Thinking about adding day trip from Hiroshima to Miyajima to your Japan itinerary? Not only is it a delightful day out, Itsukushima Shrine with its Grand Torii gate is an icon of the country, gracing the pages of travel brochures and Japan travel blogs like mine.

But there is much more to this island than the floating torii, which you’re about to find out! Miyajima Island one of the top places to visit in Japan and when you’re there in person, its spiritual aura will help you understand why.

There are three ways to get to Miyajima from Hiroshima by public transport, however the most obvious the majority of visitors use may not be right for you — because it wasn’t for me.

Having visited Miyajima three times from Hiroshima over the past decade, I’ve learnt which way best suits me and put together this guide to help you determine which will be right for you.

Hiroshima to Miyajima By Ferry: 3 Ways to Get There | The Invisible Tourist

Additionally, 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, the best way to get from Hiroshima to Miyajima by ferry – and the amazing things to do when you’re there!

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Hiroshima to Miyajima by Ferry: Here's Why it's Worth a Day Trip | The Invisible Tourist
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Map of 3 Ways to Get from Hiroshima to Miyajima By Ferry
Hiroshima to Miyajima By Ferry Map

TIP: This day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima is part of my detailed guide to meaningful & fun things to do in Hiroshima. These form parts of my larger 2 Week Japan Itinerary and 3 Week Japan Itinerary so be sure to take a look for more inspiration and tips!

 

How to get from Hiroshima to Miyajima Island

Getting to Miyajima from Hiroshima is easy if you stay in the city centre. When getting around Hiroshima, the three methods to get to the island are:

  • Express ferry from the Peace Memorial Park
  • Bus to Hiroshima Port + express ferry
  • JR train or Hiroden tram + JR ferry (most common option, covered by the Japan Rail Pass).

Let’s compare the travel times and cost for each. The reason why I don’t recommend the JR ferry may surprise you!

Round-trip Hiroshima to Miyajima ferry options comparison

Aquanet Direct Ferry

I highly recommend the Aquanet Direct Ferry from Hiroshima Peace Park to Miyajima. It’s the best way in my opinion, being the fastest and only direct way to get to the island from the city centre, meaning there’s more time to spend exploring when you get there!

From either of the 3 hotels I’ve recommended above, head to 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.

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.

  • Time on ferry: approx. 40 mins (route may change depending on tide level).
  • Aquanet Hiroshima to Miyajima ferry cost: Adults 4,000 yen return, children 6-11 years 2,200 return (under 5 are free)
  • Check the Aquanet Ferry Timetable for departure times.

NOTE: The ferry tickets are allocated on a first-come first-served basis. Choose your return time for your Miyajima to Hiroshima ferry that afternoon when booking, as the return options sell out quickly.

TIP: The round-trip ticket is valid for 2 days if you choose to spend the night on Miyajima then return to Hiroshima the next day.

Hiroshima Aquanet Ferry Pier

Standing on Mototyasu Bridge, the Aquanet ferry terminal is beneath this bridge to my right

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 45 mins 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.

  • Time on bus/walking: 45 mins
  • Time on First Beach Co. ferry: approx. 30 mins
  • Cost: Bus, Adults 200 yen each way / Ferry, Adults 3,300 yen return
  • Check the First Beach Co. Miyajima ferry timetable for departure times.

TIP: I personally haven’t tried this option, so not entirely sure of the process regarding the return ferry from Miyajima to Hiroshima.

JR Ferry

I have taken the JR Ferry across to Miyajima once and would not do it again. This is my least favourite option due to the amount of extra travel time compared to the Aquanet ferry. Although aside from the tram which you need a IC card for, this journey is covered by the Japan Rail Pass.

From Hiroshima Peace Park, you need to take a 50 mins tram ride to JR Hiroshima Station. When there, how to get to Miyajima from Hiroshima Station? Take the local JR Sanyo line (not to be confused with the Sanyo shinkansen line) to Miyajimaguchi (approx 25 mins) where it’s a two minute walk to the JR Ferry terminal. This JR ferry takes about 10 minutes to Miyajima.

  • Time on tram (Peace Park to Hiroshima Station): 50 mins
  • Time on train (Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi): 25 mins
  • JR Hiroshima to Miyajima ferry time (Miyajimaguchi to Miyajima): 10 mins
  • Cost: 230 yen each way for tram, JR train and ferry covered by the Japan Rail Pass
  • Check the JR Hiroshima to Miyajima ferry schedule for departure times.

TIP: For me personally, the total of 1 hour 25 mins travel time on the tram, train then ferry each way takes too long. That’s almost 3 hours return journey. However this option may suit you if using the JR Pass, so take the extra travel time into consideration when planning your Miyajima trip.

JR Ferry from Hiroshima to Miyajima, Japan

Things to do in Miyajima: Day trip itinerary

Miyajima Island, known formally as Itsukushima (literally “Shrine Island”) is worth a full day of your time so you can visit many sights without being rushed about! Here are some wonderful things to do in Miyajima: 

Visit Itsukushima Shrine

First up, 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: 300 yen each or 500 yen each including Treasure Hall).

TIP: It does get busy in some places of the shrine, and tourists all queue up on the pier to have a photo with the torii floating in the background. You can stand a little to the side of the tourists queuing and get almost the same picture!

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 floating here since the 12th century? Today’s vermilion gate dates is brand new and is an internationally recognised icon of Japan.

From July 2019 – December 2022, the Grand Torii underwent extensive restoration work. Its iconic vermilion colour was 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 were also investigated and repaired (more on this below).

Restoration was set to be completed by the 2020 Olympics but was delayed as the torii was found to be rotting from the inside. But now she’s complete, and isn’t she a beauty!

Grand Torii Gate of Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima Japan
The new torii

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 200 yen 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.

Don't harass the sacred deer in Nara or Miyajima

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.

Stealthy deer waiting for food from an unsuspecting tourist

Head to Mount 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. There are hikes too that I’ll detail below:

Cable car to the summit

I definitely recommend the cable car! But keep reading below to find out what to do if it’s sporadically closed (which happened to me during two of my three trips, urgh).

  • One way: Adults 1100 yen each
  • Round trip: Adults 2000 yen each
  • More details for children and groups here 
  • Operating hours: 9:00 – 16:00 daily.

The first cable car from Momijidani fits about 6 people, before transferring into a larger cable car at Kayatani to reach Shishiiwa Observatory at the summit. The views are breathtaking and you can see all the way back to Hiroshima!

View from Mt Misen summit, Miyajima

TOP: Mt Misen Cable Car ~ MIDDLE: View from Mt Misen’s summit ~ BOTTOM: View of Hiroshima through a telescope at the summit

Hike to the summit

Having visited Miyajima three times now and the ropeway being closed on two of these visits (how unlucky), I decided to make the trek up to the summit during my second trip.

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

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.

Hiroshima to Miyajima: Satomichaya Observatory

Mt Misen Climbing Guide
TOP: Satomichaya Observatory ~ BOTTOM: Mt Misen Climbing Guide Map

 

Visit Daisho-in, other 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. Don’t miss the garden of thousands of jizo (stone guardians) with their colourful hats and Henjo Cave, its ceiling covered by glowing yellow lanterns. 

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.

Visiting Miyajima at low tide

Many Miyajima travel guides will stipulate that it’s an absolute must to visit during high tide. While this may be a wonderful sight, 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 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 their home, and worshippers balanced 100 yen coins between them as an offering to the shrine and for good luck. In 2018, overtourism contributed to the destruction of 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 helpful 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. Read more in my guide to meaningful Japanese souvenirs.
  • Try the local specialty, 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 this guided trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima in 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.

Momiji-manju, delicious mini-cake

 

Concluding how to get to Miyajima from Hiroshima by ferry

So, there you have it with three options for the Hiroshima to Miyajima ferry! Now you now which will best suit for your easy day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima, 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 one of the last ferries back to Hiroshima in the evening to make the most of your day.

Which Miyajima ferry option are you planning to take? Let me know in the comments below.

I have shared loads of tips and tricks for Japan from my many months of travel, focussed around how to be an invisible tourist while you’re there. Even if it’s your first visit, my popular Japan travel blog with dozens of helpful articles includes do’s and don’ts for visiting, hidden gems, city guides, cultural etiquette, experiences and much more. Why not take a look while you’re here?

If you found this helpful or know someone who is planning a trip to Japan, please share it around! You can also explore beyond the main touristy sights with my dedicated Facebook group to Japan Off the Beaten Path, and come and join me on Facebook, PinterestInstagram and TikTok for more Japan inspiration!

Until next time,

The Invisible Tourist

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18 Comments

  1. Hi Alyse, thanks for the great info. We are planning a winter trip to Japan and are thinking about staying in Hiroshima over the new years period (30 Dec to Jan 2) and taking a day trip to Mayajima. Would any sesonal closures effect our plans? Thanks, Peter

    1. Hi Peter,
      The JR Ferry still runs over the New Year period, but runs on a different timetable. You can see the times here.
      The Aquanet Ferry from Hiroshima Peace Park operates all year. The only time they may cancel service would be due to bad weather (or if tide is too low/too high for the ferry to operate).
      So your plans over the New Year should be fine 😊

  2. Thank you for this awesome information! I’m heading to Hiroshima next week and this was exactly what I was looking for! So thank you! Just wondering how long would you need on the island to do everything you mentioned above? Thank you!

    1. Hi Reema, so glad to have helped! About 6 hours overall is great, meaning getting to the island around 9 – 10am, and leaving around the last few ferries after 4 – 4:30pm. Do check the ferry timetables directly because the last one will change based on the sunset time. Thanks so much for reading!

    2. Hi Reema, so glad to have helped! Around 5 – 6 hours is great to explore at a leisurely pace, which means getting ther around 9 – 10am and leaving on one of the last ferries around 4 – 4:30pm. Do check the ferry timetables directly though as the last one will change depending on the sunset time. Ideally though if you have the time, it would be even better to stay overnight. Thanks so much for reading and enjoy your time in Miyajima!

  3. I’m so happy I found you! We will be staying in Kyoto and doing a day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima, is that too much to do in one day? If its doable, what’s the easiest way to travel from Kyoto to Hiroshima to Miyajima? We will be in Kyoto from Saturday to Tuesday and was thinking of doing the day trip on Sunday since I read somewhere most things are closed on Monday.

    1. Hi Helen, thanks for following along!
      I know plenty of tourists that do visit Hiroshima and Miyajima in one day from Kyoto/Osaka.
      In saying that, I’ve visited both Hiroshima and Miyajima on three separate trips and am always finding new things 🙂

      Personally, I think Hiroshima is worth at least one full day as well as one full day for Miyajima so we can explore beyond the touristy crowds. In Hiroshima, that extra time allows time to visit a few of the museums, which I feel are so important to learn more about what happened in 1945.

      However if you are super short on time and absolutely need to squeeze them both into one day, Kyoto to Hiroshima by Nozomi Shinkansen then the Aquanet Ferry from the Peace Park are the fastest modes of transport (not the cheapest, but we can save time or money, not both).

      I hope that helps and you have a fantastic time in Japan!

  4. We are going to stay in Hiroshima in April to visit grandson stationed at Marine Base. We will only be there for a week. I wish I could find printed tourism information but haven’t been able to find anywhere to get any. You helped some. Thanks

    1. I’m so glad to hear that, Kathy!
      Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful time in Hiroshima & Miyajima visiting your grandson 😃

  5. we will only have a few hours to visit Miyajima, is it still worth the trip from Hiroshima? Thanks

    1. Absolutely! Miyajima is one of those places you can see as little or as much as you like. You can definitely cover all the main sights in a few hours. The option is always there to explore more of the island in a future trip 🙂

    1. Absolutely, Gerry! There is so much to see and do on Miyajima even without the Torii gate. The island is in such a beautiful setting, it’s one of the few places to interact with the sacred deer, plenty of amazing viewpoints and temples to visit. I would personally revisit again (despite being twice already) to explore even more. I hope that helps 🙂

  6. We’re planning a 4 week trip to Japan, and I am most definitely doing this day trip. Do you think it would be worth while to go for 2 days? Take more time to climb Mt Misen’s? Thanks for all your help!!!

    1. Hi Kim, from what I’ve heard it’s absolutely worth going for 2 days! The island becomes much more peaceful once the day trippers leave, at night the Grand Torii is illuminated as well as other historical buildings. One of my lovely readers mentioned to me they stayed overnight in a nice little ryokan called Momiji and they highly recommended it. And yes, definitely take your time climbing Mt Misen, that will be very rewarding. Enjoy and happy travels – thanks for your comment!

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