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The perfect 1-Day Miyajima itinerary: Culture & nature rolled into one

The perfect 1-Day Miyajima itinerary: Culture & nature rolled into one

You’ve probably seen this photo above on plenty of Japanese tourism sites, but do you actually know where it’s from? Miyajima (宮島) is a small island off Hiroshima Prefecture (広島県 Hiroshima-ken), and is just a 10-minute ferry ride (¥180, one way) from Miyajimaguchi Station (宮島口駅). The JR ferry is covered by the Japan Rail Pass and some rail passes offered by JR West. Not only is it home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社 Itsukushima Jinja), Miyajima boasts an amazing view of the Seto Inland Sea (瀬戸内海 Seto Naikai) from the top of Mount Misen (弥山). There’s also plenty of local delights such as grilled oysters (焼きガキ yakigaki) and momiji manjū (もみじ饅頭), a sweet cake filled with red bean paste and shaped like a maple leaf. The sight of the torii gate floating over the water at high tide is regarded as one of Japan’s three best views.

 

Arriving at Miyajima

The first time I got off the ferry, I was pretty surprised to find wild deers on Miyajima. They are pretty docile, except that once they chew on something, you’re probably going to lose the tug of war! (Image credit: Jeremy Jee)

 

As soon as you get off the ferry, you will probably be greeted by wild deer lazing around right outside the ferry terminal. Why go all the way to Nara (奈良) when you can get your deer fix right here on Miyajima? Although these deer make for good photo opportunities, watch out because they’ll eat anything, including paper maps.

 

Itsukushima Port (宮島桟橋)
Address: Ebisu-machi, Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0505
Nearest station: Miyajimaguchi Station (宮島口駅)
Opening hours: 6am–10pm

 

Feasting on Miyajima’s local delicacies

Oysters are the best when they’re fresh, and Hiroshima is well known for its oysters. Don’t forget to add some soy sauce (or oyster soy sauce, a local specialty) and lemon juice on your oysters for the ultimate experience. (Image credit: Jeremy Jee)

 

As you walk through the plethora of shops in the shopping arcade, be sure to stop for Hiroshima’s local delicacy: oysters! Miyajima Hanayashiki (みやじま華屋敷) is one of the more popular stores on the street, offering two plump freshly grilled oysters for ¥400. There’s typically a queue in front of the store, but don’t worry because it moves quickly!

 

Miyajima Hanayashiki (みやじま華屋敷)
Address: 531-2, Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0588
Nearest station: Miyajimaguchi Station (宮島口駅)
Opening hours: 10am–6pm
TEL: +81 829-44-0180

 

Visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site  

For an entrance fee of just ¥300, it is well worth it to see this unique shrine on the water. What’s more, there is an amazing photo spot for a shot with the floating torii gate on the water. (Image credit: Jeremy Jee)

 

At the end of the shopping arcade, you’ll come across the entrance to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Itsukushima Shrine. Be sure to visit when the tide is high to catch a glimpse of the shrine at its most iconic state. Do check online beforehand to see what the timings are during your visit—if the tide is low, skip this attraction for now and return later, or you can opt to walk over to the torii instead! 

 

Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社)
Address: 1-1 Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0588
Nearest station: Miyajimaguchi Station (宮島口駅)
Opening hours: 6:30am–5pm (Differs based on the seasons)
Admission fee: ¥300

 

Riding the ropeway up Mount Misen

This is just one of the many breathtaking views on the cable car up. If you’re afraid of heights, the cable car is relatively stable so don’t sweat it. (Image credit: Jeremy Jee)

 

One of the must-see attractions on Miyajima is the view from the top of Mount Misen, which gives you a 360º view of the Seto Inland Sea from the viewing point at the peak. There are two ways to get up: hiking, which takes around 2 hours, or ropeway, which takes you near the peak in about 20 minutes (one-way). Along the way, you’ll also get great views of the island, and of the Seto Inland Sea as well. 

 

Miyajima Ropeway (宮島ロープウェー)
Address: Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0588
Nearest station: Miyajimaguchi Station (宮島口駅)
Opening hours: 9am–4:30pm
Round-trip fee (Ropeway): ¥1,840 (Adult), ¥920 (Child)

 

Making your own Momiji Manju

Feel like a pro as you pour in the batter, smell the fragrance of the batter as it sizzles, and then flip the grill as if you run the store. (Image credit: Jeremy Jee)

 

At the top-most ropeway station, there’s an opportunity to make “Heart in Momiji” (ハートインもみじ Hāto In Momiji), a special version of the local delicacy momiji manju. Get the uniquely unforgettable experience making and eating your own freshly-made momiji manju. This rare opportunity makes for a great memorable experience, although only a few slots are open per day. Couples or families are also encouraged to participate together with a discount for two people.

 

Shishiiwa Station (獅子岩駅)
Address: Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0588
Nearest station: Miyajimaguchi Station (宮島口駅)
Workshop fee: ¥300 for one person or ¥500 for two people (includes ingredient costs for 3 pieces of manju for each person)

 

Hiking up to the peak

(Image credit: Jeremy Jee)

 

From the top-most ropeway station, it’s a short 30-minute hike to the peak of Mount Misen. The hike wasn’t too difficult for amateurs like myself, with well-paved roads and many other people climbing up too. Be sure to say “Konnichiwa” (こんにちは) to hikers that pass you as a friendly greeting! Along the hike, you’ll be greeted with amazing views like this on your side as well as the occasional wild deer hiding in the bushes.

 

(Image credit: Jeremy Jee)

 

Your hard work climbing to the top will be rewarded with this amazing 360º view of the Seto Inland Sea. It is exceptionally beautiful on a sunny day. There’s also a marker at the peak, noting the location and elevation, which makes for a good photo opportunity to show off to your friends. Be sure to explore around the peak area for great hidden photo spots that can potentially become your next profile picture for social media. 

 

Mount Misen Observatory (弥山山頂展望台)
Address: Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0588
Nearest station: Miyajimaguchi Station (宮島口駅)
Opening hours: 10am–4pm

 

BONUS: Kayaking underneath the Floating Torii Gate

Just visiting Miyajima too mainstream for you? How about kayaking across from the mainland and underneath the famous torii gate? (Image credit: Jeremy Jee)

 

If you want to try something off the beaten path, how about kayaking through the Seto Inland Sea from the mainland to Miyajima? Paddle Park offers a convenient half day course for  ¥7,000 including all the equipment you need. It’s perfect for beginners even if you aren’t very athletically-inclined and have never kayaked before. The instructor will guide you along, teach you how to kayak, and bring you on a course from the mainland to Miyajima, through the torii gate and then back. He’ll even take photos for you, giving you that unbeatable shot of Miyajima from the sea. It’s a unique experience to kayak through the inland sea, passing by local oyster farms, and taking in the sea breeze. If you’re even more adventurous, then take on the full day tour that will bring you not just to Miyajima, but Enoshima and other islands in the Seto Inland Sea.

 

Kayak Space Paddle Park (KAYAK SPACEパドルパーク)
Address: 1-2-9 Monomi Higashi, Hatsukaichi-shi, Hiroshima 738-0426
Nearest station: Maezora Station (前空駅)
Course fee: ¥7,000 for half day or ¥12,000 for full day (includes an instructor, insurance, and equipment rental such as kayaks)
Opening hours: 10am–4pm (Advance reservations are required)
TEL: +81 829-50-4340

 

Ending the Day with a Beautiful Sunset

(Image credit: Jeremy Jee)

 

After you’re done soaking in the breathtaking views from the top, it’s time to head back down the ropeway. If you haven’t checked out Itsukushima Shrine, now’s the time. You’ll also find many people sitting along the shore, waiting to catch a glimpse of an amazing sunset over the shadow of the floating torii gate. This makes for the perfect way to cap off a day of good food, amazing sights, and the beautiful heritage buildings of Miyajima.

 

Header image credit: Jeremy Jee

 

Writer's profile: Jeremy is a first year Masters student at the University of Tokyo. He loves travelling across Japan to find new unexpected discoveries, and he loves the food he finds there even more. Hiking in picturesque locations, eating delicious local delicacies, and taking in the traditional sights of Japan are his particular favourites.

 

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