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Miyajima Island

The island of Miyajima is located in Hiroshima Bay, about 20 km west of the city, and is one of the most popular tourist spots in all of Japan.
In 1649 a famous Japanese philosopher, Hayashi Razan, included the island among the three most beautiful views of Japan, and now belongs to the World Heritage list of UNESCO.

The pier where the boats moor is located in the northern part, where the few buildings on the island are located. At about 800 meters along a street full of souvenir shops, there is the Itsukushima shrine and nearby there are all the other places of interest, including the cable car up to the top of Mount Misen.
In the rest of the island there are no buildings, it is covered by a dense vegetation.

Itsukushima Shrine

(admission 300 yen, opening hours Mar-Oct 6:30-18, Nov 6:30-17:30, Dec 6:30-17, Jan-Feb 6:30-17:30)
A Shinto shrine, certainly the most famous place of the island. The big red torii (sacred gate) in front of the shrine, which at high tide seems suspended over the water, is a landmark known throughout Japan.
The sanctuary is composed of several buildings and its foundation dates back to the sixth century, but the present building is of the sixteenth century.
itsukushima shrine miyajima
itsukushima shrine low tide miyajima
itsukushima shrine miyajima itsukushima shrine at night miyajima various photos of the Itsukushima shrine and its famous torii, during various times of the day

Hokoku Shrine (Senjokaku)

(admission 100 yen, opening hours 8:30-16:30)
This shrine is located very close to the village of the island, just east of the Itsukushima.
It is a construction begun in 1587 but never finished and therefore quite "strange".
The name "Senjokaku" means "pavilion of one thousand tatami", because the internal structure is so large that it could be virtually covered with almost 1000 tatami mats.
A nearby 5-storey pagoda also belongs to this shrine.
senjokaku temple miyajima hiroshima senjokaku temple pagoda miyajima hiroshima the interior of the Senjokaku and view of the pagoda

Daisho-in Temple

(free admission, opening hours 8-17)
A Buddhist temple of the Shingon sect, at the base of Mount Misen. The various small temples that are located along the paths to the top of the mountain formally all belong to this temple.

Miyajima Aquarium

(admission 1400 yen, opening hours 9-17, closed on dec 26-30)
A recently renovated aquarium, it has many specimens (about 13,000) both from the Seto Inland Sea (where the island is located) and other parts of the world. There are also shows with sea lions and penguins.
However, if, as many tourists do, you are going to visit Miyajima for half a day, I think it is not worth spending "precious" hours by visiting this aquarium. If you would like to visit an aquarium will can find many others in Japan (in Tokyo, Enoshima, Osaka there are some quite famous).

Mount Misen

Mount Misen is the highest of the island and reaches a peak of 500 meters above sea level.
You can reach the top through one of the three paths (rather long, they take 100-120 minutes), or by taking the ropeway (Miyajima Ropeway, opening hours 9-16:30, 1000 YEN one way, 1800 YEN round trip), but it doesn't take you right to the top, but to about 400 m high and 1 km far from the peak.
From the top of Mount Misen you can enjoy a spectacular view of the sea and, on clear days, the city of Hiroshima. Along the paths, often happens to meet wild deers and monkeys.
Mount Misen, as well as the whole island, has been over the centuries a place of meditation for many religious monks, in fact along the path between the arrival point of the cable car and the peak, there are several Buddhist religious buildings (formally belonging to the Daisho-in Temple) that you can see in this map.
miyajima mount misen map
view from the topo of mount misen miyajima hiroshima view from the topo of mount misen miyajima hiroshima view from the top of Mount Misen
deers on mount misen miyajima hiroshima monkeys on mount misen miyajima hiroshima wild deers and monkeys met on the island of Miyajima

Eating in Miyajima

Sleeping in Miyajima

Pratical guide, how to get to Miyajima and map

Miyajima is an island and there are no bridges connecting it to the mainland, so it can be reached only by boat, primarily from the pier of Miyajimaguchi (宮島口).
From the city of Hiroshima you can reach this pier both by train (JR Sanyo Line from Hiroshima station to Miyajimaguchi Station, 400 YEN, 25 minutes) and by streetcar (line n.2, 270 YEN, 70 minutes).

The boat trip takes 10 minutes and is served by two companies: the JR (free of charge for Japan Rail Pass holders) and the Matsudai Ferries.
If you have not a Japan Rail Pass, you can choose randomly which to take, since they cost the same (170 YEN one way).
Considering both companies, there are about 7/8 departures every hour: at this link the JR timetable, at this other link the Matsudai timetable.

The company Aqua Net offers instead a directly connection from the center of the city of Hiroshima, departing from a pier near the Peace Park.
The journey takes about 50 minutes and costs 1900 YEN one way, 3400 YEN round trip. At this link you can find the timetable and some other information.

View Miyajima in a larger map

Guided tours, activities and other things to do

If you are planning a trip to Japan and you want to add something special besides the visit of the different monuments and famous places, we suggest you to use the site Govoyagin. This is a very useful site to enrich your travel experience, especially if you are going solo or it's your first time in Japan and, for language barriers and more, and you will not have many opportunities to interact with the locals and to enjoy something different from the famous places marked in the tourist guides.

What Govoyagin is

Govoyagin is a website where you can find many particular activities all over Japan (and not only in Japan).
You can buy tickets online for some famous attractions, but also book tours and really special experiences with locals ready to guide you and take you to places outside the tourist circuits that you would hardly ever find by yourself. Last but not least, you can reserve a table in hundreds of restaurants.

Some examples

On Govoyagin you can buy tickets in advance to visit the Tokyo Tower or the Tokyo Sky Tree, but also book guided tours of Kyoto temples accompanied by a samurai, or to go around the streets of Osaka on a go-kart dressed as Super Mario, or even play videogames against an unbeatable Japanese otaku at his place.
Last but not least, if you need to reserve your table in some restaurants, such as the legendary 3-star Michelin, also in this case you can find this kind of service for sale on Govoyagin. Take a look at Govoyagin

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Author: Davide Lee