Hiroshima city is beautiful, but its surrounding is even more captivating. In fact, the side trips from Hiroshima actually become the main highlight for many travelers. One of the side trip destinations that are very popular is Miyajima (宮島). It’s not only famous for its giant torii gate, it also offers a fantastic view point of the ocean at the highest summit. Here’s why you should visit Miyajima.
Visit Miyajima – How To Get There?
An hour away from the city of Hiroshima (Hiroshima Travel Guide), lies one of the most scenic spots in Japan – Miyajima island. It has long been regarded as an Island of Gods.
The best way to get there is by train and ferry. To reach the ferry port from Hiroshima Station, take the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station (25 minutes, 410 yen one way, covered by the Japan Rail Pass). Alternatively, you can take tram line number 2 from central Hiroshima bound for Miyajimaguchi. The tram is slower, but costs only 260 yen one way (not covered by the Japan Rail Pass).
From Miyajimaguchi Station, it is a short walk to the ferry pier, from where ferries depart frequently for Miyajima. The ferry rides take 10 minutes and cost 180 yen one way. The Japan Rail Pass is valid on JR ferries.
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Visit Miyajima – Must See Attractions
Miyajima is most famous for its centuries-old Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社, Itsukushima Jinja). The most iconic sight of the shrine goes to the giant torii gate, which at high tide seems to be floating on the water. This romantic sight is ranked as one of Japan’s three best views, thus drawing a large number of crowds every day.
The shrine complex consists of multiple buildings, including a prayer hall, a main hall and a Noh theater stage, which are connected by boardwalks and supported by pillars above the sea.
As you are taking a stroll, you’ll be delighted to encounter wild deer on the island. These deer are so accustomed to the sight of people that they actually let you pet them.
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Daisho-in (大聖院, Daishōin) is located at the base of Mount Misen. It features a variety of buildings, statues and other religious objects for visitors to admire. These include the Kannon-do Hall, the Maniden Hall, a sand mandala made by visiting monks from Tibet, a tea room and a cave filled with 88 icons representing the temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
PC: Japan Guide
From Daisho-in’s temple grounds, a hiking trail leads to the summit of Mount Misen, where a few more temple halls are located. The ascent takes about 1.5 hours.
PC: Japan Guide
Visit Miyajima – Hiking Mount Misen
Your trip won’t be completed if you give Mount Misen (弥山) a miss. At 500 meters above sea level, Mount Misen is the highest peak on Miyajima. On clear days, you’ll be able to enjoy a spectacular view of the Seto Inland Sea and as far as Hiroshima City. Check out the Hiroshima Travel Guide to see what you can explore in the city.
There are two ways to get to the peak – by rope-way or by foot. Personally, I strongly recommend those who are fit to hike up. Although it’s not an easy climb, the gorgeous views along the way worth every effort. Most importantly, it gives you a sense of exhilaration as you reach the summit.
PC: Japan Guide
There are three hiking trails leading up Misen: the Momijidani Course, the Daisho-in Course and the Omoto Course. Of the three, the Daisho-in Course offers the nicest views and is not as steep as the other two. Using any course, it takes 1.5 to 2 hours to reach the summit from town.
When we got to the summit, it was a perfect timing for sunset. The whole sky turned orange and red as the golden sun descending. Needless to say, it was the best moment of the trip.
If you’re catching sunset at the summit, it’s better for you to take the rope-way back due to safety reasons. After all, you hike all the way up to the peak. It’s time to reward yourself for a relaxing way down.
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Visit Miyajima – Enjoy The Quiet Night
While there are usually many day tourists, in the evening the area becomes much quieter and more peaceful. If you truly want to enjoy the island’s tranquility and beauty, consider spending your night at a Japanese ryokan.
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That’s the highlight of Miyajima island and I hope you can visit Miyajima soon and witness its beauty with your own eyes. Check out the video below to find out more about Miyajima!
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