Miyajima is the most frequently given name to Itsukushima island, located in Hiroshima bay and oriented towards the Inland Seto Sea. Ranked as one of the most beautiful sites of Japan, especially thanks to its torii and its floating Shinto shrine, this sacred island is a big tourist spot of the archipelago.
Located off the coast of Hiroshima, this little island possesses one of the most beautiful views of Japan (Nihon Sankei) according to the confucian philosopher Razan: the floating torii of Itsukushima shrine, built in the sand, is a World Heritage Site. It is famous for undergoing without limits the sea tides since its creation.
Sacred island of shintoism, Miyajima knows specific rules: it is forbidden to give birth, to die or to kill one of its trees on the island. Thereby the mount Misen, loved by hikers, is surrounded by a luxurious forest whose red maples are particularly beautiful in fall season. They are spread all around Miyajima park where we can observe about five hundred deers roaming free around the island.
Accessing to Miyajima is very easy and facilitated by the presence of Hiroshima on the other side of the bay. From the city, several companies will bring you to the island; some ferries even lead you there from the Bomb-A memorial park.
The island is relatively small and the paths are very marked out. At the exit of the marine station, tourists are oriented to a half-walkable street bordered by souvenirs stores. From there, several attractions and visits are accessible depending on the dedicated time you have for them.
Some visitors choose to spend one night on the island, in one of its few hotels or expensive ryokan, to live the experience even more intensively. At night, the place is empty from tourists, and you can feel a much more authentic atmosphere, enjoying the view on the bay. During early morning, when the first ferries have not yet brought the first flow of tourists, the light also offers a beautiful slice of serenity.
Miyajima has several specialties, notably the “Momiji-manju” (a cake with maple leaves filling), cooked oysters or rice spatula.
How to get to Miyajima
Several boats make the connection between Hiroshima and Miyajima.
With a Japan Rail Pass -- Go to Miyajimaguchi (27 minutes westward, departures about every 15 minutes) where the JR ferry crosses the bay in about 10 minutes.
Without pass -- Other companies do the boat ride from Hiroshima port or the Peace park, but these are longer and more expensive (about ¥2,000 / ~US$ 18.50 one-way).
Location reachable with the JRP : order your Japan Rail Pass (from ~US$ 278)
Ryokans and hotels are expensive: not less than ¥10,000 (~US$ 92.60) for a correct room
Besides, Hiroshima offers good accommodation for just over ¥3,000 (~US$ 27.80)
Ferries every 15 minutes from 6am to about 10pm
How long / when to visit
If you have a choice, plan your stay in Miyajima under good weather:
- half a day onsite is not enough
- in one day you have to select visits
- allow two days to see a more complete and in depth tour
Spending a night on the island is expensive but magical