Our next stop on the Spring Break extravaganza was Miyajima, an island about an hour outside of Hiroshima.
We let ourselves sleep in a little bit before leaving Hiroshima City, grabbed breakfast at 7-Eleven, and hopped on the JR Line to Miyajimaguchi. From here, we boarded the Miyajima Ferry. The ferry to the island was pretty quick, but we enjoyed looking out over the water and watching as the bright orange torii gate got closer to us through the thick fog.
Don’t Feed the Deer:
The first thing we noticed after getting off the ferry was a sign about the Miyajima deer. I was really surprised to see that the island is home to wild deer – harmless unless provoked. Like the deer of Nara, they’re protected by the government, and visitors are told to leave them be.
In fact, just a few yards away from that first sign were two sleeping deer. They were a little dirty, and the skinniest deer I had ever seen. Then again, there was something sweet about them, and Caleb had to pull me away from them before I used up all of my camera space on the ugliest deer in Japan.
For the rest of the afternoon, deer would pop up in the most random places – lying by the side of a nearby stream, people watching under a tree, and waiting for handouts by the shrine.
Even though it’s known to many people as Miyajima Island (shrine island), it’s technically called Itsukushima, which is also the name of the main shrine on the island.
Itsukushima Shrine is famous for the large torii gate that sits in the water surrounding the shrine. During high tide, the gate looks like it’s floating, and during low tide, visitors can walk down under it. It’s free to do, and there are multiple access points on each side of the island.
This gate is truly impressive, and the contrast between the deep blue water and the vibrant gate was a sight to behold. We traded experiencing low tide for a few extra hours of sleep, but would recommend any other travelers to try and make it.
This is why the shrine was built on the seashore, where the tide ebbs and flows. The contrast of the blue sea, green hills, and the vivid vermillion lacquered shrine, is breathtakingly beautiful. (Quote from the Visitor’s Pamphlet)
Because we arrived at high tide, we paid the fee to walk through the shrine. Once you walk through the shrine, you arrive at a sandy area that gives you another perspective of the gate. During low tide, you can walk across where the water normally is to access this point, but during high tide, the only way to get to this point is to pay and walk through the shrine.
From here, there’s more of the island to explore.
Anything Else On Miyajima?
Even though there are a few other temples and halls to check out on the island, what we loved the most was walking the beautiful paths and taking in the nature around us. We visited the island right before the Sakura flowers were about to bloom, and a few trees were starting to show pink buds.
There were plenty of other tourists on the ferry with us, but it still seemed like a tranquil and not overly tourist-saturated place. The sandy area was my favorite part of the island, and I could have spent hours just watching the waves come to and fro, picking sea shells, and breathing in the salty air that I don’t get to smell in Fukushima Prefecture.
Even if you’re not interested in Japanese shrines or architecture, this is a perfect place to relax and enjoy nature. There are plenty of walking trails, restaurants, and even a small aquarium!
We didn’t have enough time to explore everything on the island – and would recommend checking out Mount Misen, the highest peak on Miyajima. This point can be accessed by a ropeway that’s about 10 minutes away from Itsukushima Shrine.
Definitely make Miyajima a priority if you are visiting Hiroshima Prefecture.
|6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.||300 yen (200 yen for the treasure house)|
|9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.||1000 yen (one way), 1800 yen (round trip)|