Written by Chris
Miyajima: Tips For Enjoying Its Nature And Beauty
Are you looking for a place to enjoy nature, scenic views, and relaxing outdoor activities? This article presents the most fun ways to engage with nature and Japanese culture in Miyajima Island on a day trip from Hiroshima.
An Introduction to Miyajima Island
Miyajima, (also known as Itsukushima) is a small island off the coast of Hiroshima. The island is best known for its enormous “floating” torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine, which has its base submerged at high tide.
While Miyajima is home to many beautiful and culturally significant buildings, this article will introduce another side of Miyajima: its abundance of natural spaces and opportunities to enjoy them.
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Getting to Miyajima
JR ferry, preparing to depart.
Miyajima is just off the shore of Hiroshima, and JR operates a ferry service between the two islands. This line includes a direct route, as well as a scenic route that passes closer to the floating torii.
Visitors should make their way to Miyajimaguchi Station (a 30-minute train ride from Hiroshima Station) and from there to the ferry boarding area, about a 5-minute walk through an underground passage at the station. The ferry ride itself takes about 10 minutes.
JR West Miyajima Ferry
Access: Miyajimaguchi Station
Fees: Adult round-trip ticket: 360 yen. Child round-trip ticket: 180 yen.
Website: http://jr-miyajimaferry.co.jp/en/ (English)
1. Searching for Tidepools and Sea Creatures under the Torii
Miyajima's torii at low tide
Once you’ve enjoyed the famous view of the floating torii, be sure not to leave before the tide goes out! At low tide, visitors can walk along the shore, and even underneath the shrine gate itself.
As the tide recedes, the rocky, hard packed shoreline traps many large tidepools, and even a small river! These tidepools become the temporary home of many small fish and crabs. As you walk down to the shrine, you can enjoy a close up view of this natural aquarium. Fish flit about in the pools and crustaceans, large and small, crawl across the damp sand.
2. Making Friends with Miyajima's Sacred Deer
The deer also like to browse at local restaurants and food stands.
Just like Nara, Miyajima is known for its sacred deer. You can find them wandering all over the island, both in town and on the hiking trails. The deer are friendly with locals and visitors alike. You might even them waiting hopefully at a restaurant or food stall!
Unlike in Nara, the deer on Miyajima are not fed by the visitors. This means that they tend to be very calm, but they’re still happy to receive attention from people visiting the island. While you shouldn’t feed the deer on Itsukushima, you can pet them, and enjoy an afternoon break together.
3. Exploring the Mountain Trails on Miyajima
Mt. Misen's scenic ropeway
Miyajima offers several wonderful opportunities for hiking, all of which provide spectacular views of its heavily forested mountains. The most famous (and tallest) mountain on Miyajima is Mt. Misen. At 535 meters tall, hiking to the summit takes about two hours at a comfortable pace.
The inclines are gentle, and steeper sections are inlaid with rough stone steps. This hike is great for visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of Miyajima, even if they don’t have any hiking or climbing experience. You can often see deer, birds, or even the occasional monkey as you make your way to the peak and enjoy the nature all around.
Mt. Misen also has a ropeway, giving visitors a bird’s eye view of the mountain scenery, and dropping them off about a fifteen-minute walk from the summit, along a trail that passes by a famous temple.
This is a great way for those who’d rather skip the hike (or are tired from the trek up) to enjoy the sights from the top of Mt. Misen in a more leisurely way. The ropeway station is a 15-minute walk from Miyajima Shrine, but there’s also a free shuttle bus that leaves from Momijidani Park, just a 5-minute walk from the shrine.
The Eternal Fire Hall, near Mt. Misen's summit.
On a clear day, you can see all the way to Hiroshima city from the top of Mt. Misen. On the summit, you’ll find an observatory. A few minutes before reaching it, you will pass a small, but very important, temple called Daishoin.
This historical structure is home to the Eternal Fire Hall and holds a fire said to have been lit by Kobo Daishi (a renowned Buddhist scholar and poet) more than 1,000 years ago. The same fire was used to light the eternal flame at the peace memorial in Hiroshima.
Mt. Misen Ropeway
Access: Miyajima Ropeway Momijidani Station, via Momijidani Park Shuttle
Fees: Adult round-trip ticket, 1,840 yen. Child round-trip ticket, 920 yen. One-way tickets available.
Website: http://miyajima-ropeway.info/english/ (English)
Enjoying the Nature and Culture of Miyajima
Although most famous for its cultural significance, Miyajima is also a place of spectacular natural beauty. While it is possible to visit Miyajima for only an afternoon as part of a day trip to Hiroshima, we recommend that you take your time and experience Miyajima over several days, including an overnight stay on the island itself. Miyajima has several modern hotels, as well as historical ryokan (Japanese style inns).
There is so much to take in on Miyajima. Whether you want to hear the lapping of the tide coming in as you savor the fresh sea breeze, or take in the sight of the primeval forest while you hike, you can enjoy a connection with nature, while you make a connection with Japan’s rich history and culture.