Come with me to visit Miyajima island (宮島). Miyajima Island’s official name is Itsukushima. It is an excellent idea to base yourselves at Okayama city, a convenient transportation hub to maximise the use of your 7-day JR Rail Pass to enjoy all the attractive nearby cities that Japan’s Honshu island has to offer. I used the word ‘nearby’ because we had purchased the JR Rail Pass. We stayed at Mitsui Garden Hotel in Okayama.
Let’s go onboard the Shinkansen Sakura bound for JR Hiroshima station whereby we will change train at JR Hiroshima station for JR Sanyo Line for Iwakuni to JR Miyajimaguchi train station. If you are uncertain about the direction to the ferry pier, just follow the crowds when you exit the JR Miyajimaguchi train station. There is 99% chance that these tourists are also on their way to Miyajima island. Take a short walk to the ferry pier and join the crowds queuing for the next ferry, in our case the ferry’s name is Miyajima Maru, to Miyajima Island. The Miyajimaguchi ferry journey to Miyajima Island takes 10 minutes. The JR Miyajima ferry fare is included in your JR Rail Pass. Give 1.5 hours of your time and after two train rides and a ferry ride later you will be rewarded by a Miyajima island escapade, a world away from the traffic noise and hustle and bustle of the Okayama city. Happy days!
If this is your first visit to Japan, do visit my related article on Taking In Tokyo as a Japan first-timer for practical tips.
Why visit the Miyajima Island? The main attraction of Miyajima Island is the O-Torii Gate. Elbow into the crowds and bag yourself a little space to take photos of the O-Torii Gate. You will hear the oohs and aahs chatters of excitement of fellow tourists as the Miyajima Maru ferry brushed past the O-Torii Gate. Torii is a Japanese gate that marks the entrance to a Shinto shrine. At high tide, witness the famous floating O-Torri Gate of the Itsukushima Shrine. At low tide, you can walk to the foot of the O-Torii Gate. Check the tide table here: http://www.tides4fishing.com/jp/hiroshima/itsukushima It is an exciting sight, one that I will never forget!
Look out for some artificial oyster reefs set up by oyster farmers on your ferry ride. If you love oysters, eat some gigantic, plump and juicy oysters in Miyajima.
Come to Miyajima island for day trips or you can also stay over in a ryokan on the Miyajima Island. Miyajima is a remote island, so if you fancy a Starbucks coffee or a McDonalds burger, then you will be sorely disappointed! Therefore, bring all your modern lifestyle’s supplies for your Miyajima Island’s stay.
Meet the wild inhabitants of Miyajima, the deers that roam around begging for scraps from tourists. Be attentive as these local snatch thiefs in the form of cute and docile deers will also snatch your lunch boxes if it is left unattended. I had witnessed a tug of war between a man and a ‘not so docile but definitely hungry’ deer for the prize of a plastic bag filled with yummylicious lunch. Man wins this time!
Relax with some scenic sea views at the remote island paradise of Miyajima.
Can you imagine yourself sitting here on the bench and admiring the sea views?
Here’s a close up shot of Miyajima’s O-Torii.
And from your earlier memories of this article, the O-Torii Gate marks the entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine.
Here’s an example of a Shimenawa.
Once you had enough of sun, sea, deers and had your fill of the great O-Torii Gate, walk through the narrow lanes of Omotesando shopping street. The five-storied pagoda can been seen in the pictures below.
I recommend you to stop for a coffee at Miyajima coffee. For a coffee snob like me, it is wonderful to discover memorable coffee in a remote Japanese island of Miyajima. We bought some coffee beans home as souvenirs and we regretted not buying more coffee beans from Miyajima Coffee. Remember that Japan is the home of Hario, the great coffee brewing equipment supplier. Whist green tea is famous in Japan, the Japanese coffee experience will be the highlight of the Japan’s trip for coffee snobs. Another bonus is that you can use its clean toilet facilities.
Here’s more Miyajima street views of local eateries (e.g. grilled oyster stands) and sake shops to entice you to visit Miyajima.
Strangely, one of the souvenirs of Miyajima is a rice paddle. Meet the world’s largest rice paddle displayed since 1996 to commemorate the UNESCO World Heritage Site award to Itsukushima Shrine. It’s 7.7 meters long, 2.7 meters thick and 2.5 tonnes, apparently carved out of a 270 year old Zelkova tree over a period of 3 years. Here goes the legend behind the rice paddle: Around 1790s to 1800, a Buddhist monk had a dream and the Benzaiten deity taught him how to make a magical rice paddle (Japanese: shamoji 杓文字). There are many shamoji vendors in Miyajima.
If rice paddle is not your kinda thing, you can also buy these souvenirs from Miyajima.
At last, it’s time to say goodbye to Miyajima. I’ve had a relaxing few hours at Miyajima, hope you have enjoyed escaping to Miyajima for a few minutes. Greetings from Miyajima with love! Sayonara (さよなら)!
Must drink coffee
- Miyajima Coffee
Signature drink: Coffee
Address: 464-3 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi 739-0588, Hiroshima, Japan.
- Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY)
- Best Time to Visit: cherry blossom season in spring
- Getting around: Walk
- Getting here: See http://visithiroshima.net/world_heritage/miyajima.html for further details.