Miyajima

Miyajima, the poster child of most if not all Japanese tourism advertisements, is a small little island near Hiroshima. A lot of people visit Hiroshima – which itself can be covered in just one day, for the purpose for visiting Miyajima. You can probably cover both places in a day if you rush through. But that’s not how you enjoy a place wherever you travel.

Miyajima should be an experience because it is a really unique and magical place for me. Although may be fooled by the tourism advertisements but we should always find out by ourselves and decide.

I took a local tram from Hiroshima city center to the ferry terminal to the island and it took about one hour to reach there. One really cool thing about Hiroshima is that the nostalgic trams from by-gone era are still in service and people are still using them for their daily commute. How cool is that!

Nostalgic tram waiting for the passengers in the terminal
Nostalgic tram waiting for the passengers in the terminal
Tram interior view at the night time, people lost in their thoughts
Tram interior view at the night time, people lost in their thoughts

Once the ferry left the terminal, the scenery started to change – from the urban concrete world into nature. While being very close to a large urban city, the surrounding forests, mountains and lakes are still well preserved. Even the water at the ferry terminal or the beach is devoid of man-made garbage.

View of Seto Inland Sea from the ferry to Miyajima
View of Seto inland sea from the ferry to Miyajima
View of Seto inland sea from Miyajima ferry terminal
View of Seto inland sea from Miyajima ferry terminal
People walking along the beach at sunset hour
People walking along the beach at sunset hour

Miyajima is famous for the deer roaming freely around the island and maybe, just maybe a bit infamous for mingling with the people and eating off their stuffs. A deer headbutted me because I didn’t share my rice cake with him but I still find this very cute.

The main attraction in Miyajima is the Itsukushima shrine and the torii gate in the water. The shrine is located on a small inlet with the torii gate build on the Seto inland sea, you can walk over the torii gate on the low tide but in high tide, the gate is in the middle of the water.

Torii gate in the water on the high tide
Torii gate in the water on the high tide
Itsukushima shrine torri gate and its resident deer
Itsukushima shrine torii gate and its resident deer
View of Itsukushima shrine at high tide
View of Itsukushima shrine at high tide

I decided to skip the shrine first to see the rest of the island because it was too crowded. Well, this island is a major tourist attraction so you will need to put up with the crowd.

Traditional residential houses
Traditional residential houses
Temple entrance gate
Temple entrance gate

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Autumn has come to the south as well
Autumn has come to the south as well

Mount Misen is another attraction – which you can either hike up (I tried and almost died from the exhaustion) or take the cable car like any other sane tourists would do. This will bring you to the summit but not the highest point or the best viewing point. You will need to go for about 500 meters hiking trail to get there and this is the only option. Don’t underestimate this 500 meters because this is a really tough terrain to overcome. But once you reached, you will be rewarded with the view which is known as one of the three most scenic views of Japan.

It was foggy and hazy when I reached there, so I was a bit disappointed. I will come again if I have a chance.

View of Seto inland sea from the summit of Mount Misen
View of Seto inland sea from the summit of Mount Misen

I decided to go down to Itsukushima shrine because it is getting pretty close the low tide hour and decided to slowly wait for the sunset and blue hours.

Itsukushima shrine at low tide
Itsukushima shrine at low tide
Wishing coins people nailed into the gate
Wishing coins people nailed into the gate
All the tourists walking over the gate
All the tourists walking over the gate
Itsukushima shine at low tide
Itsukushima shine at low tide
Torii gate at the blue hour
Torii gate at the blue hour

Despite being too loaded with tourists, I still really love this place. There was a sense of peace sitting by the inlet and just people watch while waiting for the sunset. Some thoughts if I visit this place again,

1. Stay on the island for the night. It is expensive but the experience definitely worth the price tag.

2. Start the day very early ahead of the tourist hours and explore again in the late hours.

3. Eat more oysters. That’s why Hiroshima is famous for.

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