Top 10 things to see and do on Miyajima
Getting there from the hostel
Miyajima is roughly an hour and a half away from The Evergreen hostel via train and ferry. One of the easiest routes is to take the local tram at Honkawacho station to Yokogawa Station. Then at Yokogawa station, take the San-yo line to Miyajimaguchi station. Just across the road from Miyajimaguchi station is the JR Miyajima ferry port with multiple ferries travelling back and fourth to take tourists to the island. As Miyajima is such a popular tourist destination, if you ever get lost, just follow the crowd of foreigners and you should be fine!
10. Floating tori
The floating tori of Miyajima is a symbol of the island, and is perhaps one of the most iconic structures in Japan. This 16m tall gate serves as the entrance to Itsukushima-jina. The gate stands in a tidal zone, so if you stay on the island long enough you can watch the tide recede to the point where you can actually walk up to the gate. By that point however, the area is usually flooded with crowds of photo-bombing tourists. To reach the gate before anyone else, I would recommend a trick my friend used which was to wear wetsuit shoes to protect his feet from rocks in the bay as he waded out to the gate when the tide was low enough. This way he could have the gate all to himself for some very decent photo opportunities.
World Heritage-listed Itsukushima-jina is a shrine with origins tracing back as far as the late 6th century. The reason for its unique pier-like construction is due to the island’s sacred status; meaning commoners were forbidden from setting foot on the island. So, instead they had to settle for approaching the shrine by boat through the floating tori. Still, rather picturesque if you ask me.
8. Mount Misen hike
Mount Misen is Miyajima’s highest mountain. At 530m and covered in primeval forest, climbing the mountain is a rewarding endeavour that’ll make you feel as if you are in a cinematic training montage. There are several routes to the summit and plenty of signs along the way. I would recommend taking the Momijidani Hiking trail going up the mountain and the Daisho-in hiking trail on the way back down. Along the way these trails will lead you past multiple ancient temples and scenic views. For those who would rather take an easier route up the mountain, there is a two stage ropeway, leaving you with just a 30 minute walk to the top.
7. Fashionable Buddhist statues
While taking the Momijidani trail up the mountain, close to the summit you will arrive at a temple with an abundance of miniature Buddhist statues dripped out with a range of accessories including hats and sunglasses making for some adorable photographs. As for why people see the need to leave their hats and sunglasses on the statues, I have absolutely no idea. Perhaps they are some sort of offering?
6. Nio Guardians
If cute miniature Buddhist statues aren’t your thing, then perhaps the powerful, macho Nio guardian statues you’ll come across along the Daisho-in hiking trail will be. These figures serve to guard Buddhist temples from thieves, demons and evil spirits.
5. Sticker hunting
As with a lot of other areas in Japan, it is not uncommon to come across public areas covered in stickers, some of which originate from around the world, turning bland objects like street lamps and telephone poles into communal works of art for everyone to enjoy. See how many you can find around the island, and why not tag some stickers of your own? Just be respectful of the local rules, etcetera.
4. Sake ice cream
Sake ice cream is the flavour you probably never wanted, but also never knew you needed. With breweries on the island and an abundance of ice cream shops, treat yourself to a a scoop or two, you can thank me later.
3. Wildlife watching
Miyajima is home to a range of wild and somewhat exotic looking animals. Perhaps the most apparent examples when you first step foot on the island are the deer. These deer have become accustomed to humans and are bold enough to walk up to people carrying food, expecting donations or even snatching things out of people’s hands! This makes for cheap but thoroughly amusing entertainment to sit back and watch these menaces wreak havoc on other tourists.
2.Reika-do Eternal Fire Hall
Ever wondered what a 1200-year-old flame looks like? Well now you can see for yourself as close to the Mount Misen summit exists the Reika-do Eternal Fire Hall. Here Kobo Daishi is said to have lit a flame in the autumn of 806 which is still burning to this day. Its fire was also used to light the Flame of Peace in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
1. Mount Misen observatory
Once you reach the summit out Mount Misen where its observatory is located, you will be rewarded with 360-degrees of stunning panoramic views over Hiroshima and the numerous islands scattered around the bay. It is well worth the effort of getting up the mountain, which will seem trivial in comparison.