Skip to Content

Miyajima Day Trip: How To Spend One Day In Itsukushima Island

During our two weeks in Japan, we had the pleasure of visiting Miyajima Island, also known as Itsukushima. Located in Hiroshima Bay, this island is a little gem that not many travellers visit.

With its quaint streets, lively street markets, ancient temples and lush forests, it’s a beautiful island and a must-see in Japan.

There are lots of great things to do in Miyajima, but being a fairly small island, you can easily see them on a Miyajima day trip.

If you’re planning a day trip to Miyajima, this is the guide for you! I’ve outlined everything you need to know to have an epic Miyajima day trip, including how to get there, the best things to do and more.

The view from the peak of Mount Misen in Miyajima Island

The view from the peak of Mount Misen in Miyajima Island

About Miyajima Island

The real name of the island is Itsukushima, but it’s popularly known as Miyajima, which means “Shrine Island”.

Miyajima is a rural and mountainous island, with only around 2,000 people living in the small towns dotted around the island.

After the bustle of big Japanese cities, visiting Miyajima feels like taking a step back in time. You can explore the island on foot, wandering around the quaint streets and admiring the cute Japanese houses.

The island is extremely beautiful, but all the shops and restaurants shut early. Even restaurants and bars will be closed by 9PM at the latest. As such, it’s the perfect place to visit for a day trip.

The main street and market of Miyajima Town

The main street and market of Miyajima Town

How to get to Miyajima Island

Getting to Miyajima Island is very simple. You need to take a train and ferry from Hiroshima, which will take in total around 45 minutes. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, the journey is included in the JR Pass.

There are trains every 15 minutes from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi and it takes just under half an hour. From the station it’s a short 3-minute walk to the ferry terminal.

The ferry terminal is very clearly indicated when you get off the train so you can’t miss it.

During the peak hours of the day there are ferries every 15 minutes, gradually less going into the evenings and very early morning. The ferry doesn’t run at night.

The ferry only takes around 10 minutes. From the ferry you can already see the famous floating Torii Gate, as well as the cable car that goes to the top of Mount Misen.

Click here to purchase your Japan Rail Pass!

The view over Miyajima and the Japanese coastline from the cable car going to the top of Mount Misen

The view over Miyajima and the Japanese coastline from the cable car going to the top of Mount Misen

Best things to do on Miyajima Island

Miyajima Island is beautiful and you could easily spend days in its tranquil and peaceful town.

However given you only have one day in Miyajima, I’ve listed below all the best things to do on the island, that you can easily fit in a one day itinerary.

Admire the famous floating Torii Gate

Possibly the most famous landmark on the island (and amongst the most famous in the whole of Japan) is the Itsukushima floating Torii Gate.

This gate is located just off the shore of Miyajima, and appears to be floating in the sea. The gate marks the entrance of the Itsukushima Shrine, a Shinto Shrine located on the island.

During low tide you can walk up to the gate and see it from up close, but it’s most impressive during high tide when it looks like it’s floating, hence the name.

I was in Miyajima September 2019 and the gate was currently under renovation. Please note it’s scheduled to last at least until August 2020, but it might be longer.

However don’t despair, there are lots of other awesome things to do on Miyajima Island besides the floating Torii Gate!

The famous floating Torii gate of Itsukushima - Photo by Tom Shu on Scopio

The famous floating Torii gate of Itsukushima – Photo by Tom Shu on Scopio

Visit Itsukushima Shrine

The gate marks the entrance to the shrine, it’s only fair that you should pay a visit to Itsukushima Shrine itself too!

The shrine is built over water, much like the torii gate, and overlooks the bay and mainland Japan coast in the distance.

Itsukushima Shrine was built over 1,400 years ago. It’s a beautiful spot and one that can teach you a lot about both Shinto and Japanese culture.

The Itsukushima Shrine

The Itsukushima Shrine

Approaching the Itsukushima Shrine

Approaching the Itsukushima Shrine

Eat the local oysters!

Miyajima is famous for its oysters. There are many flourishing oyster farms all around the island, which they say produce above-average size and particularly juice oysters.

You will find that many of the street food stalls and all the restaurants serve oysters in one form or another. You can have them fresh, fried, with cheese, in a hot pot and many more ways.

Whatever type of oyster you decide to sample, tasting the local oysters is a must on Miyajima Island!

Grilled oysters at the Miyajima market

Grilled oysters at the Miyajima market

Explore the market

After you’ve sampled your oysters, don’t forget to explore the rest of the market! The main streets of the town are part of semi-covered market, with all the shops and restaurants displaying stalls outside.

Besides oysters and other edible delicacies, there are also lots of shops selling souvenirs or traditional Japanese items. It’s the perfect place if you’re looking for souvenirs to bring back home!

The cute market streets on Miyajima Island

The cute market streets on Miyajima Island

Admire the view from Mount Misen

Mount Misen is the highest mountain on Miyajima Island, as well as a sacred mountain. From the top of its 535 metres, you get some incredible views over Miyajima, the Japanese coast and surrounding islands.

There are a couple of different trails that lead to the top, which all take around 1.5-2 hours. If you’re feeling adventurous it’s a great way to spend part of your day in Miyajima!

Alternatively there is a cable car that will take you to a viewpoint about three quarters of the way to the peak.

From here you can admire the view, and then hike the remaining 30 minutes through forests and shrines to reach the peak and main viewpoint.

It’s a great compromise, especially if you’re only doing a day trip to Miyajima, as it allows you to get a bit of hiking in without taking too much time out of your day. The cable car is 1,000 YEN one way or 1,800 YEN both ways.

The view from the top of Mount Misen on Miyajima

The view from the top of Mount Misen on Miyajima

Explore the five-story pagoda of Miyajima

Located on top of a small hill close to the Itsukushima Shrine, you will find an imposing five-story pagoda, towering over the bay. This red Buddhist pagoda is a unique sight.

It’s already impressive to look at from below, but when you get up close to it it will seem even bigger, looming above you. Even if you’re only in Miyajima for a day trip, it’s still worth checking it out!

The five story pagoda in Miyajima Island

The five story pagoda in Miyajima Island

See the wild deer

Dotted all over the island you will find tame wild deer. They wander around peacefully and let people get quite close to them, especially if you have some food for them!

Just be careful because even if tame, they are still wild animals. They reminded me of the deer we saw in Nara.

A wild deer on the beach on Miyajima

A wild deer on the beach on Miyajima

Get lost in the cute streets of Miyajima town

I don’t mean completely lost, just a little bit will do! The moment I set foot on Miyajima Island I was amazed at how different the houses, streets and atmosphere of the island were compared to everything else we’d seen.

After the bustling streets of Tokyo and Kyoto arriving in Miyajima felt like stepping back in time. The narrow pedestrian streets and traditional Japanese houses are incredibly beautiful.

Once you’ve seen all the main attractions on Miyajima, spend some time just wandering around the streets of the town. It will feel like being transported back to ancient Japan.

The beautiful streets of Miyajima Town

The beautiful streets of Miyajima Town

Where to stay to visit Miyajima

The best place to stay to do a day trip to Miyajima is Hiroshima. I’ve listed below some options for all budgets.

Budget: Hiroshima no Oyado – This capsule style hostel has spacious dorms, and is located right in the heart of Hiroshima, conveniently close to the station so you can easily get to Miyajima!

Click here to book your stay at Hiroshima no Oyado!

Mid-range: Ark Hotel Hiroshimaeki Minami – Located a short walk away from Hiroshima station this lovely hotel also a public bath with view over Hiroshima.

Click here to book your stay at Ark Hotel Hiroshimaeki Minami!

Luxury: Hotel Granvia Hiroshima – If you’re looking to indulge somewhere, while still being in a great location, this is the place to do so.

Click here to book your stay at Hotel Granvia Hiroshima! 

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Final thoughts on doing a Miyajima day trip

There you have it, the ultimate guide to doing a Miyajima day trip! I tried to list all the best things to do in Miyajima, that you can realistically fit in a day. 

We did many day trips during our Japan trip (to Nara, Kamakura and Himeji) but Miyajima was one of my favourite spots. It’s a bit out of the way but well worth a visit.

I hope you find this guide useful in planning your own Miyajima day trip!

Looking for more Japan travel tips? Check out these guides!

Enjoyed reading about doing a day trip to Miyajima? Pin it!

Collage of the Itsukushima floating Torii gate and the view from Mount Misen with text overlay saying "Day trip to Miyajima Island in Japan"

Japan Itinerary - 14 Days of Our Incredible Japan Winter Itinerary - Exploring Kiwis

Thursday 21st of May 2020

[…] from Hiroshima but the most well-known is Miyajima (which is formally known as Itsukushima).  Miyajima Island is recognised as one of the most scenic locations in all of Japan thanks to it’s […]