My journey this time took me somewhere I’ve always wanted to see at least once – Miyajima. From a long ago this mystical place has been known as the “Island of Gods and men”. I’d heard about the Itsukushima Shrine with some of the best scenery in all of Japan, the sacred atmosphere of the island’s Mt. Misen, and the local delicacies of oyster and saltwater eel. Here’s my guide on how to get to Miyajima from Hiroshima Station, based on my own visit.
1. From Hiroshima to Miyajima Station.
After arriving at Hiroshima Station, I purchased the Hiroshima Electric Railway’s “1 Day Streetcar and Ferry Pass”. It’s 840yen for adults, and allows you to ride the city streetcars and take the ferry to Miyajima for the whole day.
Also, if you show your pass at the ticket counter of the Miyajima Ropeway’s Momiji-dani Station, you can get a round trip ticket on the ropeway for 1,350yen, a discount of 450yen, making it a pretty good deal.
Please note, you can’t use the green “1 day streetcar pass” to get this discount.
Start out from Hiroshima Station’s south exit, the gateway to Hiroshima!
I headed to the streetcar platform right in front of me.
I promptly bought a “1 Day Streetcar and Ferry Pass” (840yen) at the platform’s information desk.
This is what the pass looks like.
Use a coin to scratch off the day you want to travel. The pass can also be purchased at large hotels, and while on board the streetcars from the driver or conductor. If you’re planning to set out early in the morning, it’s a good idea to buy one the day before you travel.
Here it is, the Route Number 2 streetcar to Miyajimaguchi Station. I jumped right on board. Streetcars for Miyajima run every 10-12 minutes.
Combine a visit to the Genbaku Dome (Atomic Bomb Dome) with your trip to Miyajima.
When it comes to unmissable sightseeing spots in Hiroshima, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites are top of the list. You can travel between Hiroshima city center and Miyajima in about an hour, so before or after you head for the island, a visit to one of them, the Genbaku Dome, is well worth a detour.
The Genbaku Dome is the skeletal structure of a building that miraculously survived the intense heat and blast of the atomic bomb dropped by the US military during the Second World War. It has been preserved as it was in 1945, and registered as a World Heritage Site in 1996.
Barack Obama’s visit in May 2016, the first by a serving American president, recently became widely conversed.
About 15 minutes from Hiroshima Station is the Genbaku Dome-mae streetcar stop.
Get off at this stop and the Genbaku Dome is right in front of you. The bomb-damaged facade is preserved behind an off-limits perimeter fence.
There may be volunteer guides nearby to help foreign tourists and explain the history of the Dome using written materials. It seems they’re able to respond not only in English, but also Chinese, Spanish and a number of other languages.
The area around the Genbaku Dome has been decorated with multicolored Origami Cranes, an example of the traditional Japanese art of paper folding. Today these Cranes are considered a symbol of peace. They’ve been folded with the wish to bring harmony throughout the world.
After taking in this World Heritage Site, once again I boarded the streetcar to Miyajimaguchi Station (Route number 2), and headed for Miyajima.
There are so many rivers flowing through Hiroshima, and so many bridges, that it’s often called the “City of Water”. The view from the streetcar is forever changing, which makes for a really enjoyable ride to Miyajima.
From inside the streetcar you also get views of the sea. The floating rafts in the distance are used for cultivating oysters, one of Hiroshima’s specialties.
Miyajima is not far now.
I arrive at Miyajimaguchi, the last stop. The ferry terminal is on the left after you go through the ticket gate.
Heading for the Miyajima Matsudai Kisen ferry terminal. The number of visitors has grown as this is a major tourist spot in Japan.
The ferry ticket desk. For adults, the price is 180yen for a one-way trip and 360yen for a return. But don’t forget, if you have the “1 Day Streetcar and Ferry Pass” there’s no need for a ticket. Make sure you don’t buy one by mistake!
Right next to the ferry terminal is this foot spa inside the Miyajimaguchi Momiji Honjin souvenir shop. It’s said that by just putting your feet in the warm water your blood circulation improves and you can completely refresh yourself.
Also, if you visit this shop after using the one-day pass to ride the Miyajima Ropeway, you can get a discount voucher and three Momiji manjus (steamed buns filled with a sweet bean paste) from the information desk on the first floor.
This discount is also not available with the green “1 day streetcar pass”.
The shop is only open between 8:40 and 17:30 however, so be aware if you take a late ropeway ride, as you might not be able to take advantage of this offer.
2. All aboard the ferry to Miyajima!
Show your pass to the guard and head to the ferry-boarding platform. Miyajima is the island you can see on the other side of the water.
From here the ferry ride takes about 10 minutes, and ferries run every 10-15 minutes so there’s you won’t have to wait for long.
A video introducing Miyajima plays on board the ferry.
A shot of Miyajima from the ferry deck. The sea breeze is really strong up here. While I made sure not to drop my phone, or have my hat blown away. Miyajima crept closer before my eyes.
We land at Miyajima at last!
I arrive at Miyajima pier, the gateway to Miyajima.
3. From Miyajima pier to the Miyajima Ropeway.
From the pier I headed left, aiming for the Miyajima Ropeway. This will take me up the so-called “power spot” of Mt. Misen. Straight away, a deer walked up to welcome me. Unfortunately feeding these animals is not allowed.
After two to three minutes’ walk, I came to a lively shopping street busy with sightseers. Stores are lined up serving the Miyajima specialties of oyster, grilled saltwater eel on rice, and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes). I decided to leave my souvenir hunting for later, and headed for the ropeway station.
These are the renowned Miyajima oysters. Although I’d eaten raw oysters at an oyster bar before, the style in Miyajima is to bake them whole in their shells.
Miyajima oysters are large and strongly flavored. Cooking them is said to bring out the sweetness and rich taste.
I was lucky to catch this shot of a deer in front of the Itsukushima Shrine’s great “torii” gate. At the time it was low tide, so many people were able to walk up close to the torii. These gates traditionally mark the entrance to a sacred place.
This is the entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
At high tide, the shrine building seems to be floating on the sea, a rare sight in the world. The entrance fee is 300yen for an adult.
It seemed like it would be a while before high tide, so I decided drop by again after going up Mt. Misen.
As I go past the Itsukishima Shrine entrance, a sign for the Miyajima Ropeway appeared.
After one or two minutes, I reached the stop for the free shuttle bus to the Miyajima Ropeway’s Momiji-dani Station. A line of people was already forming. Even when walking slowly it only takes about eight minutes to the station, so I decided to set off on foot.
There were many other people walking to the station. Although I visited in winter, there should be a lot of fresh greenery to enjoy on this walk when the spring comes.
I arrive at the Miyajima Ropeway’s Momiji-dani Station. Finally I can begin my ascent of the mystical Mt. Misen.
I bought a round trip ticket at the ticket office.
Don’t forget to show your “1 Day Streetcar and Ferry Pass” at the ticket office! A round trip ticket, usually costing 1,800yen, can be bought for 1,350yen, a discount of 450yen.
Please note, you can’t get this discount with the green “1 day streetcar pass”.
After my ride on the ropeway, wonderful scenery welcomed me at the summit of Mt. Misen. My trip to Miyajima in Hiroshima prefecture had become one I will never forget. This is one spot I’d definitely recommend to anyone visiting Japan.
[Name] Miyajima Ropeway
[HP] http://miyajima-ropeway.info/index.html (English and French pages available).
[Cost] Adult one way 1,000yen, round trip 1,800yen. Child (elementary school age) one way 500yen, round trip 900yen (no credit cards).
[Running times] December-February 9:00-16.30, March-October 9:00-17:00, November 8:00-17:00.
* Please note business hours vary according to the month.
* Also please note, every February the ropeway equipment undergoes routine inspection and maintenance and will not run during this time.