The Miyajima Island is a popular tourist destination, which is home to the renowned world site heritage Itsukushima Shrine, and Mt. Misen which offers a spiritual atmosphere and breathtaking views.
Here are some must-see spots when on Miyajima Island.
1. Around the Itsukushima Shrine Area
The Great Torii
After you get off the ferry running between Hiroshima and Miyajima Island, and pass through Omotesando shopping street, the first attraction that will catch your eye is the Great Torii.
It looks small while on the ferry, but as you go closer to the Great Torii, which boasts a height of roughly 16m, you can appreciate its impressive scale.
The gigantic Great Torii floating on the sea is a symbol of Itsukushima Shrine. Since people believed that the island itself contained the spirit of a deity, building on the land was considered as sacrilege, so the Great Torii was built on the sea.
It is possible to get closer to the Great Torii when the tide is low, but I arrived there a bit too early, so unfortunately I couldn’t see it from up close.
During high tide, it’s possible to catch the extraordinary sight of the Great Torii and the shrine appearing to float on the sea, so don’t forget to check out when there’s high and low tide during your visit!
Senjokaku (Toyokuni Shrine) / Five-Storied Pagoda
After feasting your eyes on the Great Torii, you might want to head straight to Itsukushima Shrine which should be right in front of you, but if you can curb your enthusiasm for a while, it’s well worth stopping by Senjokaku (Toyokuni Shrine).
Here is a map of the Senjokaku (Toyokuni Shrine) and Five-Storied Pagoda
Once you pay $1.00 for the admission fee, step inside the mystical world.
There is a huge variety of artwork on the ceiling! Also, you can check out the large wooden picture plaques which were offered to the Itsukushima Shrine.
It was the beginning of summer when I went, so it was a bit hot outside, but once you step inside, there is a cool breeze that flows through the building.
This is also a great spot to take a break if you’re tired.
In 1587, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who governed Japan at the time, ordered the construction of the building, it is 857 tatami mats big, so it is called Senjokaku (1000 mat shrine). Due to Hideyoshi’s death, the building remains incomplete to this day.
You should also check out the five-storied pagoda which was built in 1407 right next to the Senjokaku!
Unfortunately, the inside is off limits, but it’s worth appreciating its beauty from outside. The fusion of Japanese and Chinese architecture and the cypress bark roofing are the focal points to observe.
As it is a tall building, the combination of the blue sky and the vermilion colored architecture creates a stunning view on a beautiful sunny day.
(Senjokaku Admission fees) Adults 100 yen / High School 100 yen / Under Junior High 50 yen
(Opening hours) 08:30 – 16:00, 365 days a year
It’s no doubt that almost all people who come to Miyajima Island visit this Shrine.
Itsukushima Shrine was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996 and has 1400 years of history, and since a long time ago it has been at the center of worship by local people.
The 108 vermilion colored pillars support the twenty stages of “Noh”, a type of classical Japanese theatre. The main three buildings and other seventeen buildings which forms the Itsukushima Shrine are all designated as National Treasure and important cultural property.
The main reason that I came to Miyajima Island was to visit Itsukushima Shrine. After you pay the admission fee at the entrance, you can go through the corridor to the main hall.
Also, the beautiful architecture of this designated world heritage site, such as the noh stages and ceremonial stages which still holds noh performances and ceremonies, is absolutely worth seeing.
If you are lucky enough you might be able to see a traditional Japanese performance which are held once a month.
I had another reason to visit here rather than just seeing beautiful Japanese architecture.
It was to collect a temple stamp called “Goshuin” which you can obtain at the shrine.
There is a reception desk for Goshuin near the main hall. After waiting in line for 10 minutes, I paid 300 yen and got one.
I bought this stamp notebook called “Goshuin-cho” (1000 yen) at the Itsukushima Shrine.
The rules that you might want to follow when collecting Goshuin.
• Pray at each temple
• A Goshuin-cho is best for Goshuin *it is also available in Itsukushima Shrine.*Avoid using notebooks and autograph books
• Be sure to line up if there is a line
(Location) The Itsukushima Shrine
(Address 1-1 Miyajima-town, Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima-Prefecture 〒 739-0588
(Opening Hours) Jan 1: 0:00-18:30, Jan-Feb: 06:30-17:30, Mar-Oct 14: 06:30-18:00, Oct 15-Nov 30: 06:00-17:30, Dec 1-30: 06:30-17:00
(Admission Fee) Adults 300 yen / High School 200 yen / Under Junior High 100 yen
Daisho-In is an old temple with 1200 years history behind it and is the main temple in Itsukushima Shrine for chief priests to visit for religious services.
I followed the directions from Itsukushima Shrine and walked for three minutes, you will see the stairs to the precinct of the Daisho-In. You will arrive Daisho-in three minutes after climbing the stairs.
Since I heard that Goshuin is available here as well, I went straight away to get one.
Left: the Goshuin at Daisho-In
Right: the Goshuin at Daiganji which I dropped by on my way to Daisho-In
After Daisho-In, I noticed something as followed the directions and walked around the precinct! For some reason there were charming Jizo statues all over the precinct.
I spotted about one hundred Jizo statues. I wonder how many of them they are in total…
In the precinct, not only is there a variety of buildings and statues, but also a Japanese garden built about 400 years ago (in the Momoyama Era) in one corner. There were so many attractions that I didn’t know where to begin.
As I just stopped by here to collect Goshuin and didn’t research well, I tearfully decided to leave them for a later day due to my itinerary…
I strongly recommend you to come with a somewhat flexible itinerary unlike me. I couldn’t try some activities such as tasting “Shojin Ryori,” which is Japanese vegetarian cuisine for Buddhist monks, nor could I experience zen meditation!
Date: All year round (It may become unavailable due to Buddhist services or other events)
Capacity: 5-50 people
Fee: 500 yen per person
Duration: 30 minutes
Reservation: Mandatory Tel: 0829-44-0111 (Daisho-In/ Japanese only)
Time: 11:00-14:00 all year round (Closed: Dec 31, Jan 1 – 3, Feb 3, Mar 8, Apr 15, Aug 10, Nov 15 and is subjected to an irregular event)
Fee: 3000 yen
Minimum Capacity: 4 people
Reservation: 3 days in advance
(HP) http://www.galilei.ne.jp/daisyoin/ （Japanese only）
(Address) 210 Miyajima-Town, Hatsukaichi-City, Hiroshima-Prefecture 〒739-0592
(Admission Fee) Free
3. Miyajima Ropeway
You can reach the top of Mt. Misen by hiking or taking two types of ropeways (Circulating and Funicular).
A gasp of surprise may unwittingly escape your lips when viewing the spectacular scenery of the Seto Inland Sea and nature.
Miyajima Ropeway: around the Momiji-dani station
You will reach the entrance of the Momiji-dani station after a three-minute walk from Itsukushima Shrine. Complimentary shuttle bus services are available from the shrine to the entrance of the ropeway.
Momiji-dani park is a popular spot where you can enjoy the fall foliage of seven hundreds trees. In fall you can look down at the beautiful crimson virgin forest from the summit. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see it this time round since I went at the beginning of summer.
Even so, I quite enjoyed the summer greenery.
This is what the shuttle bus stop looks like.
I wanted to take a shuttle bus, but I had just missed it.
However, I found a guide board that explained that it’s just a 10 minute walk from the bus stop to Miyajima ropeway station (Momiji-dani station) via Momiji-dani park, so I walked to the ropeway under the beautiful sun.
On the way to the ropeway, there was a waterfall, a resting area and a trail along the river.
You can find hidden gems when walking which you’ll otherwise miss out on if you ride on the bus, so I recommend that you walk to the ropeway if the weather is nice.
There is a welcome board after following the trail and climbing the final stairs to the ropeway! It only took me about ten minutes from the bus stop to the ropeway like it said on the shuttle bus stop’s guide board.
Before you purchase a ropeway ticket don’t forget to check the guide board below!
Once you’ve purchased a ticket, it is time to get on the ropeway.
Adults 1000 yen / Children 500 yen (One Way), Adults 1800 yen / Children 900 yen (Round Trip)
Take advantage of the round trip discount.
Benefits of the ‘1day Streetcar & Ferry Pass.’
If you have a Hiroshima-Dentesu ‘1 day Streetcar & Ferry pass’ (Adults 840yen/Children 420yen) that you can use all day long on the Miyajima ferry and streetcar services in Hiroshima city (including the closest station to Miyajima), you can get further discounts on the ropeway round trip tickets. Adults 1350 yen / Children 700 yen.
Please note, you can’t use the green “1 day streetcar pass” to get this discount.
What’s more, you can get three complimentary Momiji-Manju and a coupon that you can use at the ‘Miyajimaguchi Momiji-Honjin’ store. To take advantage of these, you need to show the ‘1day Streetcar & Ferry Pass’ that you used for the Miyajima Ropeway. Show the pass at the first floor information counter in the store which is located right next to the ferry pier (on the Hiroshima side).
This discount is also not available with the green “1 day streetcar pass”.
There’s also a footbath at ‘Miyajimaguchi-Momiji-Honjin’ so be sure to stop by and refresh yourself.
The opening hours of Miyjimaguchi-Momiji-Honjin are from 08:40 to 17:30. Please be aware that if you get there after the closing time, you are going to miss out on the goodies above.
Momiji-dani Station – Kayatani Station – Shishiiwa Station
If you get on an eight man ropeway, it takes only about ten minutes to get to the Kayatani Station located between Momiji-dani Station and Shishiiwa Station,
Even though it is for eight people, you might feel a bit uncomfortable since it isn’t that spacious. It might originally be designed for six people because when I got on it was quite packed with only six people.
While you are rising in the air above sheer rocks and green mountains on the ropeway, you can look down to view the treasured virgin forest, a natural heritage which is listed a UNESCO world heritage site along with Itsukushima Shrine.
The ropeway goes pretty high into the sky meaning you have the best photo spot. Don’t miss this opportunity!
To get to Shishiiwa Station, transfer to the ropeway that carries thirty people at Kayatani Station and you’ll arrive there in four minutes. The view of the Seto Inland Sea and small islands from the ropeway is picturesque and provides a great snap shot opportunity, but you need to get a seat by the window. This might be difficult if there are many passengers, but for those who want great photos, try to grab a spot beside the window!
(Location) Miyajima Ropeway
(Ticket Fee) Adults 1000 yen / Children 500yen (One Way), Adults 1800 yen / Children 900 yen (Round Trip) *Credit cards not acceptable.
(Opening Hours) Dec – Feb: 09:00 – 16:30, Mar-Oct: 09:00-17:00. Nov 08:00-17:00
* Opening hours depend on the season, so please check the schedule carefully.
* Also please note, every February the ropeway equipment undergoes routine inspection and maintenance and will not run during this time.
4. Shishiiwa Station – The top of the Mt. Misen
There is a thirty-minute hiking course from the Miyajima ropeway terminal, Shishiiwa Station, to the top of the Mt. Misen, and you can walk through the virgin forest which remains unchanged for 10,000 years.
As the stairs and slopes on the way to the summit are steep, be sure to wear something comfortable!
The Reikado Hall will quickly appear in front of you after 20 minutes of hiking trail from Shishiiwa Station.
Mt. Misen is known as a holy mountain due to many folklore, and the place you can actually witness one of them is right here at Reikado Hall.
In the hall, a sacred fire which Kukai, a famous Japanese priest, used as part of his ascetic training in Miyajima has been burning for 1200 years.
This fire is called ‘Kiezu-no reika’ (The eternal flame) and it was also used to light the “Flame of Peace” at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Although I acquired this information after my visit, apparently they make tea with holy water which is boiled in the pot on the fire, and you can try some when you visit!
I definitely would have tried it if I knew…
It is said that the holy water boiled by this fire works wonders for all kinds of diseases and promises happiness, so please try it once you are here!
Mt. Misen Observatory
A further 10 minute hike from the Reikado Hall.
After getting through the massive rocks that are placed nearby the summit…
…I finally reached the Mt. Misen Observatory!
The first Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi, “the true value of one of Japan’s three most beautiful places is the view from the top,” so it is well worth seeing the superb view.
At the summit there is the Mt. Misen Observatory where you can see the Seto Inland Sea. You will probably lose track of time gazing at ships moving back and forth. If you are lucky enough, you might be able to witness a submarine navigating the Seto Inland Sea.
Even though you need to do a one hour hike through a steep mountain trail for a round trip, your efforts will be rewarded!