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Two-Day Hiroshima and Miyajima trip from Tokyo – Part II

In the previous part I covered the first day of a 2-day tour of Hiroshima and Miyajima from Tokyo. The first day consisted of arriving at Hiroshima from Tokyo and touring the Peace Memorial Park. In this part I will cover the island of Miyajima and the beautiful Itsukushima shrine.

Miyajima is often described as one of the most beautiful places in Japan. Thanks to the efforts of the administration and the people of the island, it still retains a traditional Japanese Edo-era look. It’s one of those places that let you experience the old charm of Japan before all the modernization happened. It’s also a nature lover’s paradise and provides good opportunities for hiking and camping, though we will leave those out of our itinerary for our one day tour. Okay, if you’re a really good hiker, you can still make it up and down the mountain by afternoon, in time for a train back to Tokyo.

As I had elected to spend the night at Miyajimaguchi after my tour of Hiroshima the previous day, it was quite easy for me to get to the island. Miyajimaguchi is where you have the ferry docks for the short ride to Miyajima island. If you stayed at Hiroshima instead, see the first part of this series on
how to get to Miyajimaguchi.

As far as I could see, there are 2 ferry operators for the Miyajimaguchi to Miyajima ride and back. One of them is JR (Japan Rail), so if you have a JR Pass it’s a free ride for you!

JR ferry to Miyajima
JR ferry to Miyajima
A view of Miyajima island and the five-story pagoda from the ferry
A view of Miyajima island and the five-story pagoda from the ferry

The primary attraction of Miyajima is the Itsukushima shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sprawled across a shallow bay, this mid-16th century Shinto shrine is a sight to behold. But don’t head in there as soon as you land on the island! The shrine looks its best at high tide. The shrine is built on stilts on the shallow bay and as sea water floods the bay at high tide, the shrine appears to float on the water. It’s a majestic sight!

If the tide is low, it’s better to wait till it rises. But of course, if you missed high tide earlier in the morning, you can’t wait for the next one. If you got there early enough, the tide may still be high enough. Use your best judgement here. I didn’t think about the tide being a major factor at first and went in anyway, only to go in again later by spending twice the amount of money on entrance fees. At ¥300 per entry, it’s not that much though.

To reach the shrine, just turn right from the ferry dock and walk along the shore. Even as you are sailing towards the island you should be able to catch a glimpse of the shrine and the O-Torii. The O-Torii is the sea-facing gateway to the shrine and built in typical Japanese style. Like the rest of the shrine, the O-Torii also appears to be a floating structure when the tide is high.

Continue reading Two-Day Hiroshima and Miyajima trip from Tokyo – Part II