Also known as Itsukushima, Miyajima is a small island less than an hour outside the city of Hiroshima and best known for its giant torii gate which at high tide seems to float on the water. Miyajima is believed to be the island where God dwells. It is said that Itsukushima Shrine (the island’s key shrine) is built on the coast because the whole island is believed to be God’s body and is sanctified. Like the torii gate, the shrine’s main buildings are built over water. The sight of Miyajima is ranked as one of Japan’s three best views.
The centuries-old Itsukushima Shrine is known worldwide for its floating torii gate and shrine. Built over water, the shrine and torii gate seems to be floating in the sea during high tide. The shrine complex consists of multiple buildings, including a prayer hall, the main hall and a noh theatre stage, which are connected by boardwalks and supported by pillars above the sea. After sunset, the shrine and the torii gate are illuminated daily until 23:00 creating a solemn and picturesque scenery. Alternatively, tourists can view the illuminated island from boat cruises. Cruises last thirty minutes and take passengers around the bay and through the torii gate (during high tide only). Activities: Photo stop Fee: JPY 300 Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Located to the west of Itsukushima Shrine by a 10-minute walk is Daisho-in Temple, one of the most important temples of Shingon Buddhism. It was where the sect's founder, Kobo Daishi, first began the practice of Buddhism on the island of Miyajima. Countless statues in many different shapes and sizes are enshrined in the spacious premises. Many great people had worshipped and visited here since ancient times. One of the highlights is a cave filled with 88 icons representing the temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage. (Image via Japan Web Magazine)
Activities: Photo stop, Temple visit Fee: None Time required: 40 minutes-1 hour
At 500 meters above sea level, Mount Misen is the highest peak on Miyajima. On clear days, it affords spectacular views of the Seto Inland Sea and as far as Hiroshima City. You can go to the top of Mount Misen by cable car or on foot. On the top, there is a group of giant rocks and you can enjoy the view of the scenic Seto Inland Sea from the viewing platform. Three hiking trails are leading up Misen: the Momijidani Course, the Daisho-in Course and the Omoto Course. Of the three, the Daisho-in Course offers the nicest views and is not as steep as the other two.
Activities: Photo stop Fee: JPY 1840 (round trip ropeway) Time required: Minimum 1 hour
Omotesando Shotengai is the main street from the port to Itsukushima Shrine. This street, which is about 350 meters long and lined with nearly 70 shops is a lively hub of souvenir shops and bite-sized snack stalls. Local delicacies include Momiji manju—a bun with a bean-jam filling made from maple leaves, conger eel and grilled oysters. Enjoy shopping for a popular souvenir—wooden spatulas. Officially known as the Miyajima shamoji, the craftsmanship of these spatulas varies in purpose, and price. From classic rice scooping paddles to decorative dippers, any spatula purchased here is believed to bring good luck. (Image via GaijinPot)