Miyajima Island Japan

Itsukushima, or more commonly known as Miyajima, is home to a giant torii gate which is a world heritage site.  

It is ranked as one of the three best views in Japan.

Miyajima – The Sacred Island Filled with History, Good Food, and Friendly Deer

Miyajima Island in Hiroshima, with a close-up of a deer and the famous Toori gate in the background.

While there are no amusement parks or high-tech attractions on Miyajima, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan.  Normally, I avoid crowds of people like the plague.

The torii (Shinto shrine archway) stands freely in the waters offshore.  This torii gate is believed to be the boundary between the spirit and human worlds.  At high-tide, the gate appears to float above the water.  At low-tide, you go down to the beach and walk right up to it.  The amazing thing about this shrine is that it is not buried in the seabed.  It stands freely, supported by its own weight.

However, Miyajima is different.

While there will probably be crowds of people waiting to get on the ferry (which is huge and takes tons of people per trip), once you get to the island it feels very relaxed.  Sure, the main street that is lined with gift shops, restaurants, and  food vendors, will have lots of people there.

Miyajima Island Street Stores line the streets.
cowardlion / Shutterstock.com

While many of the restaurants and stores will have lines of people waiting to get in, it’s not that bad at all.

I have been there many times, even during the holiday season when it gets really busy.  I never had to wait for more than a few minutes to buy food or gifts.  Maybe I just got lucky.  But compared to places like Tokyo Disneyland, where waiting times can reach up to 4 hours, Miyajima is a walk in the park.

What To Do When You Get There

For a small island, you could easily spend a couple of days taking in all of the sights.  If possible, you should stay on the island overnight.  If you will only be there for the day, you still can see a lot of the island.

Miyajima Island A woman is next to a deer and Taking a Picture With the Deer
Suchart Boonyavech / Shutterstock.com

Upon exiting the ferry terminal, you will be greeted by some of the 4 legged residents there.  These cute deer are domesticated, but that doesn’t mean they won’t attack if threatened.  Treat them with respect and they’ll do the same.

If you follow the path next to the ocean, it will take you to the main street (Omotesando) that is lined with restaurants and gifts shops.  There will also be a lot of food venders selling some rather unique items. One of the specialties of Miyajima is oysters.  You will see many vendors grilling these oysters on the shell.  You can get these raw but I highly recommend you try them grilled.  

Oysters on the half shel on a bed of ice with a Japanese red toori gate decoration and sauce on the plate.

Other items I have seen are Chinese buns filled with pork or unagi (sea eel), melon bread (shaped like a melon, but no melon flavor) filled with ice cream, many flavors of fish cakes (nigiri ten), and another specialty of Hiroshima, momiji manju

Momiji manju are cakes shaped like maple leaves, and traditionally  filled with red bean paste. There are lots of other modern fillings like cream, cheese, green tea flavored bean paste, custard, chocolate, and much, much more.  There are many stores that have the machines to make momiji manju on display, so you can see exactly how they are made. 

Miyajima Famous Food Momiji Manju on a plate with maple leaves around it.

There are also many gifts shops, filled with little trinkets, food, and traditional Japanese items you can buy.

As you continue down the path, you will eventually reach the torii gate.  So here is your chance to take some awesome pictures.

Miyajima Toori Gate at Night with a full moon in the sky in the background.

I’m not really into the whole temple and shrine thing, but there are many to be found on Miyajima.  Some of them are really photo worthy.

There is also an aquarium at the edge of town, as well as museums.  If you will only be there for the day, I think that skipping the aquarium is a good idea.  Just exploring the island and the shops can take up a good part of your day. For an awesome view, hike or take the ropeway up to Mount Misen. 

Miyajima Island Top of Mount Misen with a view of the trees and ocean.

On your way there, you’ll pass by Momijidani Park, where you can see 200 maples trees.  They are particularly stunning in the fall, when the leaves change to breath-taking hues of red, orange, and yellow.

Miyajima Island -  Entrance to Momijidani Park


In addition to hiking, eating, and taking pictures, you can also try a few hands on activities.  There are workshops where you can make your own shakushi (Japanese rice paddle) or your own momiji manju.  Reservations are required for this at least a week in advance.  You also need to have a group of at least 5 people to sign-up.

Check out this video walk-through of the island.

【4K】Walking on Miyajima (Itsukushima)

How to Get There

By train:  Head to the Miyajimaguchi Station on the JR Sanyo Line (headed to Iwakuni).  It takes around 30 minutes from JR Hiroshima Station and costs 410 yen each way.

By streetcar:  Take the streetcar (Hiroshima Electric Railway) from Hiroshima station and get off at Hiroden Miyajimaguchi Station.

From Miyajimaguchi:  Walk to the ferry port.  From the JR Miyajimaguchi Station, its about a 5-7 minute walk.

Take the JR Ferry to Miyajima.  The trip takes around 10 minutes.  You can use the JR Japan Rail Pass for this ferry.

If you don’t have a rail pass, it will cost 180 yen for adults and 90 yen for children each way.

People waiting in line for the Miyajima Ferry in Hiroshima.
Anutr Yossundara / Shutterstock.com

You can also take the Matsudai Kisen Ferry to Miyajima.  The prices are also 180 yen for adults, and 90 yen for children.

Staying There

If you have the chance to stay on Miyajima overnight, you should definitely do it. 

Miyajima Island at Night. Stone lanterns running along the street to the left, and the ocean to the right.

You’ll get to see a side of Miyajima that most people miss. You can watch the sunset,and enjoy walking around the island in peace, without being surrounded by crowds of people.

You’ll also get to experience the island at night, where the light from the lanterns gives the island a very spiritual and mysterious feeling to it.


If you are anywhere close to Hiroshima, you should definitely spend a day (or night) on Miyajima.  It truly offers something for everyone.  There’s lots of culture and history, lots of good food, free-roaming deer, and beautiful nature.

Top Attractions in Hiroshima

A man looking at the exhibits at theHiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with a close-up picture of the  A -Bomb Dome
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Hiroshima - Miyajima Island Torii Gate in the Ocean
Itsukushima (Miyajima Island)
Hiroshima Castle Taken From afar.  The building in the city can be seen in the background.
Hiroshima Castle
Shukkeien Garden in Hiroshima with a red Bridge over a pond.
Shukkeien Garden
Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum Sign with a statue of a horse with wings next to it.
Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum
A baseball game with a full crowd at night at the Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium in Hiroshima
Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium
The Former Bank of Japan Hiroshima Branch
The Former Bank of Japan (Kyu-Nichi-Gin)


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