Miyajima in Hiroshima is a tourist spot where more than four million people visit every year. Miyajima is famous for the Itsukushima Shrine designated as a World Heritage Site, but in this article, I would like to introduce another attraction “Mt. Misen” based on my experience.
“Mt. Misen” (the peak is 535m above sea level) is regarded as a sacred mountain, and famous for the stunning views from the summit where more than two hundred thousand tourists visit every year. It is the second most popular mountain for foreign tourists after Mt. Fuji. You can climb the mountain right after visiting the Itsukushima Shrine.
Start with visiting the Itsukushima Shrine when you come to Miyajima!
A deer welcomed me after getting off from the ferry at Miyajima landing. They are regarded as God’s messengers in Miyajima.
Though they are wild deer, they are quite used to people and did not try to run away from me. In fact, if they spot food they will try to snatch it from you, so be careful!
With a little effort, you can take pictures of deers with the gigantic vermilion torii gate of the Itsukushima Shrine in the background.
The route I planned for this trip:
1. Take the path that follows the sea to visit Itsukushima Shrine
2. Hike Mt. Misen and enjoy the nature and scenery
3. Eat the local specialty on the Omotesando shopping street
I headed for the Itsukushima Shrine first!
I saw some armored warriors as I walk along the beach. You can put suits of armor and take pictures for a fee.
As I walked ahead, I saw a gigantic torii gate in the ocean. I recommend taking pictures from the spot in front of the torii gate going down south of the landing.
The tide was out, so I could walk right up to the torii. But during high tide, the torii looks as though it is floating in the water, which means you can enjoy the view in two different ways.
Tide timings can be checked on the official website of the Miyajima Tourist Association (http://www.en.itsukushimajinja.jp/index.html).
The Itsukushima Shrine was built over water and appears to float in the sea, and registered as a World Heritage Site in 1996. It has more than 1400 years of history, and three goddesses of Japanese mythology are enshrined in here.
Climb to Mt. Misen with Ropeway!
After visiting the Itsukushima Shrine, I recommend you to climb up “Mt. Misen.”
There are three routes to the top of the mountain, it will take more than 2 hours on foot. It is recommended to use the Miyajima ropeway up halfway.
It takes 10 minutes to the Momiji-dani ropeway station on foot. You can also take a shuttle bus up to the station.
I walked up to the ropeway station. You don’t need to worry about getting lost since there are several guideboards on the way. On the way I felt like I was walking in the traditional Japanese garden, as there were rivers and a small waterfall.
Convenient Miyajima Ropeway
As the information board showed, it took exactly 10 minutes to the ropeway station on foot.
If you have a “1 Day Streetcar and Ferry Pass” (840 yen), you can purchase a round-trip ticket with a 450-yen discount, so the fare will reduce from 1,800 yen to 1,350 yen.
Please note, you can’t use the green “1 day streetcar pass” to get this discount.
The “1 Day Streetcar and Ferry Pass” enables you to use any Hiroshima Electric Railway to travel inside the city of Hiroshima and up to the closest station to Miyajima. It is very convenient and reasonable.
Also, after using the pass to get on the Miyajima ropeway, you can get Momiji manju (3 pieces) and a discount ticket at Miyajima-guchi Momiji Honjin for free at the information center on the first floor if you show them the pass.
This discount is also not available with the green “1 day streetcar pass”.
You can also try a footbath in “Miyajima-guchi Momiji Honjin,” which will relax your body after mountain climbing. This is a place that you must visit on the way back.
However, be careful not to come back with the ropeway at late hours if you wish to get these bonuses, as the opening hours of Miyajima-guchi Momiji Honjin is 8:40 am to 5:30 pm.
Webpage: http://miyajima-ropeway.info/index.html（in English and French）
Fare: 1,000 yen (one way) and 1,800 yen (round-trip) for adults, 500 yen (one way) and 900 yen (round-trip) for children (elementary school students)
* Credit cards are not accepted.
Hours: December to February 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, March to October 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, November 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
* Take note that opening hours are varied per month.
* Also please note, every February the ropeway equipment undergoes routine inspection and maintenance and will not run during this time.
To Shishiiwa Station by Ropeway
Take two kinds of cable cars (small and big) up to the Shishiiwa Station.
You can see the beautiful views of the Seto Inland Sea from the ropeway. If you want to take pictures, make sure you ride on the side near the sea on the big ropeway.
It takes about 45 minutes from the ropeway station to the summit of Mt. Misen on foot. There are a lot of fascinating spots on the way up, such as the natural monument of the primeval forest of Mt. Misen which is registered as World Heritage Sites, and former training temple which was used by the great monk, Kukai.
Make sure you take something to drink when climbing Mt. Misen since there are no vending machines around the mountaintop. You also can get some rest at the café (on the second floor) in Shishiiwa station before climbing up.
You need to check out the view from Shishiiwa. After getting off from the ropeway and climbing up the stairs on the left side of the station, you will see this stunning view of the Seto Inland Sea.
The Shishiiwa observation deck is a staging post on the way to the top of Mt. Misen and offers a great view of Seto Inland Sea and its islands. Since the weather was fine, I could see the mountain ranges of Shikoku though it was a bit shrouded in mist.
Heading for the top of Mt. Misen!
You need to be careful not to miss the last ropeway when you climb to the top of Mt. Misen. If you miss the last ropeway, you need to descend the mountain on foot. Let’s say it takes 2 hours for a round trip.
The Virgin Forest
I climbed to the top of the mountain going through the primeval forest.
The virgin forest of Mt. Misen, regarded as a forest where the Gods live, is registered as a World Heritage Site along with the Itsukushima Shrine, and has remained as it has been for more than ten thousand years. It was very refreshing to walk the path surrounded by the primeval forest –a place to get away from everyday life.
The path to the top may be fraught with difficulties –poor footing, slippery rocks or broken trails. Wearing flat shoes is recommended.
After 25 minutes of walking, you will reach the temple, Reikado Hall (Hall of the Spiritual Flame).
Inside is the fire that the great monk “Kukai” lit when he was undergoing ascetic practice in Miyajima, it has been burning for an unbelievable 1200 years . It is also called the “Eternal Flame,” and is used to light the Flame of Peace in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park.
You can purchase a candle (200 yen) for yourself to make your wish come true. Since I came all the way here, I got one for myself! You can choose from these 7 wishing candles: wish for the safety of your family (家内安全), attainment of your cherished desires (心願成就), good health (無病息災), commemoration of your ancestors (先祖供養), prosperous business (商売繁盛), success in exams (合格祈願), and safe driving (交通安全).
Be careful, the smell of incense will linger on your clothes if you stay around here too long. I got to know later that you can drink water boiled in this pot, and this will give you long life.
There are Jizo (stone statues) dressed up nicely in Reikado.
After the Reikado, I climbed up the stairs on the right side and headed for the summit of Mt. Misen. From here, you will see many strange gigantic rocks, which makes Mt. Misen unique.
Strangely shaped rocks in Mt. Misen
The gigantic rocks were believed to be formed by the Gods since they were too big for people to carry, so they had been the objects of mountain worship for a long time.
In fact, these unique rocks were shaped by nature. Mt. Misen is formed from granite, and strangely shaped rocks are created through the weathering of the mountain surface .
Arriving at the top of Mt. Misen!
After passing the Kuguri-iwa, I finally reached the summit of Mt. Misen.
You can lie down and relax on large deck located on the second floor of the observatory.
The best part of climbing Mt. Misen is that you can enjoy incredible views from the observatory after the long walk.
You will love the stunning view awarded 3 stars in the “Michelin Green Guide Japan”.
The gigantic rocks, which are like historical sites, and the views of Seto Inland Sea, are truly magnificent. I strongly recommend climbing to the summit of Mt. Misen when you visit Miyajima. You will enjoy the best of Miyajima!