Visit Miyajima

For a first stop in Japan I trully recommend to visit Miyajima island. Called Itsukushima too, it’s one of the three most beautiful scenic spots in Japan, among Amanohashidate and Matsushima.

Miyajima means the island of the altar. Consequency, it hosts one of the holiest places of the Shinto religion, the Itsukushima Shrine. Also, if you ever dreamed of taking your own postcard picture with the big torii on the water, this is the right place for it!

I visited this island as a day trip from Hiroshima as it was very convenient. You can take the train and the ferry as I did, or you can chose the ferry from the city to take you straight. The second option is more expensive and takes more time, so it’s up to you.

Even if Miyajima is a small island, about 30 square kilometers, there are plenty of things to do. My only regret at the end of the day was for not spending the night there and stay one more day. Now, let me tell you what made my visit to Miyajima so special and can make yours too.

Itsukushima Shrine

The main reason you should visit Miyajima is for its main attraction, the Itsukushima Shrine. It was built in 593 and rebuilt in 1168 by Taira-no-Kiyomori. The long corridors of 280 meters built above the water, make this scenary a piece of fairytail. When you will see its beautiful reflections of the vivid vermilion-laquered in the sea, you will have no doubt why it’s part of the Unesco World Heritage.

In front the shrine it stands the O-torii, the big gate. It is 16 meters tall, making it one of the biggest wooden torii gates in the country and one of the most popular images of Japan.

Hokoku-Shrine, Senjokaku

Part of Itsukushima Shrine, this hall has been built by the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The scope was for chanting the Buddhist sutras every month. It is commonly knows as the hall of the one thousand tatami mats, but in fact are only 450. It is a nice place for taking a break and enjoy the silence.

Five-story Pagoda

This pagoda is located near Hokoku-shrine. It is an important cultural property and its beauty makes it as one of the most photographed places on the island. You cannot visit it inside.

Daisho-in Temple

One of my favourite temples in Japan, Daisho-in looks like a farytale. Its buildings, spread all over the hill, gives you an amazing view over the island and the sea. Apart from this, the temple is one of the most prestigious Shingon temples in this part of Japan. Even the Eperor Meiji honored the temple by staying here in 1885.

There are so many things you can visit inside this temple, from a variety of halls, a tea room, gates, statues, gardens and so on. My favourite part was the Hen Jyokutsu cave. Inside you can see Buddhist icons from eighty-eight temples of prestigious pilgrimage places on Shikoku. It is said the workshippers will receive the same blessing here, as going to all places.

Miyajima History and Folklore Museum

This museum is built into the house of the Egamai family, wealthy merchants of the past. Inside the museum are many artefacts related to Miyajima island, the history, traditions and its culture. It has a beautiful garden inside.


The entire island is like a big green park, but are a few conventional parks too. Omoto Park is located in the East of the island and from here you can start one of the trails towards the top of the mountain. The other one I visited was the Momijidani Park from where you can take the cable car to the top. In both parks you will be able to see many deers, in a more natural habitate as we are used to imagine them – contrary to the hundreds of them walking through the city streets to meet the tourists.

Mount Misen

I didn’t choose to take the cable car to the top, as I did want to spend my time enjoying the nature, what I would recommend you to do too. There are several trails to guide you to the top. For example, I walked from the Mojidani Park and I came back on the other side towards Oomoto Park, to do a circle.

The nature is absolutely beautiful. I met only a few people on the way, so it was nothing more than the sound of the forest and its beings. There is a small river going through the forest, small waterfalls, bridges, not to speak about all the deers you will meet among your way. You can also see monkeys, but thanks God I didn’t met any. I had several bad experiences with them in the past. So as much as I love them, I started to get scared when I see one approaching me.

Once you reach the top, there is the Mount Misen Observatory with a splendid view around from 535 meters above see level. Around the pick are severeal rocks with interesting shapes and a few temple halls. The Reikado-hall hosts a flame which is burning for 1200 years. It was initiated by a buddhist monk during a religious initiation and has been kept all over time. It is said the water boiled by this fire is holly.

I enjoyed this hikking so much, as I do recommend it as a must for everybody’s visit to Miyajima. You can feel so close to the nature, so much peace and equilibrium with the nature. In the end, will be hard to leave and go back to the busy life.

Streets of Miyajima

The city centre is defined by the Omotesando shopping Street Arcade. Here you can find restaurants serving fresh oysters, traditional sweets – momiji manju and wooden crafts souvenirs. Take the time to try them all!

That’s all!

I hope you will visit Miyajima in person to enjoy all its beauties. Meanwhile, you can read more about places to see across Japan here.

3 thoughts on “Visit Miyajima

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