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.
- 1 About Miyajima Island
- 2 How to get to Miyajima Island
- 3 Best things to do on Miyajima Island
- 4 Where to stay to visit Miyajima
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I hope you find this guide useful in planning your own Miyajima day trip!
Looking for more Japan travel tips? Check out these guides!
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