Less than an hour away from Hiroshima city by ferry, Miyajima is actually a nickname – the official name for this place is Itsukushima. ‘Miyajima’ means ‘shrine island’, and indeed here you’ll find countless historic and important monuments to explore.
The Itsukushima Shrine is one of Japan’s most iconic sites. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, the most famous symbol of the shrine is the bright red torii gate, which at high tide appears to be floating in the sea! Beyond the gate, there’s a prayer hall, main hall and theatre, which are connected by boardwalks, all built on the sea. The shrine and gate are lit up until 11 pm, offering spectacular views.
Charming and picturesque, there are plenty of traditional Japanese style streets and shops to browse – in fact, simply wandering around is one of the very best ways to experience Miyajima. As you wander, you’re sure to come across the incredibly cute deer that freely roam the pathways across the island!
We recommend spending at least one night on the island; most tourists visit in the day, so evenings are tranquil. To get a real taste of Japanese culture, we recommend staying in a ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel), where you’ll be able to sample authentic cuisine and customs.
For active visitors, a climb to the summit of Mount Misen on a clear day offers spectacular views, sometimes as far as Hiroshima! Daisho-in Temple, at the base of the mountain, is an important Shingon Buddhist site, while the Museum of History and Folklore is also well worth a visit.