Japan: Miyajima Island
Today I want to tell you about an amazingly beautiful place near Hiroshima. Miyajima Island in Japan is only an hour by train from Hiroshima, but the experience is like a whole trip to Japan.
If you find yourself in Hiroshima, be sure to check out the area. Don’t forget your camera
Miyajima Island in Japan is all about breathtaking scenery, beautiful temples, and completely tame deer. The main decoration of Miyajima Island is the scarlet torii of Itsukushima shrine, as if floating on the turquoise waters of the bay. Deer on Miyajima Island roam completely free and ask tourists for food.
But more about that later! First, how to get to the reindeer island from Hiroshima. Look for Itsukushima (the shrine) or Miyajima (the island itself) on the map.
How to get to Itsukushima
- Near the island there is a railway station of the same name, Miyajimaguchi . It takes about an hour by train from Hiroshima station on JR line.
- The second way to get from Hiroshima to Miyajima is by streetcar. It is cheaper, but will take twice as long.
Miyajima Island is very popular among foreigners and Japanese. So it is strongly advised to fortify yourself before the trip or buy something to take with you. There are several eateries near the Miyajimaguchi station, but there is always a line. There are a couple of cafes on Miyajima Island itself, but there are even more tourists there.
To the southwest of the port there’s a nice place: a restaurant ガスト. No queues, a great selection of food, Japanese and Western dishes.
The unusual spicy udon (?) with oysters is the pride of Hiroshima. They are especially big and juicy here. We’ll tell you more about oysters later.
Are you refreshed? Then you take a ferry to Miyajima.
To get to Miyajima Island, you need to take a ferry. The boat is only 10 minutes away and leaves from the pier quite often, every 10-20 minutes. Ticket to the ferry to Miyajima you can buy in a special machine:
Note the New Year’s decorations above the vending machine – you can see these things above every door in the first days of January.
Waiting to board the ferry. You can already see the scarlet torii from here:
The most beautiful scarlet torii on the water belong to the Itsukushima Shrine. A very beautiful view of Itsukushima torii can be seen from the ferry to Miyajima.
Here they are, the Itsukushima Shrine torii (厳島神社). The view is rightly considered one of the most beautiful in Japan.
The ferry has arrived at the port of Miyajima. Welcome to the shore!
When you arrive on the island, you are greeted by a map of the area, clearly showing you what is where. The island is quite mountainous. The tourist part of Miyajima is located around the temple and torii, along the coast.
The coolest experience on the island is of course the Miyajima deer ! They’re all over the place
Important: Tourists on Miyajimea Island are not allowed to feed deer. No reindeer food, like in Nara, is sold here, and you can’t give your own food to the reindeer either.
I don’t recommend touching reindeer either: after all, they are wild animals that can get sick.
I don’t know if the Miyajima reindeer want to be petted, but they definitely don’t agree with the food point! That’s why when they see a rustling bag in your hands, they will jump on you with their hooves. This woman didn’t have anything in her hands at all – maybe she just smelled good .
But the girl was unlucky – she and the reindeer were about the same weight class:
Not getting any food from the child, the deer looked sad. Then one of the tourists who came to Miyajima, forgetting the rules, rushed to feed the reindeer.
An enlightened deer: contemplating the world, oblivious of the noise and bustle.
And this deer on Miyajima amazed us with its rich facial expressions! He was licking, slyly squinting and even seemed to laugh at us .
Of course, the reindeer on Miyajima island look very fragile and defenseless – real Bambi! So people feed them anyway.
It’s not clear whether the reindeer was fed or whether it took something away on its own.
An important point: Miyajima is an island, and the torii stand on water. So before you go to the island, it’s worth deciding what time of day it’s best to go to Miyajima.
- At low tide, the seabed beneath the torii of the Itsukushima Shrine becomes bare and you can walk under the gate. It is said to bring good luck and wish fulfillment. But: don’t expect beautiful photos, as the bottom of the torii will be covered in mud and hordes of tourists
- At high tide on Miyajima, you can admire the torii in all their glory. But you can’t go under them.
We happened to be on Miyajima Island just as the tide was coming in. So we had time to take pictures and walk under the trees and make a wish.
The sea receded, exposing the seabed.
Tourists stroll under the orange cinnabar-covered torii of the Itsukushima shrine. This is how they are called, O-Torii. Because the torii stand on the water, the bottom has to be changed all the time. And the construction is enormous! Photos don’t convey the size of these beautiful torii.
At high tide on Miyajima, the water level of the torii is higher than human height. You can see the tide calendar on the official website of Miyajima Island.
The base of the torii is covered with mollusks, and people have been shoving coins in among them for some reason. So did we.
While we were doing these simple things and taking pictures, streams were running under our feet on the muddy bottom – the tide was coming in.
Curiously enough, the torii of Itsukushima just stand on the ground – they are not screwed in or fixed in any way. It’s all held together by the power of engineering .
The best selfies, traditionally, are taken on the phone.
We were on Miyajima Island on the first of January, and many Japanese were wearing amulets. These are hamaya, an arrow that scares away demons. Such souvenirs are sold in Shinto temples in Japan, especially during the New Year holidays. Let me remind you that the new year is the year of the dog.
One of the oldest Buddhist temples on Miyajima Island, Daiganji (大願寺).
Along the main street on Miyajima Island, everything is packed with eateries and kiosks selling goodies like yakitori and dango, and lots of souvenir stores. Mostly local treats are sold: maple leaf cakes and the famous Hiroshima oysters.
If you find yourself on Miyajima Island in Japan, be sure to try the Hiroshima oysters. On Miyajima, they are grilled, fried, dipped in different sauces and even wine. It smells amazing:
The oysters at Miyajima are gigantic, juicy and delicious.
It was very tasty. Be sure to try it!
It’s getting dark, and it’s time to head back to the ferry. There are noticeably less people on Miyajima Island, and deer with funny white butts are still roaming along the creek:
One last look at the torii at Itsukushima Shrine – there’s already a noticeable increase in water.
Traveling through Japan, now and then you come across places where the Japanese gods, the kami, are believed to live. But Miyajima is special, too! It is believed that Miyajima Island is a deity itself. That’s why the sanctuary of Itsukushima was built on the water, so as not to disturb the god.
For a long time the road to Miyajima Island in Japan for ordinary mortals was closed. Now there are many ryokans on Miyajima and anyone can stay overnight on the island.
And this is a little souvenir from Miyajima – Momiji Manju cakes in the shape of a maple leaf. They come with bean paste, green tea, and custard.
When we came ashore, we were struck by the beauty of the island. I have never seen a more beautiful place in my life.
The azure sea, the coast, everything is so beautiful.
The only thing that made us tense a little – the poop of the locals – deer . But you get used to them quickly, especially after visiting Nara.
Then we went to the benches, sat down and enjoyed the beauty of the sea.
You can watch the TimeLapse we made while enjoying the sea.
The views of the sea here are some of the most delightful.
From time to time deer harassed us and others.
One guy tried to get into my backpack and dislodge my camera. Reindeer are especially clingy to those who eat.
They even eat paper/wrappers. They seem more hungry here than in Nara.
Although I have one assumption: I haven’t seen any deer sambay stalls on the island, they probably eat less than in Nara.
Here’s our approximate route around Itsukushima Island.
While walking around Miyajima Island, we caught the Chrysanthemum Festival. As always, traditionally the men gathered to carry Mikoshi (神輿) to the temple!
During the procession one gets the impression that the mikosi are floating above the human sea. They rise and fall, sway from side to side, and seem about to turn over. Usually such processions follow a specific, predetermined route.
What a lot of people we met along the way! Then we met a tengu (mythological entity)!
Then we met this monster that scares little children and makes them cry.
It is believed that crying and crying is good for health. But many physicians doubt the usefulness of the ceremony, which can provoke a nervous breakdown.
The whole trek around the island is accompanied by incredibly fabulous scenery.
The coolest thing is that there are benches everywhere so you can sit quietly and enjoy the view of the sea.
Itsukushima Island (Miyajima): opinion by Venasera.ru
There are no words to describe this beauty. I recommend it to everyone! The maximum score is 5+!
Itsukushima Shrine ⛩
And we were getting closer and closer to the temple complex.
And here we came to the world famous Great Torii (大鳥居) .
This is the red gate .
Itsukushima Shrine with its beautiful Torii is considered one of the three most beautiful views in Japan (日本三景), along with the “bridge in the sky” in Amanohashidate (天橋立) in Kyoto Prefecture and the pine islands in Matsushima (松島) in Miyagi Prefecture.
“Gate” stands in the sea 200 meters from the shore and was built in 1875, the height of the two central columns is 16.2 meters. There is a belief that a person who manages to pass under this gate will find happiness and prosperity.
These torii are the unofficial symbol of Japan.
The current 16-meter-high gate was built of camphor wood in 1875. At high tide, the sea floods the land all the way to the Sanctuary, as it did in our case.
And at the end of the second article about Fr. Miyajima you can watch the tide go out and you can walk to that Torii in the distance and even pass it.
Entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine costs 300 yen (about $3).
Be sure to visit this place!
It looks more spectacular in person!
It’s better to go there with an overnight stay so you can go early in the morning to see Itzukushima Shrine, because it’s always crowded, and you can go there in the morning when no one is here!
Itsukushima Shrine: Venasera.ru’s opinion
It is definitely worth a visit at least once!
After we passed through Itzukushima Sanctuary we saw a souvenir shop.
The view at Itsukushima Shrine is gorgeous!
While I was sitting on the bench eating the sushi I bought, my friend was looking at the souvenirs and then we went to buy mugs together.
Walking around the island, we decided to move a little further inland.
We came across a very nice hill – from there we could see the shore we were walking on and that gorgeous Torii!
When we came down the hill we went for a walk in the narrow streets of Miyajima.
We met a lot of deer in the alleys.
And we kept making our way deeper and deeper into the mountains.
Next, we walked toward Mount Misen and came upon a temple crowded with Jizo.
It was the Daisyo-in Temple .
We entered through the main gate of Niomon (仁王門) into the temple. At the entrance, at the gate, you will be greeted by such gate guards.
After passing through the gate, we saw the stairs to the Onarimon Gate (御成門), along which there is a string of bronze cylinders with scrolls inside.
Touching the cylinders promises incredible luck.
Opposite Kannon-do Hall (観音堂), there are Ema tablets (絵馬).
Also, there are some small altars with different Buddhas-Syaka Nyorai, Amida Nyorai, Yakushi Nyorai-and there are plenty of statues of jizo.
I bought a candle there for 30 yen and an omikuji for 50 yen.
The amount of jizo here is off the charts!
And we moved on.
Then we met Tanuki asking for money.
Daisyo-in Temple: an opinion from Venasera.ru
Although the entrance is free I personally did not enjoy the place, it is very gloomy and the atmosphere is kind of weird. So I can’t give you more than a 1 out of 5 point. I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on this place.
Once down, we walked along the coast in the light of the sunset.
The locals got a little tired too!
Miyajima Island is full of beautiful structures, here is one of them, the 5 tier pagoda (五重塔).
We returned to Hiroshima City, to our hotel.
After returning to our hotel in Hiroshima, we went to bed and the next day we drove to Fukuoka (福岡), the capital of Kyushu Island (九州)!