Friday, 15 June 2012


The scenic island of Miyajima, considered on of the top 3 sights in Japan, is a short train and ferry ride away from Hiroshima.

Tram line #2 goes all the way from the JR station to the ferry station (and also stops in front of the Peace Park), but it takes over an hour; the other option is to take a train from the JR station and save yourself 40 minutes at the expense of an extra ¥150. There are two ferry options at Miyajima. One of them is run by JR, and accepts JR train passes. Both of them run every 15 minutes and charge ¥180. There are also ferries that run directly from the Peace Park to Miyajima, some take 50 minutes for about ¥1,500, while there may also be a fast ferry that takes 25 minutes and costs ¥2,400.

If you only have a day in Hiroshima, it's possible to see the sights around the Peace Memorial in the morning in Hiroshima before heading out to Miyajima for the afternoon. The ferries continue to run back to the mainland until quite late, so you could do both in a day. If you are going from the Peace Memorial to Miyajima, then it's actually faster to take tram #2 from the park to the ferry, rather than backtrack to the JR station and wait for the train. Catching the fast ferry from the Memorial is an even faster option if you don't mind spending the money.

Miyajima at low tide

JR ferry to Miyajima
Passing the JR ferry on the way to Miyajima.

The Great Tori (O-tori) from the ferry on a rainy day.

Miyajima deer
Young deer watching the world go by. Even the mature deer have spots.

The deer on Miyajima are tame, and will approach you if you're carrying food. Japanese treat them more like pets and less like wildlife. From a Canadian perspective it's disrespectful and sad. When I was her in 1993 I saw deer being shoved by tourists who were no longer interested in them, as well as deer eating plastic. Things seem better now, with fewer deer.

The pilgrimage to O-tori
At low tide you can walk out to the O-tori.

Coins are stuck on the O-tori for luck
People stick coins onto the O-tori for luck.

O-tori at low tide
Itsukushima shrine is directly behind the O-tori.

Wedding party
A Japanese-style Shinto wedding party at Itsukushima.

Japanese are syncretic, incorporating both Shinto and Buddhist religious practices into life. Celebrations of life (weddings, coming of age, etc.) are Shinto, while death rites are Buddhist.

Bride and groom
Looking towards Mount Misen.

Itsukushima wedding and pagoda
The bride and groom with the five-story pagoda (gojunoto) in the background.

Itsukushima shrine floats on the water at high tide, but sits on the beach at low tide.

O-tori at low tide
O-tori from Itsukushima.

Mount Misen

Map of routes to top of Mount Misen
The climbing paths to Mount Misen. It's always a good idea to take pictures of maps, especially when they show things mapping apps don't.

Daishoin temple from the rocky riverbed
Daishoin temple and the rocky riverbed next to it.

Daishoin temple
Daishoin temple.

O-tori from Mount Misen
The O-tori and channel from the path to Mount Misen.

Buddha statue on Mount Misen
A little Buddha statue by the path.

Shrine shelter on Mount Misen
A shelter over a small altar on the path.

Stairway on Mount Misen
This feels surprisingly exotic for Japan.

Tree branch over Mount Misen
Looking out from Mount Misen.

You can take a cable car to the top if you want. There's a small building at the summit that has cold drinks and food. I walked up the middle trail and then walked down the other trail. It took me 2:45 to do the round trip, with a fair bit of time spent reading in a temple near the summit.

Miyajima at higher tide

By the time I was back down from Mount Misen, the tide had risen somewhat.

Miyajima street and Gojunoto five-story pagoda
Souvenir shops line the streets.

Tori and lanterns
The great tori is now submerged.

Miyajima shrine as tide rolls in

Miyajima shrine and lantern
The sea is beginning to lap at Itsukushima's foundations.
Ferry from Miyajima
The non-JR ferry passes us as it heads to Miyajima.

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