generations.
7. Expanding Horizons:
While Miyajima is a microcosm of Japan’s beauty, it’s also a gateway to the broader wonders of the Hiroshima Prefecture and the Seto Inland Sea region. Travelers would do well to explore beyond, from the poignant history of Hiroshima city to the tranquil islands scattered around the sea.
Miyajima isn’t just a destination; it’s an experience, a sentiment, a page out of a timeless tale. It serves as a testament to Japan’s ability to preserve its past while looking to the future. As you step off the ferry and back to the mainland, take a moment to reflect. The sights and sounds of Miyajima, its tranquil forests, sacred temples, and the distant call of a deer, will linger in your heart, beckoning you to return.
Whether you’re planning your first trip or reminiscing about a past visit, Miyajima remains a beacon of Japan’s enduring spirit and beauty. Carry its lessons with you, and let the Island of the Gods inspire your future journeys, both in Japan and beyond. Safe travels.