Miyajima is a stunning island located just off the coast of Hiroshima that is most famous for its ‘floating’ crimson Torii gate. But beyond this iconic World Heritage Site, you’ll also find gorgeous coastal walks, serene mountain temples and dozens of friendly deer. Read on to learn more about what this island gem has to offer!
Miyajima Island is very easy to navigate from the ferry port, and after a brief walk you’ll find yourself at Itsukushima Shrine. Featuring lacquered crimson beams set against the deep blue of the sea, it comes as no surprise that this 1400 year old shrine is a registered World Heritage Site. At high tide, this shrine offers a magical view of the ‘Floating Gate’ that more than lives up to its reputation as one of Japan’s top three scenic spots. If you wait for a low tide, you can also walk out across the beach and see the gate up close!
Just like Nara, Miyajima is home to dozens of friendly deer that wander along the beach and mingle with tourists. Unlike Nara, however, you won’t find any deer biscuits to feed them, so be sure to watch your own food and belongings carefully so that they don’t end up as a deer snack!
If you continue on past Itsukushina Shrine, you’ll come upon Daisho-in. One of the most important temples in Shingon Buddhism, this beautiful place of worship rests at the base of Mount Misen and is home to many interesting statues and mandalas. For example, a side path at the temple entrance is lined with over a hundred buddhist statues, each wearing a variety of multi-hued bonnets. Towards the back of the temple complex, you’ll also find a lantern lit cave filled with 88 icons representing the temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage.
Daisho-in Temple also marks the start of the Mount Misen climbing trail. Meandering up past waterfalls and mountain streams, this hike offers beautiful panoramic views of the bay below and at dusk, you can enjoy the lights of Hiroshima city. Although the hike only takes 1-2 hours, the steep incline and rocky paths make it a bit of a workout so be sure to pack plenty of water!
If your legs are too tired to make the journey back down the mountain, or if hiking’s not your thing, there’s also a cable car option which allows you to enjoy sky high views of the verdant forest below! If you get your timing right, you can also ride the cable car in time to catch the sunset.
Travelling around Japan? Check out our blog on Kyoto for inspiration on what to see there!