Miyajima Island, or Shrine Island, is a ‘must see’ destination when visiting Japan.
Your first sight of the island will be the orange timber beams of Japan’s well-known landmark, the great Torii of Miyajima. The Torii stands sentinel in the bay as the boundary between the spirit and the human world.
Temples and Shrines
Miyajima Island represents a combination of Buddhism and Shintoism and is known for its many shrines, temples and statues that are scattered throughout the island. The five-storied pagoda and the Itsukushima Shrine are just two of the structures you will see on your visit to Miyajima Island. Each of these structures dates back hundreds of years and is steeped in history.
The five-storied pagoda (above) was originally constructed in 1407 and enshrined the Buddha of Medicine. The pagoda’s stunning red and black colour scheme continually captures your attention as you move around the island. The Itsukushima Shrine has an even longer history with construction first starting in 1168. The shrine was then rebuilt in 1571 after being damaged by fire. Both structures are extremely well maintained and are heritage listed.
Momijidani Park is located at the base of Mt Misen and is an idyllic location for a walk. Momijidani Park, or Maple Leaf Park, was named for its 200-maple trees which provide a stunning array of colours in autumn. If you prefer pinks to autumn colours you should time your visit for the cherry blossom flowers in the spring.
You should take your time as you wander along the pathways and discover trickling waterfalls and traditional Japanese bridges. For a more challenging walk, take one of the three trails that lead to the summit of Mt Misen where you will be rewarded with stunning views.
Miyajima Island is home to a very large and very tame population of Sika deer. Sika Deer are sacred animals in Japan because of their significance in the Shinto religion; there was a time when it would result in the penalty of death if you were to harm them.
The deer are very friendly and are not the least wary of tourists. If anything the deer are quite pushy; especially if they can smell food on you. You should watch your belongings at all times as they will try to eat your clothes, guide maps and even the contents of your handbag. Bags hanging off the handles of prams are an easy target for them.
Getting To Miyajima Island
The island is located in Hiroshima Bay and is accessible via ferry. To get there from Hiroshima you should catch the train from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi Station on the JR Sanyo Line. From there it is a short walk to the ferry terminal where you catch the JR Ferry to the island.
The ferry trip takes about 5-10 minutes and leaves every 15 minutes. The train from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi station takes about 30 minutes.
The cost for both of these journeys will be covered by your Japan Rail Pass.
You should plan to spend the entire day on Miyajima Island visiting the shrines, hiking the nature trails and exploring the local shops. Click here for more details.
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