Last Updated on June 14, 2020 by queenie mak
Situated in Hiroshima Prefecture, Miyajima Island is easily accessible from Hiroshima as a day trip. The small island is known for the giant Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate, that appears to be floating on water and Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
A full day Miyajima itinerary includes wandering around the island, visiting historical temples, climbing Mount Misen for a panoramic view of Seto Inland Sea, and sampling delicious local cuisine that is only available on Miyajima Island. And you may see a handful of wild deers roaming freely; don’t be afraid, they are harmless and friendly!
I spent seven weeks in Japan, and the only things I wanted to see was Yayoi Kusama’s Yellow Pumpkin in Naoshima, Teshima Art Museum in Teshima and Miyajima. I can say without a doubt that Miyajima was a highlight of my solo trip to Japan. So if you are travelling alone in Japan, make sure to include Miyajima in your itinerary.
Related Post – Japan one month itinerary: from Tokyo to Hiroshima
What you need to know before visiting Miyajima Island Japan
Before you take a day trip to Miyajima, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of information including how to get around Japan and other travel tips.
Here are additional travel tips that you may find useful for spending a day in Miyajima:
- Walking is the best way to see Miyajima
- ICOCA is the prepaid IC card for Hiroshima Prefecture. It is a rechargeable smartcard where you can take public transportation including bus, train and etc. You can use it for the JR Train from Hiroshima to Miyajima and the JR West Miyajima Ferry.
- You can see all the attractions in Miyajima in 1 day
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How to get to Miyajima from Hiroshima
It is easy to travel from Hiroshima to Miyajima. The journey includes a train and a ferry. From Hiroshima Station, take the local train to Miyajimaguchi Station and then take the Miyajima island ferry.
From Hiroshima to Miyajima
- JR San-yo Line Train: from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi Station
- Time: 27 minutes
- Cost: ¥410
- Check Hyperdia for schedules and fares
- JR West Miyajima Ferry or Miyajima Matsudai Ferry: from Miyajimaguchi Port to Itsukushima Ferry Terminal
- Time: 10 minutes (every 15 minutes)
- Cost: ¥180 (JR West Miyajima Ferry covered by JR Pass)
- Check Miyajima ferry timetable here
Where to stay in Miyajima
Although staying overnight in Miyajima is not required as the island is quite small and you can see everything in one day, but Miyajima has some of Japan’s best ryokans (traditional Japanese inn with tatami-matted rooms). Some ryokans include meals, and almost all of them have a traditional Japanese spa. The entire experience of staying in a traditional Japanese ryokan in Miyajima is quite extraordinary!
Here are some ryokans in Miyajima that are worth trying:
- Auberge Mizuhaso ($$$) – Get a beautiful Japanese style room with modern decor in the small cozy hotel. Close to Miyajima History and Folk Museum.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Hotel Miyajima Villa ($$$) – Stay in one of the modern contemporary rooms in the popular hotel. The hotel is close to the Itsukushima Ferry Terminal and has a traditional Japanese hot spring bath. Bike rental is also available.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Miyajima Morinoyado Inn ($$$) – Get a Japanese-style superior room where the room is a sitting room and converts into a bedroom where you sleep on a mattress on tatami mats. Price includes breakfast and the use of Japanese hot spring facilities.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
What to eat in Miyajima
Local Miyajima cuisine is exceptional! And you can smell the seafood goodness from the restaurants where they grill oysters at the storefront. So bring your empty stomach because you will want to try everything!
You might want to try some (or all) of these local specialities during your Miyajima day trip:
- Miyajima Oysters – big, juicy oysters directly from the Seto Inland Sea. The region is known for its delicious seafood! Try oysters either grilled, deep-fried, raw, or marinated in oil.
- Anago Meshi – grilled conger eel smoked over a charcoal grill served over rice. Many restaurants will serve a variety of eel and rice in Miyajima.
- Fried Fishcake – a popular snack in Miyajima. Some shops will make the fishcake in the shape of a Japanese maple leaf.
- Momiji Manju – a small cake shaped in a Japanese maple leaf with different fillings. The filling is typically a red bean paste, but you will find all kinds of fillings like matcha, chocolate, custard and more. Some shops have a deep-fried version.
Where to eat in Miyajima
There are many restaurants along Omotesando Shopping Street. But be aware of restaurant hours of operation. Many of them open early and close around 5 or 6. If you are staying overnight in Miyajima, there are a few restaurants open on the main street. Check the hours of operations beforehand.
- Momijido ($) – the food vendor sells deep-fried momiji manju on a stick. You can get different kinds of ice cream here too!
- Yamadaya ($) – a small shop selling traditional momiji manju in many flavours including matcha, red bean, lemon, chestnut, chocolate, etc. A great place to buy all your souvenirs!
- Fried Fishcake($) – the shop sells deep-fried fishcake shaped in Japanese maple leaf! I haven’t seen it anywhere else in Japan.
- Kakiya ($$) – a Michelin Guide recommended restaurant serves all kinds of Japanese oysters. You can get a set meal with oysters prepared in many ways (grilled, deep-fried, and oil-marinated). The restaurant opens until 5:00 pm or until they run out of oysters.
- Shibaisaryo Mizhua ($$) – try one of the set meals like the eel with rice. They sourced all the food from nearby Miyajima waters, so everything is fresh. The restaurant was originally a teahouse and the building is over 300 years old. English menu is available and an excellent place for vegetarians as well.
- Miyajima Coffee ($) – there’s no shortage of good coffee in Miyajima! This little coffee shop has excellent coffee. And they have set lunches too!
- Itsuki Coffee ($) – there are a few locations on the island and a roast factory at Miyajimaguchi. I love their coffee soft-served ice cream! It is to die for! They also serve food and opens until midnight.
- Sarasvati ($) – a cozy coffee shop serving coffee and cake all day. They also serve proper meals and open until 8:00 pm.
- Kakiwai ($) – have coffee in a 100+ years old traditional Japanese house with contemporary wood furniture. The lemon cheesecake is most excellent!
Need more ideas for day trips from Hiroshima? Try cycling Shimanami Kaido in one day
Hiroshima to Miyajima day trip itinerary
If you are visiting Hiroshima, then you must visit Miyajima as a day trip. The small island has so much to see that you can fill your day full of activities. And Miyajima is a popular destination as it is easy to get to and full of Instagram-worthy spots!
All the top things to do in Miyajima are pinned on the interactive map. You can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin.
1. Omotesando Shopping Street
After you disembark from the ferry, walk over to Omotesando Shopping Street. As the main avenue of Miyajima, the 350-metre long street starts near the ferry terminal and all the way to Itsukushima Shrine.
You will find many restaurants serving local Miyajima cuisine, coffee shops and retail shops selling all Miyajima souvenirs like momiji manju (leaf-shaped cake), and shakushi (traditional Japanese wood rice scoop).
But first, grab breakfast and coffee at Miyajima Coffee and pick up some snacks like momiji manju for later in the afternoon.
2. Five-Storied Pagoda
The Five-Storied Pagoda was built in 1407 and went through many renovations throughout the years. As an important cultural property, the pagoda has an intricate, ornate design with traditional Japanese motifs inside.
However, the interior is closed to the public. But you can admire the vermillion-coloured building from outside.
3. Senjokaku (Toyokuni Shrine)
Standing next to the Five-Storied Pagoda, the 400-year-old Toyokuni Shrine is one of the largest buildings on the island. Initially, the building was constructed as a Buddhist library, but construction halted 11 years later and remained unfinished.
Today, you can pay an entrance fee of ¥100, to see the interior of this national cultural property.
4. Itsukushima Shrine
Itsukushima Shrine consists of many shrines and connected by corridors and appears to be floating in the water. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was built more than 1400 years ago, and regular maintenance and remodelling are required due to harsh weather conditions
For an entrance fee of ¥300, you can walk through various vermillion-coloured lacquer temples through a series of connected corridors. Look for Marado Shrine, the most prominent auxiliary shrine within the complex, and the Purification Hall, where monthly performances and ceremonies are held. And don’t forget to take a photo of the floating torii gate at Hitasaki, the spot closest to the floating torii gate.
And if you stay overnight in Miyajima, you can see how the shrine is lit up at night. There is a soft red glow emitting from the shrine.
5. Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate
Most travellers visit Miyajima because of Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate that appears to be floating on the water. And I would have to agree; the giant torii gate is quite spectacular.
The torii gate was first built in 1168 and was reconstructed many times since. Standing at 16.6 meters tall, the vermillion-coloured torii gate weighs over 60 tons. It is said that the torii gate is the boundary between the spirit and human worlds.
During the morning, the high tide covers the base of the torii gate. But by late afternoon, the water recedes and you can walk up to it.
6. Momijidani Park
Before your afternoon excursion up the mountain, have a traditional Miyajima lunch at Shibaisaryo Mizhua and sample some of the best food on the island.
Then wander over to Momijidani Park which is at the base of Mount Misen. The lovely park has over 200 beautiful maple trees along Momijidani river. During spring, pink cherry blossom flowers cover the park while the red and orange foliage takes over during autumn.
Keep following the marked path, and it will lead you up Mount Misen. You can either walk or take the ropeway.
7 & 8. Miyajima Ropeway and Mount Misen Climbing Course
There are two ways of getting up to the highest peak: Miyajima Ropeway or Mount Misen Climbing Course.
The Miyajima Ropeway (¥1,000 one way or ¥1,800 return, 15 minutes) begins at Momijidani Station, and it takes you to Shishiiwa Station. From there, hike another 10 minutes to the top.
Alternatively, the Mount Misen Climbing Course will lead you to the summit. Just follow the signs in Momijidani Park where the road splits off to the ropeway or the climbing course.
There are three hiking routes in Mount Misen: Momijidani Route is the shortest, Daishoin Route is the most strenuous, and Omoto Route is the longest (3.2km, about 2 hours).
The most popular route is to ascend Momijidani Route for 45 minutes, visit all the attractions at the summit and descend Daishoin Route, towards Daishoin Temple, which is what I suggest for my one day itinerary.
9, 10, 11, 12, & 13. Mount Misen
Legend has it that Mount Misen was used for religious practices 1200 years ago and the mountain has many holy spots where people visit and pray.
Near the top, Misen Hondo Hall has a statue of Akasagarbha bodhisattva, who is the god of wisdom and well-being. And Reikado Hall is close by where you will find Kiezu-no-hi, the eternal flame that has been burning for 1200 years. The source of fire came from the Flame of Peace at Hiroshima‘s Peace Memorial Park.
As you walk further up the summit at 535 meters, you will walk through the natural rock arch called Kuguriiwa Rock. And Shishi-wa Observation Deck is at the top where you can relax and see unobstructed views of the Seto Inland Sea.
14. Daishoin Temple
Located at the base of Mount Misen is one of the most important temples of Shingon Buddhism. Daishoin Temple consists of several buildings including Kannon-do Hall and Maniden Hall, and many preserved historical relics on the premise.
One of the unique features of the temple is the stairs at the entrance. As you walk up the stairs, you can practice a Buddhist ritual, in which you spin the metal wheels on the railing as you walk up the stairs. It is said that the spinning of the metal wheels is the same as reading the inscriptions on the wheels.
Moreover, look for various Buddhist statues in different forms that are placed all over the temple ground. Some of the sculptures are quite whimsical.
From Mount Misen, take the Daishoin Route towards Daishoin Temple. On the way down, you will see other temples and waterfalls.
15. Miyajima History and Folklore Museum
After spending the day outdoors in Miyajima, visit the Miyajima History and Folklore Museum to see the 160-year-old traditional Japanese house, artifacts on everyday life items during the Edo Period and items related to Itsukushima Shrine. The entrance fee is ¥300.
16. Machiya Street
Located behind Omotesando Shopping Street, Machiya Street was once the main street where movie theatre and coffee shops once existed.
Today, the quiet and nostalgic street is lined with modern cafes and art galleries in renovated traditional Japanese houses. The street is charming at night when all the lanterns are lit.
17. Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate at sunset
And before you leave Miyajima, take another peek at the floating torii gate. The sun should be setting and the tide should be low, and you can walk directly up to the torii gate.
On your way back to Itsukushima Ferry Terminal, pick up any souvenirs on Omotesando Shopping Street.
The last ferry going back to Miyajimaguchi Port is at 10:14 pm.
Want some unique tour ideas in Miyajima? Take a look at these tours:
Are you going on a day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima?
Miyajima Island has so many things to do and so many things to see. But the best part about visiting Miyajima Island is to experience rural Japan, enjoy the outdoors and see famous monuments. And you can do everything in one day!
My day trip to Miyajima was one of my most memorable moments during my solo trip across Japan. I hope you will visit this beautiful island when you travel to Hiroshima! And if you have any questions, leave me a comment below.