And in this exact site, a grand torii gate has been standing since 1168 AD.
Thinking about adding day trip from Hiroshima to Miyajima to your Japan itinerary? You’ve come to the right place! Not only is it a delightful day out, Itsukushima Shrine with its Grand Torii gate that graces the pages of travel brochures is one of the most visited destinations in all the country.
Miyajima Island one of Japan’s top experiences and when you visit, you’ll easily understand why.
Most visitors prefer to flock to the island at high tide to catch the 16 metre-high vermilion gate peacefully floating on the bay. But did you know the trip is just as worthwhile if you visit during low tide? Read on to find out why and the best way to get from Hiroshima to Miyajima – and more!
This day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima is part of my detailed 2 Weeks in Japan Itinerary, so be sure to take a look for more inspiration and tips for Japan!
This Hiroshima to Miyajima guide will cover:
Where to stay in Hiroshima
Royal RIHGA Hotel, Hiroshima リーガロイヤルホテル広島宴会.
I stayed here for two nights during my visit to Hiroshima and Miyajima. Based on the reviews, I requested a corner room overlooking Hiroshima Castle above the 26th floor. My goodness, I felt so fortunate when the hotel delivered on my request! The 180° view over Hiroshima was absolutely breathtaking and made my visit extra special, as I could appreciate the beauty of the city from above.
This hotel is in a top location close to restaurants, shops, the A-Dome Memorial, parks and transport. About JPY 1000 in a taxi from Hiroshima station if you have luggage. Staff were English speaking and the concierge very helpful! The room was very spacious, clean and tidy. Would most definitely stay again!
TIP: As a general rule with accommodation, you get much more for your money in Hiroshima compared to Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka. A room with this view is most definitely worth it, especially at sundown!
How to get from Hiroshima to Miyajima Island
Getting to Miyajima from Hiroshima is very easy if you stay in the city centre. From RIGHA Hotel as I’ve recommended above, the Motoyasubashi Pier to catch the Aquanet direct ferry is an easy and flat 8-minute walk (more on this below). Head towards the A-Bomb dome and you’ll find the small ferry terminal beside Motoyasu Bridge.
Comparison of return ferries from Hiroshima to Miyajima
Aquanet Direct Ferry
I highly recommend the Aquanet Direct Ferry and think it’s the best way to get from Hiroshima to Miyajima. It’s the fastest and only direct way to get to the island, meaning there’s more time to spend exploring when you get there!
Called the World Heritage Sea Route, this express journey is a beautiful way to see Hiroshima from the water and the bonus is it departs from beside the Peace Memorial Park in the city centre. No booking is necessary, you’re able to turn up at the pier to purchase your ticket and wait for the next ferry. Check the Aquanet Ferry Timetable for departure times.
Time on ferry: approx. 40mins (route may change depending on tide level).
Cost: Adults JPY 3,600 return
First Beach Co Ltd.
An alternative option is using First Beach Co. Ltd (Setonaikaikisen) ferries. Departing from Hiroshima Port in the city’s south, rather than from Hiroshima Peace Park means you’ll need to add about 45mins travel time from the city to port via bus and walk almost 2 kilometres.
These ferries also stop at Grand Prince Hotel Hiroshima along the way, then onto Miyajima. Some boats make additional stops at Kannon Pier and Hiroshima Festival Outlets Marina, which can add almost half an hour to your journey each way. Check First Beach Co. Ltd Ferry Timetable for departure times.
Time on bus/walking: 45mins
Time on ferry: approx. 30mins
Cost: Bus, Adults JPY 200 each way / Ferry, Adults JPY 3300 return
I have taken the JR Ferry across to Miyajima once and I would not do it again. This is my least favourite option due to the amount of extra travel time compared to a TurboJet ferry. Although aside from the tram which you need a IC card for, this journey is covered by the JR Railpass.
From Hiroshima Peace Park, you need to take a tram to JR Hiroshima station. From here, take the JR Sanyo line to Miyajimaguchi (approx 25mins) where it’s a two-minute walk to the JR Ferry terminal. This ferry takes about 10 minutes to Miyajima. For me personally, the extra travel time on the tram, train then ferry takes too long, so take this into account when planning your trip.
Things to do in Miyajima
Miyajima Island, known formally as Itsukushima (shrine island) is worth a full day of your time so you can visit many sights without being rushed about! Here are some things to do in Miyajima:
Visit Itsukushima Shrine
Visit the famous Itsukushima Shrine (Itsukushima-jinja). Originally built over the water in 593 AD, the shrine is made up of 20 wooden buildings connected by boardwalks and has given the island its name. It really is unique and a must-visit for any Miyajima day trip! (Cost: JPY 300 ea or JPY 500 ea including Treasure Hall).
Admire the Grand Torii Gate
Admire the Grand Torii Gate, one of the most visited attractions in the country. Would you believe there’s been a torii gate floating here since the 12th century? Today’s vermilion gate dates back to the 19th century and is an internationally recognised icon of Japan.
NOTE: From June 2019 – August 2020, The Grand Torii Gate will be under restoration and repair work. Its iconic vermilion colour will be repainted for the first time in 15 years, and its roof replaced for the first time in 25 years. Damage inflicted upon the Torii by tourists jamming coins into cracks will also be investigated and repaired (more on this below). For more updates, visit Itsukushima Shrine’s Official website (in Japanese).
See the sacred deer
Make a furry friend out of the sacred deer that roam freely around the island. In ancient times, these deer were thought to be messengers from the gods.
TIP: buy some deer food for JPY 150 from a stall to feed the deer. Please don’t feed them human food because it has been known to make deer quite sick. Be warned, they will go after your paper items such as bags and maps and may kick or butt if they feel threatened. Overtourism in Japan is having a negative impact on these deer, so please be mindful when you visit their home and don’t be that annoying tourist.
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Go souvenir shopping
Stroll along Omotesando street. You’ll find lots of cafes, ice cream shops, souvenir stores and the world’s largest wooden rice spoon located near the post office. Keep an eye out for stealthy deer trying to nibble your belongings! Miyajima is one of my favourite places in Japan for souvenirs, they have so much variety in the small, family-run stores.
Head to Mt Misen’s peak
The quickest and less-exhausting way is to take the ropeway up to the top of Mt Misen, the island’s highest peak (cost: JPY 1000 one way, JPY 1800 return). Having visited Miyajima twice now and the ropeway being closed on BOTH my visits (how unlucky), I decided to make the trek up to the summit during my second visit.
You guys, this is not for the faint-hearted. Despite being a hot summer’s day, I was all gung-ho to be rewarded by views from Mt Misen over the island and knew it would be a tough slog. I took the easiest Daishoin Route but in all honesty, I made it about 30 minutes out of 2.5 hours up the mountain and I was completely exhausted! I am a petite build and not overly unfit, but the stairs are just never-ending without many spots to stop and take a break.
I made it to the point 5 lookout on the below map, absolutely sweating like a pig. As I wanted to explore more of the island and knew I had at least another 2 hours of climbing to reach the summit (and BACK again!), I cut my losses and just enjoyed the view from Satomichaya Observatory. I did encounter some
NOTE: There are warning signs on the path about viper snakes and wasps. The snakes are poisonous, so tread carefully and allow these creatures ample space if you encounter them. The signs also include a phone number to call if you are bitten.
Visit more temples and gardens
Make your way up the mountain to visit Daisho-in, the temple where Shingo Bhuddism was first practiced on the island. It even has a sand mandala created by monks who visited here from Tibet.
Enjoy a break at Momiji-dani-koen (Maple Garden). In summer months, the shade is a welcome escape from the warmth. During autumn, this pretty park along the river comes alive in red hues as the leaves begin to change.
On your way back down to the town, pay Taho-to a visit, Miyajima’s five-story pagoda. Stroll around the loop path to admire it from different angles.
TIP: If time permits, the Museum of History & Folklore will give you an insight into life on the island over the centuries.
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Other helpful tips to plan your Miyajima day trip
Visiting Miyajima at low tide
Many travel guides will stipulate that it’s an absolute must to visit Miyajima during high tide. While this may be a wonderful time to visit, the reality is it may not always be possible. We can’t all plan our holidays around cycles of the moon! Obviously, if you’re fortunate enough to visit during high tide you’ll get to see the Grand Torii in all its glory (oh, that rhymes!)
Check the tide information before your trip to find out whether the Grand Torii gate will be in high or low tide during your visit.
Soooo, if it happens to be low tide – do not be disappointed! I’m here to tell you why visiting Miyajima at low tide can be beneficial, too:
- If it’s low tide, you get the added benefit of being able to walk right underneath this superb structure! Thousands of barnacles call the Grand Torii gate their home, and worshippers balanced 100 yen coins between them as an offering to the shrine and for good luck. Recently, overtourism has begun to threaten the gate, which I detail below. Take note and please don’t be that annoying tourist.
- Take some awesome close-up photos of the gate, including the intricate details written on its top.
- Appreciate how big is actually is and how high the tide reaches by examining the black marks left on the gate. This is hard to do from the shoreline!
- Look back onto Itsukushima Shrine and Miyajima island from a different perspective.
More tips for visiting Miyajima
- Take enough cash for the day! To my knowledge there are only two ATMs on the entire island: One near the post office and on the other side of town along Hatsukaichi street. You may be lucky to find on in the foreign exchange centre, but best to avoid lengthy queues and be prepared beforehand.
- Pick up a few souvenirs from Omotesando street. I bought a lovely a silk-screen scarf, T-shirts, folding fans, tsuko-tegata and delicious sweets unique to the Hiroshima region such as…
- Delicious Momiji-manju! These mini cakes are a specialty to Miyajima and were first created during the late Meiji period. Famed for its maple-leaf shape, momiji-manju are filled with red bean paste or many other flavours (invluding vanilla bean custard, my favourite!). They’re named after Moniji-dani (Maple Leaf Valley) on Miyajima island.
TIP: You can do a guided trip such as this to both Hiroshima and Miyajima on one day, but I believe it may be a bit rushed. Hiroshima and her sights, including the Memorial Museum, deserve at least one full day of your time to begin to appreciate the scale of what happened in this city on that fateful day in August 1945. Sure, you can quickly skim over them to say you’ve been if your time is limited. But as I always like to recommend, you get more out of your experience if you’re able to take your time.
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Concluding how to get to Miyajima from Hiroshima
So, there you have it! Your easy day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima explained, as well as the many things to see and do on the island. It’s best to allow a full day to explore and catch the last ferry back to Hiroshima in the evening to make the most of your day.
I have written about loads of tips and tricks for Japan, focused around how to be an invisible tourist while you’re there. Even if it’s you’re first visit, my popular Japan archive of articles includes do’s and don’ts for visiting, hidden gems, city guides and much more. Why not take a look while you’re here? ?
Are you planning on visiting Miyajima during your visit to Japan? Let me know in the comments below! If you found this helpful or know someone who is planning a trip to Japan, please share it around! You can also come and join me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Bloglovin’ for more Japan inspiration!
Until next time,
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