A Quick Miyajima Day Trip Travel Guide
A Miyajima day trip is something that everyone should consider adding to their Japan itinerary, especially if it’s your first time visiting Japan. Miyajima Island is a short distance from Hiroshima and can be easily visited for half a day or longer if your schedule allows it. In this Miyajima itinerary, we will cover transportation, things to do in Miyajima, and how you can maximize your time there.
The first question people always ask us about visiting Hiroshima and/or Miyajima Island is: “How much time do we need?” Quickly followed by: “Can I do everything in an overnight stay or just do a day trip to Miyajima?” The answer to that is yes, you CAN do Miyajima Island and Hiroshima as a day trip but you need to make sure you are strategic and disciplined.
We’ve visited Miyajima Island several times and most of the time we’ve only stayed one or two nights in the area. If you plan to only spend one day visiting Miyajima Island and Hiroshima the best suggestion we have is to START EARLY, visit Hiroshima first, and then go to Miyajima Island. Most people arrive from another major city in Japan like Osaka or Kyoto so if you can, take the first train out that morning to maximize your time.
Where is Miyajima Island Located?
Miyajima Island (also known as Itsukushima Island) is a small island in Japan located about an hour by train and ferry from Hiroshima City which is why a Miyajima day trip is easy to add to your Hiroshima itinerary. It is known for gorgeous forests, temples, and shrines, including the infamous vermillion-colored “floating” torii gate.
How to Get to Miyajima Island
As I said earlier, we’ve been to Miyajima Island many times but each time has been very different in season, experience, and modes of transportation. We’ve traveled by train and by rental car but for the sake of this day trip to Miyajima itinerary, we’re going to tell you about traveling to Miyajima via public transportation. If you want to know more about renting a car and driving in Japan check out this Japan road trip post.
When we arrived in Hiroshima we took the train to Hiroden-Miyajimaguchi Station which is closest to the JR Ferry that will take you to Miyajima Island. Since we had our JR Pass the Miyajima ferry was at no extra charge otherwise it is only around 180 yen one-way.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the Miyajima ferry timetable and the train schedule to head back to your previous destination if you are only doing a Miyajima day trip. The last trains leave from Miyajima or Hiroshima between 8pm-10pm depending on your destination and time of year.
The Miyajima ferry ride is a short trip and allows you to view the floating Torii Gate on the water as you pull up to the dock. After exiting the ferry you will most likely be greeted by a BUNCH of Miyajima deer (if you want to see more deer while in Japan consider doing a Nara day trip too!). They are friendly but pushy. Don’t feed them, pet them, or leave them alone with your bags! We’ve seen them help themselves to many people’s backpacks and purses!
Where to Stay on Miyajima Island
Staying the night on Miyajima Island or nearby will help you beat the crowds, especially during the most popular times to visit Miyajima Island (Sakura season, Golden Week, and other holidays). If you are considering staying the night, here are a few places we’ve stayed and others we recommend.
Accommodations on Miyajima Island
Accommodations near Miyajima Island
Accommodations in Hiroshima
BUDGET: J-Hoppers Hiroshima Guest House
MID-RANGE/BUSINESS: Mitsui Garden Hotel Hiroshima
LUXURY: Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel – We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel on a recent trip and loved how close it was to Hiroshima Station. The rooms are luxurious and spacious! This is a great hotel for those looking for a high-end place to stay or those traveling with family.
Things to Do on A Miyajima Day Trip
Visit Itsukushima Shrine & the Floating Torii Gate
After getting off the ferry you’ll get a close-up view of Itsukushima Shrine and it’s the first place I recommend visiting after you arrive on the island because it gets busier as the day goes on.
Itsukushima Shrine is dedicated to the three Munakata goddesses, Tagitsuhime, Tagorihime, and Ichikishimahime, which are protectors of the seas, fortune, and safety. It was first built in 593 but the unique construction you’ll see today is from 1168 when it was remodeled by Taira-no-Kiyomori.
Itsukushima’s placement on the water with the stunning mountain backdrop is evidence of Kiyomori’s incredible vision and dedication to such a spiritual place. Itsukushima translates to “island dedicated to the gods” and there is something to be said about the calming effect this island always has on me each time I visit, even when the streets are bustling with people.
Of course, while at Itsukushima Shrine, take some time to enjoy the views of the Floating Torii Gate. The O-Torii you’ll see today was erected in 1875 and is a designated National Important Cultural Property and perhaps the most iconic attraction on Miyajima Island. It stands at around 16.6 meters (nearly 55 feet) and weighs around 60 tons. Starting at the top, you’ll see a thatched cypress bark roof followed by the main pillars which are made from camphor trees while the supporting pillars are made with cedar.
At high tide, you can witness the torii seemingly “floating” in the water. But at low tide, you can walk out to where the water once was! However, if you are visiting during low tide, make sure you DO NOT put any coins in the cracks of the O-Torii. You might notice that others have done this, but it does not bring you good luck, vibes, or anything of the sort. Instead, it causes the wood to crack and split which has previously damaged this historic landmark. It was recently under construction for several years to repair such damage!
If you can follow this Miyajima day trip itinerary in the afternoon or early evening, our favorite time to visit Miyajima Island is right before sunset. The way the sky looks on the water and by the mountains is truly something magical. I’m sure it looks the same at sunrise but we haven’t had the chance to witness it yet! Most people gather together on the side closest to the temple. But we recommend walking to the other side where there is a narrow beach if you’d like to have a more secluded and quiet place.
While most people choose to add a Miyajima day trip to see Itsukushima Shrine, there are many other things to do in Miyajima that often are overlooked. If you have some additional time, we encourage you to see the other charming places on this beautiful island.
READ MORE: Things to Know About Driving A Car in Japan
Stroll Omotesando Shopping Street & Machiya Street
After visiting Itsukushima Shrine you can stroll down Omotesando Shopping Street and nearby Machiya Street to shop for souvenirs and hand-made crafts such as wood carvings and pottery. Many restaurants and food stalls line the streets where you can grab a bite to eat – we always stop at a few food stalls for a quick snack like fish cakes, Miyajima Island beer, roasted sweet potatoes, and ice cream too. Deer poop ice cream is a novelty on Miyajima Island that is fun to get at least once (don’t worry there is no real deer poop involved)!
Try Miyajima Island Oysters
Oysters are a delicacy in the Hiroshima Prefecture and Miyajima Island has many different ways they prepare oysters! A few of these are, grilled on a charcoal barbecue on the half shell, oyster gratin, oyster curry, and many other ways. You can find Miyajima Island oysters at roadside stands along Omotesando shopping street or at oyster restaurants on the island.
Miyajima History and Folklore Museum
If you are interested in the history of the island or history in general, we recommend visiting the Miyajima History and Folklore Museum. This museum is within the preserved house and storehouse that belonged to the Egami family, a prosperous merchant family on the island. Today it is home to over 1,000 historical artifacts of importance to the island including screen prints, paintings, ancient documents, woodcrafts, and other artifacts.
Hours: Sunday-Saturday: 9am-5pm (Closed Mondays)
Cost: 300 yen
Try Momiji Manju
Each time we make a day trip to Miyajima Island, the first stop we always make is to get momiji manju from one of the many shops that line the streets – the smell is just so enticing! Momiji manju is a maple leaf-shaped buckwheat and rice cake that is filled with a variety of flavored custards or red bean paste. Each momiji manju shop is reasonably priced at roughly 180¥-220¥ a piece. Our personal favorites are the classic red bean, matcha & white bean, custard, and chocolate.
There are quite a few shops that sell this delicate and spongy cake – but Okinadou is one of the most well-known shops for momiji manju right at the ferry terminal. We also heard rumors that it was the first momiji manju shop to put custard in as a filling! Another spot we’ve enjoyed momiji manju from is Momijido located on Omotesandō Shopping Street. Be sure to try a variety of flavors and don’t hesitate to bring some back with you from your Miyajima day trip to enjoy later.
Visit Daisho-in Temple
If you’re looking for a quiet place to visit away from the bigger crowds, take a short walk to Daisho-in Temple. Daisho-in is the oldest Buddhist temple in Miyajima and houses many notable artifacts such as an 11-headed Kannon Bosatsu. In the fall, the temple is glowing with beautiful foliage. From Daisho-in Temple you can also hike to Mount Misen for a panoramic view of Miyaijma.
Location: Takimachi-210 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0592, Japan // MAP
Enjoy the Scenery at Momijidani Park
A short walk away from Itsukushima Shrine is Momijidani Park. Momijidani Park is a quiet, scenic area that is located right next to the Momijidani River. It is most popular to visit during autumn when all of the colorful fall foliage is brightly shining on the hundreds of Japanese maple trees. Honestly, I think it is one of the most beautiful places to visit during autumn in Japan. But it’s also pretty many other times of the year as well. If you want a place to relax or even have a picnic with food from a konbini (convenience store – trust us, it’s great!) this is the perfect place to do so.
Location: Japan, 〒739-0541 Hiroshima, Hatsukaichi, Miyajimacho, 紅葉谷 // MAP
Take the Miyajima Ropeway to the Sacred Mt. Misen
After visiting Momijidani Park consider taking a ride on the Miyajima Ropeway which connects Momijidani Park to Mt. Misen, the highest mountain on Miyajima Island. To take the ropeway you’ll start at Momijidani Station. You can either walk to the station which takes around 15 minutes or take the free shuttle bus at the Momijidani Park Entrance. The bus operates every 20 minutes from ~9:50 AM-3:45 PM (going to the ropeway) and takes around 3 minutes.
Once at Momijidani Station take the circulating ropeway to Kayatani Station (10-minute ride, 8-person max). You’ll then transfer at Kayatani Station to the funicular ropeway (5-minute ride, 30 person max) to reach Shishiiwa Station which is a short distance from the Shishiiwa Observatory on Mt. Misen.
Mt. Misen is considered to be a sacred place for thousands of years and you can find evidence of its spiritual presence in many different places on its summit. For starters, the panoramic view at the summit is simply incredible because you’re able to see a panoramic view of the whole island! Other spiritual places to visit on the summit are the temples that are related to the prominent Buddhist priest Kobo Daishi and the eternal flame, Kiezu-no-hi.
Kiezu-no-hi, also known as “the eternal flame” is a holy fire that Kobo Daishi used during his religious training that has been continuously burning for over 1,200 years. It was also the fire used as the pilot light for the “Flame of Peace” at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. If you already hiked up Mt. Misen after visiting Daisho-in Temple or Momijidani Park but still want to experience the ropeway you can then take it back down!
Ropeway Cost: 2,000 yen adults (round-trip), 1,000 yen children (round-trip)
Mt. Misen Hiking Map
Miyajima Island is such a special place to visit and it’s well worth the short trip from Kyoto or Osaka when visiting Japan!
READ MORE: Hiroshima Day Trip Itinerary