Magical Miyajima: A Quiet Respite in Hiroshima Bay

All great trips should have some downtime built in! On my 2-Week Japan Itinerary for First Timers, that downtime comes in Miyajima. On your way to this idyllic island refuge, you can make a stop in Hiroshima with enough time to tour the important sights of this humbling city.

Miyajima

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Getting to Miyajima

If you are following my 2-week itinerary, leave early from Kyoto on a direct train to Hiroshima. The journey takes about an hour and 45 minutes although taking the Nozomi bullet train will save you an extra half hour. Once you arrive at Hiroshima station, you can take the Route 1 streetcar to stop M1 (Kamiyacho-higashi) or the red tourist bus to the Atomic Bomb Dome.

Never have I felt so conspicuously American as I did when approaching the Atomic Bomb Dome. Take in this sobering sight then cross the bridge to Peace Memorial Park to visit the Cenotaph, Children’s Peace Monument, Peace Bells, and more.

The Peace Memorial Museum is at the far end of the park. A visit here may not be for everyone but, I believe, in these days of growing nationalism, that it is worth our time to stop and consider the atrocities that we have inflicted on the world as a counter-balance to that “me-first” philosophy.

Touring the main sights (Bomb Dome, Park, and Memorial Museum) will take about 3 hours at an average pace. When you are ready to continue, you can head on to Miyajima two ways:

  • By Train: Return to Hiroshima station. Take the local San-yo train 9 stops to Miyajimaguchi Station. Make the short walk to the ferry terminal (well-marked) and take a short, 10-minute ferry ride to the island.
  • By Ferry: The Aqua Net ferry line departs directly from Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park for a 45-minute ride to Miyajima Island. Lovely, if it’s a nice day and the ferry schedule aligns with yours.

The Sights of Magical Miyajima

While only 10 minutes from the mainland, this romantic little idyll feels worlds apart. As you depart the ferry and walk towards town, you’ll likely be greeted by some of the friendly deer that wander the island. Hold tight to your snacks!

By day, Miyajima can be quite busy with day-trippers but in the evening and early morning hours, you’ll have the island largely to yourself. If you are ready to relax, head to the seaside for engaging people-watching or stroll the main shopping street, Omotesando, sampling one of the island’s famous momiji manju along the way.

Making momiji manju, little maple-leaf-shaped cakes.

If, on the other hand, you just can’t quite slow down yet, there are several sights worth exploring. Mt. Misen can be accessed by cable car or hike and offers spectacular views of the Seto Inland Sea and greater Hiroshima mainland on a clear day.

Momijidani Koen Park is a peaceful refuge with a vivid and memorable maple leaf display in the autumn along with the Mt. Misen hiking trail and a healthy population of the local deer.

Daisho-in Temple is set on picturesque grounds. Along one walkway, you’ll encounter 500 Buddha statues wearing little red hats. At certain times during the day, a mist machine activates making for incredible, mystical photos of this sight.

Miyajima

Lastly, be sure to visit the iconic symbol of Miyajima, the Itsukushima-jinja Shrine, and its floating torii. I recommend visiting this UNESCO World Heritage sight a couple of times during your stay on the island to experience the famous torii at both low and high tides.

Miyajima Torii

Stay at a Ryokan with an Onsen for the Ultimate Miyajima Retreat!

To amplify the luxurious, restorative vibe of your time on the island, consider staying at Miyajima Kinsuikan. This lovely ryokan sits on the bayfront with stunning views of the torii from its rooftop terrace and several guest rooms. You can opt for a traditional tatami mat room or one with Western beds.

While a bit of a splurge, your stay here includes an unforgettable, seasonally-harvested kaiseki-style meal served in your room as well as a full, traditional Japanese breakfast served in the dining hall. The hotel even provides guests with traditional Japanese yukatas to enjoy during their stay. I loved mine so much that we ended up purchasing it!

Traditional Japanese breakfast

Kinsuikan has a natural, hot-spring onsen on-site that is available to all its guests. This offers you the chance to experience the beloved Japanese tradition of nude, communal, same-sex bathing. If your shyness gets the better of you (and I certainly hope it doesn’t), some rooms also come with private onsen-style baths although the water is piped and not from a natural hot spring.

Miyajima view from Kinsuikan rooftop
View from Kinsuikan rooftop

I hope you enjoy your time in Miyajima as much as we did! Next, venture towards a fun stay in Osaka via Himeji Castle as described in this post. Stay tuned for posts on Kyoto and Tokyo coming soon.


Thanks so much for your likes, shares, and follows! Until next time,

Magical Miyajima is the perfect place to experience a little downtime amidst a busy 2-week "Best of Japan" itinerary! #miyajima #japantravel
Magical Miyajima is the perfect place to experience a little downtime amidst a busy 2-week "Best of Japan" itinerary! #miyajima #kinsuikan

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