With a belly full of Okonomiyaki on a snowy night, we discussed if the day trip to Miyajima was doable? And that floating Tori was worth our day. Or should we head to a nearby gorge?
Somehow, Miyajima won the discussion and thank god it did! This little island Miyajima, just off the coast of Hiroshima, is a strong contender for the highlight of our Japan trip. Because. The vibe and views come as a great combo with the breeze from the ocean, and it was way beyond just the Tori gate.
Let me tell you how to make a perfect day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima and show you some hidden gems that only a few tourists visit.
- Why Visit Miyajima?
- How to get to and around Miyajima?
- How many Days and the best time to go?
- Best things to do here.
- Best Places to eat
- A thing not to do in Miyajima.
Is Miyajima island worth visiting?
Yes, to the power of infinity! I don’t know why many tourists who come to Hiroshima skip Miyajima. Because it is one of the unique places in all of Japan.
If you had been to Kyoto, you would have had your dose of beautiful shrines and temples. But was any of these shrine’s Toris floated on the sea? That Tori you see at Miyajima floats during high tide. But when it is low tide, you can touch the Tori almost!
What island near Hiroshima has deer?
You may have met deers who bow to you to get some cookies from you at Nara. But have you met deers who bask on the sands of an ocean on the island Miyajima near Hiroshima.
That view of Tokyo bay felt like a land from the future. But how would it be to gaze at the sea with a towering pagoda next to it and hear the dong of a temple bell simultaneously?
So a day trip to Miyajima isand is absolutely worth it!
Why is Miyajima famous?
The first image on your google search result for Miyajima island is the Itsukushima shrine – The floating Tori. This shrine is worth all the hype for obvious and right reasons. As much as we both loved sitting on the sands of Seto Inland Sea and watching the Tori gate, we equally loved wandering in the town. There is another shrine that has hundreds of lanterns hung from the ceiling.
Miyajima is also famous for its maple leaf-shaped sweet dish. The island is full of deer – they are everywhere, unafraid of humans. They own the island, actually. Basically, this small isnad has many famous things.
What type of place is Miyajima?
The best thing about Miyajima is its laid-back atmosphere. Despite being a popular tourist destination, the island has managed to maintain a relaxed, easy-going vibe that makes it feel like a true escape from a busy city.
Especially after visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which wrenched our hearts completely, we wanted to be soaked in the sense of peace and tranquillity. A trip to Miyajima island did exactly that to us.
How to get to Miyajima.
The nearest airport and railway station to Miyajima island is Hiroshima. Getting to Hiroshima by bullet train from other parts of the city is super easy. So once you arrive at Hiroshima, you must take a ferry to Miyajima.
How to take a ferry from Hiroshima to Miyajima on a day trip.
Two types of ferries can take you from Hiroshima to Miyajima island.
Those who don’t own a JR Pass :
Take the direct boat run by Aqua Net Hiroshima Co. Ltd. that leaves from Hiroshima peace memorial park. The 45-minute journey costs you more than 2000 yen. They even have a variety of cruises that take you when the floating Tori is lit after sunset. However, as the boat is run by a private company, JR Pass doesn’t cover the cost.
Travel to Miyajima from Hiroshima using JR Pass.
If you have an active JR Pass, your trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima can cost you zero yen!
Take the JR Sanyo line from Hiroshima station to Miyajimaguchi Station ( Journey takes around 30 minutes). From Miyajimaguchi Station, a 5-minute walk takes you to the ferry pier. You see two ferry company boards here. JR and Masudai.
Take JR Ferrry, as Matsudai is not covered in your JR pass. Within five minutes after the journey, you see that spot of your dreams – Floating Tori gate flaunts itself in the shining water. Within 10 minutes, you land at Miyajima!
Heads up: Don’t take tram line number 2 from central Hiroshima bound for Miyajimaguchi ferry port. It isn’t covered under JR Pass.
How do you get around on Miyajima island?
Miyajima Island is relatively small, and getting around on foot is easy. Most of the island’s main attractions are within walking distance of each other, so you can easily explore the island on foot, and it is super fun. Because you keep meeting furry deers who walk like they were on a fashion show ramp.
However, if you prefer not to walk, rent a bicycle. Several bicycle rental shops are located near the ferry terminal, and you can rent a bike for a few hours or the entire day.
There is a ropeway to get to the top of Mount Misen. The ropeway station is a short walk from the ferry terminal, and it’s a great way to enjoy the island’s stunning views from above.
Finally, local buses also run between the ferry terminal and various parts of the island. The buses are relatively infrequent, but they are an option if you don’t want to walk or cycle – We hardly saw these buses during our day trip to Hiroshima.
How long to spend on Miyajima?
We recommend spending at least a full day on the island to fully explore and appreciate all it offers.
Seeing Tori during low and high tides is a different experience. You can’t savour Miyajima unless you walk around the town. So spend one whole day to get the best of your Miyajima trip.
Can you do Hiroshima and Miyajima in one day?
Anything can be done in this world, but there is no point in rushing. Hiroshima peace memorial park and the city’s cafes need one whole day. So don’t rush and visit Hiroshima-Miyajima on the same day.
Is it worth staying in Miyajima?
It is based solely on our experience – Staying in Miyajima isn’t worth it. The town shuts immediately after sunset. There were hardly any cafes open post 5.30PM in December. It felt like an abandoned island! I am a small-town lover.
But this much emptiness, especially in December, didn’t make me re-think if I should have stayed overnight in Miyajima instead of making a day trip from Hiroshima.
Most tourists we met that day were making a day trip. However, some arrived later in the evening to stay overnight. Unfortunately, the island has limited accommodation options, so the prices are higher.
If you decide to stay overnight in Miyajima, I recommend
- Hotel Miyajima Villa – Expensive, but beautiful.
- Sakuraya – Midrange seaside rooms.
When to go to Miyajima Island?
October to December first week is the ideal time to visit Miyajima. The place may not be as famous as Osaka or Kyoto. But it does receive a large number of people. Through March to May, with Sakuras all over, it can be a nice time to visit, as the prices of everything will be higher. And the place can be crowded.
We were there on December 3rd week. Wearing enough layers and our favourite heat pads, we had a chilly yet sunny awesome day at Miyajima with only a few tourists on the island.
Should I go to Miyajima in the morning or evening?
I am an early bird. And nothing is better than seeing the glittering sea early in the morning. So take the first or second ferry in the morning. And come back only after it is dark.
What are three famous things you can see at the Miyajima?
This is the most asked question online. My answer is: visiting Itsukushima Shrine, tasting oysters and other street food, plus hiking.
But once you arrive at Miyajima and visit the tourist information centre to collect your map, you will realise there is much more than these three things to do! One of our aims was to hike to the top of Misen mountain. Thanks to the rain for ruining our plan.
So here goes the list of best things to do during a day trip to Miyajima island
1. Take a walk along the shore.
A walk on the beach is a good idea in any location. The walk becomes more beautiful when it comes with a floating tori on one side and some deer walking beside you. Call me obsessed with the Tori of Miyajima. But it is fantastic to view it from different angles.
Often, we tend to go on ticking “to-do” list. So Miyajima’s shore is a perfect place to listen to the music of waves crashing on the white sand shore and let go of that list. With those stone lanterns, trees shading the shore bund, and smaller temples beside the shore – You can find your corner away from the crowd just to unwind at Miyajima when you walk on the beach.
Can you swim in Miyajima?
You may be able to dip yourslef in sea during summer. But it was impossible to even remove my parka jacket in December.
2. Spend time at Itsukushima Shrine.
The floating Tori of Itsukushima steals the show. But this 1400-year-old UNESCO Heritage isn’t any less ethereal. The bright saffron facade, open wooden decks, and hundreds of wooden rafters on the roof create magic
What is Itsukushima Shrine famous for?
Itsukushima Shrine’s corridors open to the oceanside, and the cold breeze from the ocean hits you throughout your walk to the heart of the shrine. The other side is the forest and gardens! So you can call it a shrine built on the ocean beside a forest!
What is unusual about Japan’s Itsukushima Shrine?
One of the most unusual features of Japan’s Itsukushima Shrine is that it is built on stilts over the sea, making it appear as if it is floating on water during high tide.
Once the waves return during low tide, you can walk next to the deck on the Intertidal zones. There is no tide pool here. So you step on the wet sand.
How much does it cost to visit Itsukushima Shrine?
The Tori on the sea doesn’t cost you anything. But they charge around 300 yen per adult to enter the shrine, where you can walk on the wooden decks facing the seaside.
3. Take a peak inside Miyajima Public Aquarium.
Okay, first of all, a trip to Miyajima was a spontaneous idea. Visiting the public aquarium here is totally a last-minute plan to escape the pouring rain in December. On our way to the hiking trail to the Misen mountain, the wind grew stronger, and it began to pour. To save ourselves, we ran to a nearby building only to realise it was an aquarium!
How much is the entrance fess to Miyajima Public Aquarium?
In December 2023, we paid 1420 yen per adult. The aquarium also has a locker room where you deposit 100 yen and can get it back while collecting the luggage.
What is special about Miyajima aquarium?
We were also sceptical and didn’t expect anything out of it. But this place came as a huge surprise. The aquarium exhibits around 13,000 fish and marine mammals OF 350 species, focusing on the creatures living in the Seto Inland Sea.
There are several weird-looking marine creatures, including “Horse Shoe Crab”, – A scary-looking creature whose species dates back to older than dinosaurs.
Then in one of the huge galleries, some sharks swim with angry faces. To ease that scary face, cute and giant ray fish slide looking like they are smiling! That huge glass cubicle on the second floor is called” Sea of healing” and “Blessings of the sea” – They do justice to it. Seeing a group of kaleidoscopic creatures swim and glide in the water is soothing.
Wait there is more!
River Otters in a separate space play so well that you feel like cuddling them.
You can watch a group of adorable penguins waddle through the aquarium, stopping to say hello to anyone crossing their path. It’s like a real-life version of Happy Feet! It is saddening to see how we humans lock a species that would be roaming and swimming by the vast ocean. But, it was a good opportunity for people like us who can’t afford to go to Antarctica to see penguins.
And we saw them mating!
4. Visit Daisho-in Temple.
When in Japan, you would visit mannnnyyyy temples. Most of them are similar to the others in their physical appearance. But holds different religious importance. Then there are some shrines like Fushimi Inari with hundreds of Toris and Yasaka Koshindo that got thousands of “Fabric wish balls” hung around the deity statues. Until I went to Daisho-in temple, I thought I had seen my fair share of unusual and beautiful temples in Japan. I was so wrong!
Welcome to Daisho in, -“The Baap of all Japanese Temples”
Located partially on the hill, 900m from the famous Tori gate of Miyajima island, Daisho-in a place of beauty, surprise, mesmerising views and spiritual energy. The easy hike along the slope itself is refreshing. After the first flight of steps, don’t forget to ring the “Bonsho” bell and turn to see the sight of Miyajima island.
At this spot, you will almost fall in love with the place. If you are tired from the uphill hike, you will feel – “It is worth it.”
Then there are many usual Buddhist shrines here. But what makes Daisho-in unusually beautiful are those tiny statues scattered along the path. So now, you find the place cute.
The “WOW” factor of Daisho-in temple
As you continue climbing further up, you see a not-so-impressive facade. But you must enter it – Because you enter the 4th dimension once you get inside!
You are in the dark full of thousands of lanterns in the ceiling. Call it the spiritual heaven or a 4th dimension from stranger things- This place won’t disappoint you. You see dozens of Buddha statues.
The warm light from the lantern lights the dark room perfectly to take you to a spiritual mode. Of course, a visitor or two may come there to take a selfie. But you know, the series of steps to the temple discourage many tourists. So this place won’t get crowded.
Japan’s domestic tourists take their selfies in quiet and leave immediately. So if you are a person who wants to meditate or just sit there to get rid of your tiredness – Daisho in the temple’s lantern room is the ultimate place. You can easily spend an hour here!
The temple surprise Saga continues
After soaking in the lantern world, we started to go down. This time, we turned right after the temple bell to go through a garden full of at least 1000 Buddha statues!
You’ll find everything from the traditional Buddha statues to the more unusual (and slightly terrifying) statues of demons and dragons.
Daisho in the temple is a place of spirituality, unusualness, surreal view, and cuteness and perhaps the best place in Miyajima island!
Do you need to book in advance to visit Daishoin Temple?
No! Unless you opt for a religious service, you can walk in, and entry is free.
5. Eat a lot of Miyajima Streetfood.
What do you expect from an island – A lot of breezes, the sound of waves and seafood! That is why Miyajima is famous for oysters!
Why Miyajima Oysters are good?
Ashrith says that the oyster was sweet and salty!
Traditionally they roast them on a woodfire in Miyajima. So it even gave it a smoky flavour. When we asked the cook at the cafe, he said Miyajiam’s water is rich in nutrients. It provides the oyster with the ideal condition to grow and develop rich and deep flavour.
So I got my answer to why Miyajima oysters are larger than usual. Farmers meticulously monitor the oysters’ growth and quality and hand-select each for harvesting.
So your next question is – What can vegetarians eat in Miyajima?
Japan’s sweet dishes are called Wagashi. And Miyajima’s red bean paste cookies are delicious heaven for vegetarians.
What is the famous sweet called in Miyajima?
Miyajima’s Wagashi is called Manjyu. It comes in a maple leaf shape and is made of flour, sugar and azuki bean paste.
Some old Miyajima shops even have their cooking set up enclosed in a glass chamber. So that we tourists can watch how the soft and spongy dough gets moulded into maple leaf, how some machines fill red bean paste and how elegantly these soft cookies glide into the steamer.
6. Explore Machiya Streets
Machiya streets are traditional Japanese streets lined with traditional wooden townhouses known as machiya.
Miyajima Island has several Machiya streets, including Omotesando Street, which is dumped with souvenir shops now.
Takino-Ko-Jo Street, which you cross while hiking to Dasho-in and is beautiful) These streets are lined with well-preserved traditional Japanese townhouses that date back to the Edo period (the 1600s to 1860s).
Do people live on Miyajima?
After talking about everything “touristy” about Miyajima, many tend to ask if non-tourists live a regular life on Miyajima. The answer is Yes!
The traditional wooden buildings are adorned with latticework and paper lanterns, and the streets are lined with stone pathways and quaint shops selling local handicrafts, souvenirs, and snacks. So wandering in these streets should be added to your Miyajima trip plan beyond tourist interests places.
Best Places to eat on Miyajima island.
Miyajima wasn’t as cheap as Matsubara-Dori of Kyoto. But it isn’t expensi either. So we did try some local food at various places.
- Miyajima Hanayashiki – For roasted Oysters. They are a small cafe with a souvenir store. The cook is friendly, and you can bug him with your questions about Oysters!
- Iwamura Momijiya – We have tried Manju at three different places. Nobody could match the freshness and taste of Iwamura Momijiya.
- Restaurant Omoto – Good for set meals and breakfast for non-vegetarians after a long hike. It is located near Miyajima Public Aquarium.
- Starbucks – Why to go to Starbucks in Japan, you may ask! It is one of the cheapest places to eat in drink in Japan. The Miyajima Starbucks, with a deck on the upper floor, gives an awesome view. And for vegetarians, apart from Manju, Starbucks can be a saviour. Try their Matcha flavoured cakes and yoghurt.
Things not to do in Miyajima
Don’t feed the deer at Miyajima. They are wild and aren’t friendly. Unlike Nara’s deer, they shouldn’t be fed with cookies. Some deers may approach you to eat paper from your hands (like the map you holding) and even your scarves. So be cautious about it. They are unafraid of humans but aren’t friendly. You don’t want to feed them with cookies and end up being a reason for their death by choking. Right?
Did you love our Miyajima day trip stories? Let us know in the comment section below.
Heads up – we are very honest and keep it no secret.
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