Guest writer: Urusai_Uni#0007
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a snack called Momiji Manju, a kind of filled cake that’s unique to an island called Miyajima. I went to Miyajima back in 2013 and it’s one of those places that has just stuck with me ever since. Miyajima is much more than just manju, however, so if you get a chance to visit this amazing little place, here’s some more things to add to your activity list!
Surprisingly, Miyajima isn’t actually names Miyajima! It’s real name is Itsukushima, but it’s much more commonly called Miyajima which means “shrine island”. This is because one of the focal points of the island is the Itsukushima Shrine, a shinto shrine with a large Tori-i gate that stands in the water when the tide is in.
Miyajima Island is a ferry’s ride outside of Hiroshima and is a great day trip if you’re there and looking for a little bit of extra sightseeing. It’s 10 minutes and it’s free with the JR Rail Pass! (Read about it here!) Coming in on the ferry, you get a wonderful view of Itsukushima Shrine!
Hiking is one activity that can be enjoyed on the island, as there’s plenty of places to explore, from the beach to the hills. If you’re looking for a bit more of an active hike though, Mt. Misen is for you! It’s about a two hour hike one way to the top and you can look out across the entire island. Another place to visit at Mt. Misen is the Daisho-In Temple which is located at its base.
If hiking isn’t really your thing, then check out the shopping street on Miyajima. There is where you’ll find all sorts of souvenirs and the momiji manju shops! The shopping street is the place to get lunch (and a treat!) while picking up all of your gifts to take back home.
While I won’t go into much detail on all the restaurants in the area, I am going to list a few of my favorites. Yamadaya is an awesome place to both eat Momiji-Manju and to try making it yourself! If you’ve had a long day and looking to give yourself a boost of energy, Miyajima Coffee is a wonderful place to grab a steaming cup of coffee. Then to end your trip, Yakigaki No Hayashi is a wonderful seafood restaurant that truly lets you experience the tastes of the local culture.
As for souvenirs, there are several which are very unique to the area. A Shakushi (wooden rice scoop), is a common souvenir found in the area and they come in a wide variety of styles. The other souvenir that’s a must have is a miniature Torri gate. Both of these pieces will certainly make for great gifts and wonderful decorations. If you’re in a rush to get a souvenir and don’t know where to go, Miyajima Souvenir Shop Funatsuki, which is about a 5 minutes walk from Miyajima Pier, is a great place to stop at.
Just a short walk past the shopping street will get you to Itsukushima Shrine. Go out during low tide to be able to walk along the beach, or at high tide to see the “floating” gate! Night time is another amazing time to go see the shrine because it is completely lit up, making it look like something out of a movie.
One thing to keep an eye out for is the local deer population. Miyajima, much like Nara, is home to a large population of deer who are definitely not afraid of humans. They wander around among the people shopping or walking the beach. They’ll even try their best to get into buildings if they’re allowed! (The first time I saw one was inside the ferry depot, which was a bit of a surprise!) While these deer aren’t necessarily dangerous, they are still wild and should be treated like it. If you’re not careful, they’ll snatch whatever they can get a hold of to eat, whether it’s ice cream, a paper bag, or your JR pass!
If you find yourself wanting to spend the night, then you’re in luck! There are several Ryokan across Miyajima which you can stay at. Prices vary between 125 USD and 300 USD so it’s up to you which one would best suit your budget. There is definitely more than enough to experience on the island to warrant an overnight stay!
Miyajima is definitely a wonderful location to visit if you can fit it into your trip. With the multitude of shrines, shops, hiking paths, and scenic hiking paths, the island will certainly keep you busy! Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this amazing location as it’s certainly worth taking a day trip out to visit.