Hiroshima and Miyajima both made a big impression on me, for completely different reasons. Actually I think their contrasts make a great combo. And located so close to each other! If you get the chance, I would definitely recommend to visit both. Hiroshima with its history, Miyajima Island with its deer, famous floating Torii and nature.
Miyajima is Japanese for “Shrine Island”. It is the popular name for an island that is officially called Itsukushima. The great Torii attracts tourists on a daily basis. With its location approximately 200 meters from the shore, depending on the tide, the torii looks either to be floating on the sea (high tide) or on the beach (low tide).
A great time to take photos of the great Torri is at sunset, with the great the golden sky on the background.
The great Torii was constructed in 1168, made out of different types of wood. It is approximately 16.6 meters high. The vermilion color of the shrine keeps evil spirits away, according to Shinto belief. If the tide is low, you can walk up to it and touch it.
The great Torii is part of a shrine complex called Itsukushima Shrine. It is listed as National Treasure and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex has a high stage, open stage, purification hall and is surrounded by three round ponds. On good days traditional dances are performed at the stages.
To visit the Itsukushima Shrine complex, walk 5-10 min further along the shore from the point where most people take photos of the great Torii in the water (coming from the ferry).
Miyajima ferry terminal is a pretty nice area to walk around. The gravel path along the water easily leads to the great Torii (app. 10 min walk from the ferry). The main surrounding streets like Omotesando are a bit touristy. You can buy snacks, drinks, lunch, ice cream, souvenirs, etc.
There are several walking trails on Miyajima Island that are worth exploring, should you have the time. Be prepared for a tough climb if you wish to reach the top of Mount Misen (535m), make use of the Miyajima Ropeway. At the end of the day, enjoy a warm onsen bath.
The deer on Miyajima are wild. Please do not throw trash on the ground and do not feed the deer.
More to see
If you have more than just one (half) day on Miyajima (you can easily spend a week here), consider visiting the following places on the island too:
- Mount Misen
- Toyokuni Shrine & Goju-No-To (five-storied pagoda)
- Shishiiwa Tenbodai (view)
- Momijidani Park (especially in autumn)
- Daishoin Temple
- Omoto Park
- Asebi Walking Path
- Komaga Forest
- Treasure Hall
- Miyajima Traditional Crafts Center
- Miyajima Aquarium
How to get to Miyajima
Miyajima can easily be reached by public transport from Hiroshima.
- From Hiroshima (1h): from Hiroshima Station take the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station (28 min) and then the ferry. Or take the tram via Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
- From Miyajimaguchi Station: follow the signs to the ferry terminal (5-10 min walk). The ferry is run by JR West and covered under the JR Pass. Between 8-18h the ferry goes 4x a day and ride itself takes app. 10-15 min. See the ferry’s timetable here.
- From Kyoto (3h), Osaka (3h), Kobe (2.5h) and Fukuoka (2h) via Hiroshima, see below.
Where to stay at Miyajima
If you decide to stay longer than just a few hours or a day at Miyajima Island, try to get a room at a traditional Japanese Inn (ryokan). I am pretty sure you will really enjoy staying at one of these ryokans with onsen:
The A-Bomb Dome and Peace Park are a must visits for everyone traveling to Japan. The destruction such bomb can cause, I had a hard time to get my head around it. The impact this historic event must have had on the lives of the people of Hiroshima in WW2.
On August 6, 1945 the United States detonated a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, killing 90.000 to 146.000 people of the acute effects.
The park’s main facility is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which consists of two buildings (admission ¥200). Unfortunately I could not visit this World War 2 Museum as it was closed for renovation during my time of visit, but it should be open again by now.
The Museum shows many photos and objects showing the destruction. The A-Bomb Dome tells the sad story on its own.
Between the Museum and the A-Bomb Dome is the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims, an arched tomb to remember the bomb’s victims, and the Children’s Peace Monument. In addition, the Pond of Peace, Peace Flame, Monument of the Soldier and the Peace Boulevard (Heiwa Odori) are also nearby.
To visit the A-Bomb Dome, Peace Park, etc. take the Dentetsu tram line 2 or 6 tram line 2 or 6 outside Hiroshima Station, get off at Genbaku Dome-Mae (10 stops, 15 min, ¥180). Once you get off the tram, you will see the A-Bomb Dome immediately. Reality check!
Walk around and see for yourself. If you want, it is possibile to take a boat ride on the river. I was lucky to see also some pink blossom and purple wisteria at the other side of the river. A strange contrast with the concrete and steel of the A-Bomb Dome.
How to get to Hiroshima
Traveling by train through Japan and wondering how to get to Hiroshima?
- Kyoto (1h 45min): take the Tokaido-Sanyo shinkansen Hikari (direction Hakata, 6 stops).
- Osaka (1.5h): from Shin-Osaka Station, take the Tokaido-Sanyo shinkansen Hikari (direction Hakata, 5 stops).
- Kobe (75 min): from Shin-Kobe Station, take the Tokaido-Sanyo shinkansen Hikari (direction Hakata, 4 stops).
- Fukuoka (1h): from Hakata Station, take the Tokaido-Sanyo shinkansen Sakura (direction Shin-Osaka, 3 stops).
Hiroshima also has an airport (HIJ), the largest airport in the Chūgoku region. Other airports most people will use are: Fukuoka (FUK), Kobe (UKB) and Osaka (ITM). Tokyo airports are 4.5 (HND) to 5.5 (NRT) hours by train to Hiroshima Station or 1.5 hours flight time.
Where to stay at Hiroshima
Hiroshima seems to be mainly aimed at business travelers. I would recommend to stay at one of the following comfortable hotels:
Japanese hotels are very strict with regards to check-in times. As a consequence you should not expect to be able to check-in earlier.
Miyajima & Hiroshima as day trip or longer?
It is possible to combine Hiroshima and Miyajima Island in one day, although this will be rushed. For day tours see below. If possible within your schedule, I would suggest to spend the night in either one of them, preferably in Miyajima (if not fully booked), and spend at least one full day each.
Should all nice ryokans on Miyajima Island (mentioned above) be fully booked, staying at Hiroshima is fine too. Also if you have plans to travel further north or south early next morning. There are a number of centrally located classy hotels (see above).
In which order?
Sometimes I get the question what the best order is to visit Hiroshima and Miyajima? This tough to answer as it depends on several factors.
- Photography wise, it would be smart to visit A-Bomb Dome in Hiroshima in the afternoon, when the sun will be shining from behind your back when facing the A-Bomb Dome across the street. I visited in the morning; it was quite a challenge to make good photos as the sun was coming from a difficult angle. On the other hand, in the morning it was pretty quiet around the A-Bomb Dome and Peace Park, so in that perspective it was great. After visiting Hiroshima, it is also nice to go to Miyajima with it’s lighter atmosphere.
- For Miyajima, it depends for example on how you wish to see the great Torii and how long you are staying. I was there early afternoon, when the tide is high and the Torii seems to be floating. However, it is also beautiful to see the Torii around sunset. Ideally, you have multiple days on Miyajima and can experience the island’s magic during different times of the day.
Forgive me my bluntness, how harsh this may sound, the A-Bombs on Japan saved many lives too, including my grandmother’s, who were released from Japanese prison camp in Batavia, Dutch East Dutch Indies (nowadays Indonesia) soon after. Paradoxically, I would probably never have been born without these A-Bombs.
If you do not want the hassle of public transport and/or prefer to hear the stories of an expert guide, consider one of these group tours:
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Miyajima Island Tour from Hiroshima
- Miyajima and Hiroshima Day Tour from Osaka
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Miyajima Island Tour from Kyoto
Map Miyajima & Hiroshima
This map includes places and spots mentioned in this article (and more). This one is ‘smartphone friendly’; you can easily use it via the Google Maps app. Click the icon at the top left to open the menu and see the categories. To adapt the map to your own preferences and interests, (de)select a category. Via Google Drive you can copy the map to your own My Google Maps account.
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I hope you find this article useful. Have you ever been to Miyajima Island and/or Hiroshima? Do you have plans to visit Japan? Please share your story and/or question in a comment below.
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Last Updated on 04/05/2021 by Elisa Flitter Fever