Today I'll be providing you with the perfect one day trip itinerary for Miyajima in Hiroshima. As you may already know, the island is well-known for its floating torii gate, wild deer, and delicious oysters. Access to Miyajima from the mainland is only available by ferry. Tickets for the ferry to Miyajima can be purchased at the JR ferry terminal after alighting at Miyajimaguchi station (train) or Hiroden-Miyajimaguchi station (streetcar). Visitors with a valid Japan Rail Pass can ride the ferry to and from Miyajima for free.
Miyajima is not only popular with foreign tourists, but it is also hugely popular with domestic tourists. I recommend visiting during spring or autumn when the weather is perfect for wandering the island, and the island comes alive with the colors of the seasons. I timed my most recent visit with the changing of the leaves in autumn (fall), and was blessed with great weather on the day of my visit. Let's take a look at some of my recommendations for a one day trip to Miyajima.
Miyajima Omotesando Shotengai
After alighting the ferry at Miyajima, turn right and follow the crowd. Most people will be heading toward the undercover arcade just a few minutes away. This area is basically a shopping street with cafes, restaurants, and souvenir shops. I like to stop by here as soon as I arrive to grab a bite to eat before exploring the rest of the island. Many places offer a sit down option for lunch or snacks, but some of the smaller stalls only offer take-out options, especially for the smaller, cheaper items.
As I mentioned before, Miyajima (and actually, the Hiroshima area in general) is well-known for oysters, so of course you can find many shops in this arcade serving up all kinds of oyster dishes. I had an amazing oyster lunch here and then continued on my way to Momijidani Park and Shishiiwa Observatory, which I'll talk about soon! I stopped by the arcade again later in the day for some snacks and to buy some souvenirs before heading back towards the ferry.
Pictured: Miyajima Omotesando Shotengai, stores, oyster lunch set, momiji manju.
Click on any image in this post to expand.
Senjokaku Hall (千畳閣) & Toyokuni Shrine (Five Story Pagoda)
Senjokaku is a large building spanning the space of 1000 tatami mats, it's name literally meaning "hall of 1000 tatami mats." There are no actual tatami mats in the building today, but instead you'll be greeted with the most amazing wooden floorboards. The building of Senjokaku was commissioned by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1587, but when he died in 1598 construction of the building stopped soon after and was never fully completed.
I personally love the sparseness of Senjokaku with its open spaces, large wooden floorboards, and magical views out over Miyajima. It's the best place to get a view of Toyokuni Shrine (the 5 story pagoda), and a great place to catch some autumn leaves or cherry blossoms, depending on the time of year.
Momijidani is perhaps the most well known and most visited park on Miyajima. If you plan to take the ropeway up to the top of Mt Misen to Shishiiwa Observatory then you'll very likely walk through this park. It's a fantastic spot to admire the Japanese maple leaves changing color, and if you're lucky you might even be able to catch some Miyajima deer posing for a photo.
From Momojidani Park keep walking uphill to get to the Miyajima Ropeway.
Miyajima Ropeway/Shishiiwa Observatory
Shishiiwa Observatory offers the most stunning views from the top of Mount Misen. You should be able to follow the signs to the ropeway quite easily. Once you're part of the way up the mountain you'll reach Kayatani Station, where you need to switch to another ropeway to get up to the top of the mountain. The cost of the second ropeway is included in the original ticket cost (around 2000 yen round trip.)
Once you're at Shishiiwa Observatory you'll be able to enjoy the expansive view over the Seto Inland Sea. If you're feeling up for it, you can hike to the actual peak of Mount Misen from here without too much trouble, but it does require some comfortable shoes and perhaps a bottle of water. The path gets quite steep at times, so caution is advised. In addition, be sure to keep track of the time, as you don't want to miss the last ropeway down the mountain!
If you're an experienced hiker, there are three hiking tracks that lead from the base of the mountain up to the summit. This might be a good idea if you're on a budget, after some adventure, and have a reasonable level of fitness. Please be sure to check the weather beforehand, and take proper safety precautions.
This is Miyajima's very own craft beer, brewed right on the island. The bar/restaurant is located in the shopping arcade and spans the first and third floors, with local dishes available during lunch and dinner times. The first floor was really busy on the day of my visit, so I was seated on the third floor which had an amazing view out over the beach.
Miyajima Brewery serves up some traditional beers such as IPA, wiezen, oyster stout, etc., as well as limited edition brews and collaborations. I didn't order any food on this visit, but I really enjoyed this beer tasting set which cost around 1,100 yen for three small beers.
The Miyajima Brewery is definitely a must visit for any beer lovers and a great spot to rest your legs after a long day.
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Itsukushima Shrine includes the 'floating' torii gate that the island is famous for, in addition to the complex seen in the photos. As you may have noticed, the Miyajima torii gate and shrine don't actually float in the ocean, however once the water reaches high tide it gives the illusion that the shrine and torii gate are floating. It provides a great photo opportunity, especially if the water is calm enough to capture a nice reflection.
Unfortunately during my visit the famous torii gate was under renovation, so I don't have any photos to share, but here you can see the renovation scaffolding covering the structure. During low tide it's permitted to walk up to the torii gate to admire it from up close, while during high tide if you want to get close you'll need to book and pay for a boat tour. I personally think its beautiful in both high and low tide.
Entry to Itsukishima Shrine itself will require a small fee (300 yen for adults, less for children.) In all my time in Japan I've never come across a shrine like this anywhere else, and I personally think the entry fee is extremely reasonable when considering the likely maintenance costs.
Cutest ice-cream on the island
This matcha green tea ice-cream was too cute not to include. I bought it at a little store opposite the ferry, although the name of the store escapes me and I can't quite locate it on Google Maps. If I manage to find the store name and address I'll be sure to update this post with the information.
It was very delicious and extremely cute!
The weather on Miyajima is generally the same as the weather in Hiroshima city. Expect summers to be extremely hot and humid (~25-35°C but actually feels much hotter), with little to no relief from the heat. Winters in Hiroshima can get cold (~1-10°C), although if you're visiting Japan from northern Europe or northern US areas, winters in Hiroshima will likely feel quite mild!
The best time to visit Hiroshima is during spring and autumn when the weather is much more comfortable. Visiting during these times will also allow you to see the cherry blossoms and autumn leaves, depending on your timing.
Be aware that the temperature seen in most weather programs, websites and apps does not take into account the "real feel" temperature. What looks like a balmy 32 degree day may very well turn out to be a 42 degree day once humidity is taken into consideration. Always be sure to check the "real feel" temperature if possible. To avoid dehydration during summer many people swear by Pocari Sweat and Aquarius, both of which are drinks containing electrolytes. These drinks can be found in most convenience stores and drink vending machines.
I hope this post is helpful for planning your one day trip to Miyajima. It is definitely possible to visit all of these sites on a day trip from Hiroshima city, which is exactly what I did on my most recent trip. However, if you want to take it slowly and enjoy as much of the island as possible there are some hotels and ryokans (traditional Japanese lodging) available on the island. Both Agoda and Booking.com have rooms to suit most price ranges.
For anyone wondering how to best incorporate Miyajima into their Japan travel itinerary, take a look at this helpful itinerary for first time visitors to Japan. It covers many of Japan's biggest sites in 17 days.
If you want to explore a lesser known destination in Hiroshima I highly recommend visiting the seaside town of Onomichi in Hiroshima prefecture. I have a handy Itinerary for Onomichi up on my site that includes plenty of insider tips (I used to live there!)
Recommendations for booking accommodation, day trip tours and related travel needs.
Reviews (restaurants, accommodation, local attractions etc.): TripAdvisor.com
Travel Insurance: VisitorsCoverage.com
Learn the lingo before you go: italki.com
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