Little Places – Miyajima (Japan)
Of all the incredible cities in Japan, Hiroshima ranks up there simply because of the fact that the whole thing was rebuilt after the Second World War, and that it stands as a huge monument for anyone who is anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons. It’s a friendly, fun city, perhaps not what all visitors expect, but today’s post is about a little island not so far from it, Miyajima. Translated this means “Island of the Shrine”.
Getting there is relatively easy – but this is Japan and transport in Japan is seriously second to none in the world. It’s a matter of a short train ride and then a ferry (which is also included on the Japan Rail Pass if you have one) across the ocean to Miyajima Island, a trip of less than an hour in total from Hiroshima.
Japan is very pro-tourism, and so you’ll find a little sort of ‘tourist village of shops’ which is quite common in these sort of places across Japan. You’ll be greeted as you exit your ferry by a bunch of deer. Deer and tourism in Japan seemed to go hand in hand, in Nara the tourist sites have more deer than you can poke a stick at (not recommended) and as the passenger disembark the ferry from the mainland here at Miyajima, the deer have a good idea that perhaps a few snacks may be in order!
The island has places to eat and plenty to see and do. There are walking trails around the island, and you can walk one of the steep trails up the 500 metre Mt Misen for views across the island and ocean. Or, take a gondola ride if it seems a bit daunting.
There are ryokans on the island if you want to stay the night – a traditional Japanese accommodation options something akin to a bed and breakfast but very definitely Japanese – sleeping on mats and the challenging options that a Japanese breakfast will throw your way. There is a small museum and a number of temples, but there’s one most have come to see – the Itsukushima Shrine.
This rather beautiful, if simple shrine sits on the water’s edge. This means that at times the tide is out, and there is a fair bit of sand, and when the tide is in the water laps around the shrine built on stilts. The sight of a tori (gate) further out is one of the more iconic pics you can take that says ‘Japan’.
The shrine sees a lot of visitors, so be prepared and be patient. The site appears to date back to the 6th century AD, and if you’d like to learn a bit of the history, click HERE for a link to the official site of the shrine. Not far from the shrine is a rather impressive 5-story pagoda worth a look too.
The whole island is considered somewhat holy in the Shinto religion, so please bear this in mind. Japanese tourist sites are strange in some ways, one thing for sure is that the Japanese people love to be a tourist in their own country. As special as Miyajima is, you will still see people taking selfies and vending machines aplenty for refreshments or snacks.
I recommended giving yourself at least half a day on the island if you like to walk. You will be able to find a little spot to relax and reflect. And then catch the ferry back to Hiroshima and enjoy a night out at one of the many very friendly night venues.
Thanks for reading – May the Journey Never End!