Miyajima (also known as Itsukushima) is one of the most beautiful places in Japan, and the place I was most looking forward to seeing, because of the beautiful torii in the water, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s an island about half an hour from Hiroshima by train (about 2.5 hours from Kyoto).
I’d completely recommend it if you’re ever in this area of Japan. The view of the island from the boat home, which you can see at the end of the video, will stay with me – the beautiful water, tree-covered mountains, the red of the gate and the pagoda… I definitely left a tiny piece of my heart there.
We went to Hiroshima in the morning and Miyajima in the afternoon as a day trip from Kyoto, but you could easily spend longer in both places.
Things to do in Miyajima
- Itsukishima Shrine – The main attraction is the Japanese torii gate in the water. When the tide’s in it looks like it’s floating, and when the tide goes out you can walk right up to it. The gate is part of Itsukushima Shrine, which is also built on the water. You can the times for high and low tides here, and it’s possible to see it at both high and low tide in the same day. It depends on the day and time of year, but when we went, high tide was between 11am-12 and low tide was around 5-6pm.
- See wild deer – You’ll see lots of wild deer just walking around!
- Street food and snacks – The walk from the ferry port to the shrine is packed with little souvenir and food shops. The snack I tried in the video is a momiji manju, which comes in lots of different flavours. It’s in the shape of a maple leaf, which is a symbol of the Hiroshima area – the Hiroshima sightseeing bus is called the Meipuru-puru (maple) and the Momijidani Park on the island has lots of beautiful maple trees, which I’ve heard look amazing in the autumn.
- Momijidani Park – You can easily walk to the park from the shrine, and there are some absolutely beautiful Japanese bridges, streams and views, along with lots of maple trees. Even without the autumn colours it was stunning.
- Mount Misen ropeway – Probably the best ropeway I’ve been on! It’s really quite long, with great views of the mountain as you go up. You can hike up or down, but be warned, Mount Misen is bigger than it looks. I went at the start of October and it was way too hot and humid to attempt it. Once you get to the top of the mountain there are trails to explore, with shrines and small buildings (if you don’t freak out about the insects like I did…). You can get a single or return ticket for the ropeway (return ticket recommended!).
- Historic streets – We didn’t make it that far, but there are preserved, historic streets if you want to see old Japanese houses.
There’s a good pdf guide map in english, with useful walking times between the sights.
How to Get to Miyajima
From Hiroshima Station, take the JR Sanyo line to Miyajima-Guchi. It’s every 10-15 minutes, and takes half an hour. Then follow the signs through the subway, and take the ferry across to the island. There are two ferries and only one is included in JR Passes – as you can see in the video it’s clearly signposted. The ferry runs every 15 minutes and takes 10 minutes to cross.
It’s also possible to get a boat from Hiroshima to Miyajima (not included in your JR Pass).
Read my previous post for how to get from Kyoto to Hiroshima. You can absolutely do this as a day trip if you get up early-ish.
You can also spend the night on the island, in one of the hotels or ryokans, which I’ve heard is really lovely – watching the sun set and then enjoying the island after most of the tourists have gone home.
More Japan Videos
There are lots more Japan videos on Cakes with Faces’ YouTube channel, and lots more to come! There are a few more from Kyoto, then we’ll be moving on to Tokyo. Subscribe to watch them all – remember to click the bell for notifications.