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. It’s 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.
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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 but you need to make sure you are strategic and disciplined.
Each time we’ve visited Miyajima Island we’ve only stayed overnight, which means, collectively, we’ve only spent three days in this area. 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 vermillion colored “floating” torii gate.
How to get to Miyajima Island
We’ve been to Miyajima Island twice now and each time has been very different. By timing, experience, and modes of transportation. The first time we traveled by train and the second time we traveled 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 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 no extra charge otherwise it is only 180 yen one-way.
You’ll also want to pay attention to the Miyajima ferry timetable and the trains back to your previous destination should you only be doing a Miyajima day trip. The last trains leave from Miyajima or Hiroshima between 8pm-10pm depending on your destination.
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The Miyajima ferry ride is a short trip and allowed us to view the floating Torii Gate on the water as we pulled up to the dock. After exiting the ferry we were immediately 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 super friendly, but don’t leave them alone with your bags – They will eat ANYTHING! They even tried to eat our umbrella, HA!
Where to stay on Miyajima Island
Staying the night on Miyajima Island or nearby will definitely 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
Things to do on your 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 the Floating Torii Gate, which at high tide you can witness it “floating.” But at low tide, you can walk out to where the water once was!
Sidenote: If you are visiting during low tide, make sure you DO NOT put any coins in the cracks of the Torii Gate. You might notice that others have done this, but it does not bring you good luck, vibes, or anything of the sort. Instead, it caused the wood to crack and split more which, in the end, has damaged this iconic landmark tremendously. In fact, as of June 2019, it will be under construction to repair such damage.
If you are able to 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 beach if you’d like to have a quiet place that’s more secluded.
While most people do 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.
Stroll Omotesando Shopping Street
After visiting Itsukushima Shrine you can stroll down Omotesando Shopping Street to shop for souvenirs and hand made crafts such as wood carvings and pottery. There are also many restaurants and food stalls that line the streets where you can grab a bite to eat – we stopped at a few food stalls for a quick snack and had lightly fried fish cakes, roasted sweet potatoes, and some deer poop ice cream too (we promise it’s better than it sounds)! 😉
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 home to over 1,000 historical artifacts of importance to the island including screen paintings, replicas, and other artifacts.
Hours: Sunday-Saturday: 9am-5pm (Closed Mondays)
Cost: 300 yen
Try Momiji Manju
During our Miyajima itinerary the first stop we made was to get momiji manju from one of the many shops that line the streets – the smell was just so enticing! Momiju 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 were the classic red bean, custard, and chocolate.
There are quite a few shops that sell this filled delicate and spongy cake – but Okinadou is one of the most well-known shops for momiji manju. We also heard rumors that it was the first momiji manju shop to put custard in as a filling! Be sure to try a variety of flavors and don’t hesitate to bring some back with you from your Miyajima day trip, we won’t judge. 😉
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 (we’re aching to go back to see it for ourselves at this time!). From Daisho-in Temple you can also hike to Mount Misen for a panoramic view of Miyaijma.
A short walk away from Itsukushima Shrine is Momijidani Park. Momijidani Park is a 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. 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 7Eleven (trust us, it’s great!) this is the perfect place to do so.
Take the Miyajima Ropeway to Mt. Misen
After visiting Momijidani Park consider taking a short ride on the Miyajima Ropeway which connects from the park to Mt. Misen. The view at the top is simply incredible – you’re able to see a panoramic view of the whole island! If you already hiked up Mt. Misen after visiting Daisho-in Temple, then you can take the ropeway back down.
Hours: Sunday-Saturday: 10am-4pm
Cost: 1,800 yen/adults, 900 yen/children
After a full day in Hiroshima and Miyajima, you can either head back to the city you’re staying in such as Kyoto or Osaka, or head to your hotel for the evening.