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Miyajima 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. Having one of the top three scenic places in Japan, Miyajima is one of the best places to visit in Japan for solo travellers.
Situated in Hiroshima Prefecture, the small island is easily accessible from Hiroshima. As a day trip to Miyajima, spend the day wandering the island and visit historical temples, climb Mount Misen for a panoramic view of Seto Inland Sea, and sample delicious local cuisine that is only available on the small island. And you may see one or two Miyajima island 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 trip. So if you are travelling solo in Japan, make sure to include Miyajima in your itinerary.
Why Miyajima is great for a solo female traveller
As a solo traveller myself, my biggest concern about solo travelling is safety. Miyajima is an absolutely safe place. Actually, safety is the least of my worries. I felt completely free and safe because Japan is one of the safest countries in the world.
My other concerns about travelling have to do with the budget. Travelling costs money and Japan is not exactly the cheapest place. But there are many ways to visit Japan and not spend a ton of money.
In Miyajima, it is possible to spend an entire day without spending a lot of money. Instead of taking the ropeway to the top of Mount Misen, you can walk up the hiking trail for free. Not only do you get some exercise, but you can also enjoy the journey while you are trekking up. And you can save a bit more if you pack your lunch. The easiest way to do that is to pick up some sandwiches at 7-Eleven before you hop on the ferry in Miyajimaguchi.
And moreover, Miyajima is easy to navigate because the island is small and there are many English signs everywhere. You will not get lost in Miyajima!
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How to get to Miyajima Island from Hiroshima
If you are going directly to Miyajima, you will still have to travel through Hiroshima Station. You will either fly directly into Hiroshima Airport, flying into other airports or taking the train in from other cities.
From Hiroshima Station, take the local train to Miyajimaguchi Station and then take the Miyajima island ferry.
From Hiroshima Station to Miyajima
- JR San-yo Line Train
- Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi Station
- Time: 28 minutes
- Cost: ¥410
- JR West Miyajima Ferry or Miyajima Matsudai Ferry
- Miyajimaguchi Port to Itsukushima Ferry Terminal
- Time: 10 minutes (every 15 minutes)
- Cost: ¥180 (covered by Japan Rail Pass or JR Pass for JR West Miyajima Ferry)
- Check Miyajima ferry timetable here
How to get around Miyajima
Miyajima is a small island and is perfect for walking! And I’m not just saying that because I love to walk. But it is the best way to see all the small streets and hilly parks. So make sure you bring a comfortable pair of shoes for some brisk walking. And if you are an avid hiker, you might even want to hike up Mount Misen. It is a 45-minute trek to the top.
Things to do in Miyajima
If you are visiting Hiroshima, then you must include Miyajima on your itinerary. 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 Instagrammable spots!
All the top things to do in Miyajima are pinned in the interactive map. You can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin.
Must-see attractions in Miyajima
Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate
The great gate was first built in 1168 and was reconstructed many times since. Standing at 16.6 meters high, 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.
When I first arrived in Miyajima in the morning, it was high tides in which the base of the torii gate was submerged in water. By late afternoon, the water receded, and people were able to walk right up to the torii gate. Check the tide schedule for more details.
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 to maintain the pristine appearance.
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.
The park is at the base of Mount Misen where it has over 200 beautiful maple trees along Momijidani river. The park is lovely during the fall season as the red and orange foliage covers the park, creating a pleasant ambience. And cherry blossom in the spring brings a different feel to the park.
Keep following the marked path, and it will lead you to Momijidani Route, a hiking route where you can hike up 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 for the Flame of Peace at Hiroshima‘s Peace Memorial Park originated from here.
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.
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.
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.
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Other attractions in Miyajima
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.
Senjokaku (Toyokuni Shrine)
Standing next to the Five-Storied Pagoda, the 400-year-old 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.
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. Look for popular souvenir items like momiji manju (leaf-shaped cake), and shakushi (traditional Japanese wood rice scoop).
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.
Art & culture in Miyajima
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 and see the displays of artifacts on everyday life items during the Edo Period and items related to Itsukushima Shrine. The entrance fee is ¥300.
Want some unique tour ideas in Miyajima? Take a look at these tours:
Where to eat in Miyajima
Trying local Miyajima cuisine is an exceptional treat! An abundance of fresh seafood like oysters and eel overflow the shops and restaurants of Omotesando Shopping Street. 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!
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.
Here is a list of food you should try while you are in Miyajima:
- 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.
Below are some budget and mid-range restaurant suggestions. You can find more information about each location in the attached google map by clicking on the individual pin (see interactive map above).
- Momijido – the shop sells deliciously 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 – I really like the fishcake in Japan! So delicious! The shop sells deep-fried fishcake shaped in Japanese maple leaf! I haven’t seen it anywhere else in Japan. Also, I’m not sure what the name of the store is in English so I just described it. I included the information on the blog because I really liked it.
- Yakigaki no Hayashi – try one of their set lunches with oysters, eel and other small dishes. A popular restaurant with excellent reviews on Tripadvisor. There might be a queue, but it is worth the wait!
- 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!
Where to stay in Miyajima
If you want to stay overnight in Miyajima, accommodation is a bit limited. There are a handful of hostels, hotels and a lot of high-end ryokans on the island.
And if you have an extra few days on your itinerary (and the funds), try one of the traditional Japanese ryokans. Typically, a room in a ryokan has tatami (made with rice straw) as flooring, and the room is used as a sitting room and a bedroom. Some hotels may 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!
- Cost: up to ¥5,000 per day
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress on tatami mats in the simple Japanese-style room. The bathroom is shared. The hotel is only a few minutes away from Itsukushima Ferry Terminal. Some rooms have a gorgeous mountain view, but they cost more.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Cost: over ¥10,000 per day
- 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
- Experience traditional Japanese Ryokan style hotel here! 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
- Cost: up to ¥3,500 per day
- There aren’t any options for renting Airbnb accommodation on Miyajima. But there are a few shared rooms near Miyajimaguchi Station, on the mainland before you take the ferry to Miyajima. The average cost is ¥3,500 per day.
- However, I would suggest staying in an Airbnb accommodation in Hiroshima instead. The options are much better in Hiroshima.
- And if you are not part of Airbnb yet, please use this code to claim your $35 Airbnb discount.
Hiroshima to Miyajima day trip itinerary
Miyajima is a must if you are visiting Hiroshima! Most visitors will visit Miyajima as a day trip from Hiroshima. And one day is sufficient to see the small island. Below is my suggested itinerary for Miyajima.
Hiroshima to Miyajima Itinerary
To start your day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima, follow the detailed itinerary below:
In the morning:
- From Hiroshima, take the train on JR San-yo Line for Miyajimaguchi Station.
- Once you arrived, walk towards the pier for either ferry to Miyajima. You can use your JR Pass if you hop on the JR Ferry. One way ferry ticket is ¥180 and is the same for both ferries. You can use your IC card to pay as well.
- Walk over to Omotesando Shopping Street. It is the main shopping street, but it also has lots of food! For breakfast, you can try fried fishcake shaped in a Japanese maple leaf, fried Momiji Manju at Momijido or anything you find along the way! Part of experiencing Miyajima is eating street food! And if you are not quite awake yet, walk further down the street and find Miyajima Coffee.
- On the way to Itsukushima Shrine, you will see Five-Storied Pagoda and Senjokaku (Toyokuni Shrine)
- Follow the corridors in Itsukushima Shrine and all the areas of the shrine. The best photo spot for the Itsukushima Floating Torii Gate is in the middle of the shrine. But you can get amazing photos of the torii gate from almost every angle.
- Walk around and visit other smaller temples before an early lunch.
In the afternoon:
- Walk to Shibaisaryo Mizhua for a traditional Miyajima lunch. Try their eel cooked in a traditional pot. An English menu is available.
- Make sure you bring some water for the afternoon hike. Start by walking through Momijidani Park.
- Follow the signs walk up the Momijidani Route of the Mount Misen Climbing Course. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the top. If you don’t want to climb up, you can take the Miyajima Ropeway.
- Whether you climbed Mount Misen or took the ropeway, you will still have to hike a bit from the Shishi-iwa Observation Deck to the top.
- At the top of Mount Misen, visit Misenhondo Hall and Reikado Hall. Also, don’t miss the Kuguriiwa Rock.
- Make your way back down Mount Misen but take the Daishoin Route towards Daishoin Temple.
- On the way down, you will see other temples and waterfalls.
- Then spend some time wandering Daishoin Temple. The temple premise is quite big and has a lot of whimsical Buddhist statues.
- If you have the time and energy, visit Miyajima History and Folk Museum.
- Get a coffee soft-serve ice cream at Itsuki Coffee. You won’t regret it!
- Take another peek at the floating torii gate at sunset. The tide should be low, and you can walk directly up to the torii gate. And it is beautiful with the sun setting behind the mountains.
- It is time to say goodbye to Miyajima. Take the ferry and train back to Hiroshima.
And there you have it! A day trip from Hiroshima to Miyajima was one of my most memorable moments during my solo trip across Japan. I hope you will include this beautiful island on your next trip to Japan! And if you have any questions, leave me a comment below.
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last update: April 10, 2019