Miyajima Island

Miyajima Island: An Oasis of Calm in Hiroshima 宮島, 広島

Chris Lau

May 28, 2018

Miyajima Great Torii, Hiroshima Prefecture
Miyajima Great Torii, Hiroshima Prefecture

Miyajima Island, known as the island of the gods, is an oasis of calm and serenity, where nature, tourism and heritage meet and intertwine.

Famed for its scenic views and cultural monuments and given its close proximity to the city Hiroshima, Miyajima is perfect for a one day trip.

Miyajima is located in the Seto Inland Sea and is about 20 km from central Hiroshima. It is easily accessible by both land and sea.

Once the visitor steps off the ferry after the very short ferry ride, they will realize that they have been transported back in time into another historical era. For those looking for adventure, then there are various hiking and nature trials on the island.

These include Omoto Park, Momijidani Park and Mount Misen. Miyajami is simply a magical place to visit and the following are the main highlights. A visitor cannot help but be struck by the pleasant and friendly greetings of the island's inhabitants which makes the visit all the more worthwhile.

Miyajima Great Torii, Hiroshima Prefecture
Miyajima Great Torii, Hiroshima Prefecture

The Great Torii

The highlight of Miyajima Island is the Great Torii structure which lies majestically in the sea just off the coast. Beautifully crafted, the Great Torii is unique in the sense that it can be reached by foot when it is low tide and when the tide comes back in, it is submerged and can be reached by boat. The Great Torii has significant spiritual and religious importance and is centuries old. The first version was constructed in 1168 and was built about 200 meters offshore. It has been restored and maintained through the centuries.

The structure is striking to view from all angles from the Miyajima coastal area and it is illuminated at night which makes the experience even more grand. Such is the cultural significance of the Great Torii that is now listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site and seen as a national treasure in Japan. A view of the torii really makes the trip to the island seem worthwhile.

Five-storied Pagoda (Gojunoto), Hiroshima Prefecture
Five-storied Pagoda (Gojunoto), Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture

Five-storied Pagoda (Gojunoto)

Further up on the hill on Miyajima is the stunning five storied pagoda which is hard to miss given its bright red appearance and how it stretches high up into the the sky.

The pagoda was constructed in 1407 and is also deemed a heritage site and viewed as a specially preserved building since April 7, 1900. Within its confines and enshrined for preservation are the Buddha of Medicine and the Buddhist saints Fugen and Monju. If a person views the Pagoda from the bottom up then they will be struck by the intricate details of the design and the way that the structure was lovingly crafted.

Sika Deer on Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture
Sika Deer on Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture

Sika Deer on Miyajima

Animal lovers will be delighted to view up to 1,200 Sika deer freely roaming around the island as they please. The deer are seemingly unfazed by the thousand of tourists who visit the island on a daily basis. Revered in the the Shinto religion as respected messengers of the gods, the deer are well protected and respected by laws and regulations.

The deer can be seen almost straight away once you alight from the ferry and are generally non-aggressive. Years of human interaction have made the deer unafraid of people and they can even be seen near the main tourist areas like the Great Torii. However, it is always best to keep a safe distance from the deer out of both safety and respect.

Shop on Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture
Shop on Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture
Shop on Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture
Momiji manju made in the shape of maple leaves, Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture

Shops on the Island

The stroll through the alleyways on Miyajima offers a view into the heart and soul of the island due to the various heritage buildings and unique architecture. As with all tourist destinations, there are a variety of shops selling local crafts and delicacies.

The most well-known local favour of the month is Momiji Manju which are shaped and moulded like maple leaves. There is a variety of fillings to select from with the most common one being red bean paste.

Given how rice is such a important part of the dining culture, the island is well known for producing wooden scoops and these can be brought in a variety of different shapes and sizes.

Shop on Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture
Fish cakes on sale, Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture
Shop on Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture
Rice scoops of all sizes signed by visiting celebrities, Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture

Access - Getting There

The island is easy accessible by either train or ferry. Visitors can take a train from Hiroshima Station and follow the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station and then get the ferry.

A slower and more scenic trip can be taken via tram. Visitors can take tram line number 2 from central Hiroshima bound for Miyajimaguchi Station.

Ferry to Miyajima

Upon arrival in Miyajimaguchi Station, it is a short walk to the ferry. There are two ferry companies to select from. The ferry crossing takes 10 minutes and both cost 180 yen one way.

Alternatively, boats connect Miyajima directly with Hiroshima Peace Park and with Hiroshima Port. The ferry journey is 45 minutes or 30 minutes respectively.

Map of Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture.
Map of Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture

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