Discover Miyajima (Itsukushima): A Perfect Day Trip from Hiroshima

During our trip to Japan in November 2023 we decided to take a day trip to Hiroshima. In an attempt to make the most of the day we decided to also check out Miyajima.

Although, at first we didn’t know much what to expect, our half day visit to Miyajima turned out to be an amazing experience, one we recommend to everyone who is in the area.

Read more below about our experience and why you should also consider visiting this charming island.


Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima, is a small island located in Hiroshima Bay, renowned for its serene beauty and cultural significance.

A day trip to this picturesque destination from Hiroshima offers a perfect blend of natural splendour, historical intrigue, and spiritual tranquility.

The island is most famous for the iconic Itsukushima Shrine and its “floating” torii gate, which appears to be suspended above the water during high tide.

This sight, coupled with the lush greenery of Mount Misen and the charming streets of the island’s villages, makes Miyajima a must-visit spot for any traveller.

As we step off the ferry, the first thing that strikes us is the serene and almost otherworldly atmosphere. The gentle sound of the waves, the fresh sea breeze, and the sight of deer roaming freely on the island add to the island’s charm.

Unlike the bustling city of Hiroshima, Miyajima offers a peaceful retreat where one can immerse oneself in the timeless beauty of Japan’s cultural heritage.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the best ways to travel to and around Miyajima, the optimal times to visit, and the must-see attractions that make this island so special.

Travel to and Around Miyajima

Getting to Miyajima from Hiroshima is relatively straightforward and adds to the adventure of the day trip. You can also get straight from Osaka to Miyajima by getting the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Hiroshima Station and then changing.

We start our journey from Hiroshima Station, where we take the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station.

This train ride is a brief but scenic trip, lasting about 25 minutes. For those with a Japan Rail Pass, this segment of the journey is covered, making it both convenient and economical.

Upon arriving at Miyajimaguchi Station, it’s a short walk to the ferry terminal. Here, we can choose between two ferry companies: JR West and Matsudai. As we had a JR Pass we opted for the JR Ferry as it was already included.

However, even if you don’t have a JR Pass, the price isn’t going to break the bank. You can check the latest prices here.

Both ferries provide frequent services, departing every 15 minutes, and the ride across the Seto Inland Sea takes approximately 10 minutes. We timed our visit to the train and found that the last ferry offered a good sync with the train back to Hiroshima; to do so we recommend you check out the ferry timetable here.

If you are not comfortable doing this on your own, you can consider this 1-Day Hiroshima & Miyajima Tour or this Miyajima Half-day Tour.

As we approach the island, the stunning view of the Itsukushima Shrine’s torii gate gradually comes into view, offering a preview of the beauty that awaits.

Once on the island, getting around is best done on foot. The main attractions are all within walking distance of the ferry terminal, and strolling through the island’s charming streets is part of the experience.

For those looking to explore further afield or ascend Mount Misen, there are other transportation options available.

Getting Around Miyajima


Miyajima is a pedestrian-friendly destination, and walking is the most enjoyable way to explore its many attractions. The island’s compact size means that most sites, including Itsukushima Shrine, the shopping streets, and the various temples, are easily accessible by foot. As we wander, we can enjoy the island’s natural beauty and encounter the friendly deer that roam freely.


For a slightly quicker mode of transport, bicycles can be rented near the ferry terminal. Cycling around Miyajima allows you to cover more ground while still enjoying the outdoors. It’s a great way to visit some of the more distant sites on the island at your own pace.

Ropeway to Mount Misen

To reach the summit of Mount Misen, you can take the Miyajima Ropeway. The ropeway station is a pleasant 30-minute walk from the ferry terminal through Momijidani Park.

We didn’t do the ride ourselves but we are told it’s a good experience, perhaps a reason for us to return. The ride itself offers spectacular views of the island and the Seto Inland Sea.

Once at the top station, it’s a short hike to the summit, where you can enjoy panoramic vistas and explore the mountain’s temples and historical sites.

Organised Tours to Miyajima

You can join an organised tour and explore Miyajima. Here are some recommendations for you to consider:

Best Time to Visit Miyajima

Miyajima is a year-round destination, each season bringing its own unique charm and appeal. However, the timing of your visit can significantly impact your experience, so it’s worth considering the best times to explore this enchanting island.

  • Spring (March to May): Spring is arguably the most beautiful time to visit Miyajima. The weather is pleasantly mild, making it ideal for walking and outdoor activities. The annual cherry blossom festival, typically in early April, is a highlight, with various events and the chance to see the famous torii gate framed by blossoms. Do keep in mind that this season is popular, so expect more crowds.
  • Summer (June to August): Summer brings warm temperatures and a lively atmosphere to Miyajima. The lush greenery of the island is at its peak, and the sea surrounding the island is a striking blue. However, summer can be hot and humid, so be prepared with sun protection and stay hydrated.
  • Autumn (September to November): Autumn is another splendid time to visit Miyajima, with the island’s foliage turning vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold. The weather is cool and crisp, perfect for hiking up Mount Misen or leisurely exploring the island’s cultural sites. This is the time we chose to visit.
  • Winter (December to February): Winter on Miyajima is serene and peaceful, with fewer tourists and a calm, reflective atmosphere. While it’s cooler, the temperatures rarely drop below freezing, and the island rarely sees snow. Visiting the island during this season allows you to enjoy the beauty of Itsukushima Shrine and other landmarks without the hustle and bustle.

Tides and the Torii Gate

An essential factor to consider when planning your visit to Miyajima is the tide schedule. The iconic “floating” torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine appears to be floating during high tide, which is a sight not to be missed.

Conversely, during low tide, you can walk out to the gate and see it up close. Both perspectives offer unique photo opportunities and experiences. Checking the tide times in advance ensures you make the most of your visit.

We were keen to see the floating torii gate, so we timed our trip accordingly. We visited Hiroshima in the morning and the spent the afternoon at Miyajima to catch the high tide.

Things to do in Miyajima

if you are wondering if Miyajima is worth visiting then know that Miyajima is perfect for either a day trip or even half day trip which is what we did from Hiroshima.

Below are the top things we covered and we thought are interesting based on a half day experience on the island.

1. Explore the Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima Shrine is the crown jewel of Miyajima and an unmissable highlight of any visit. This iconic Shinto shrine is renowned for its dramatic setting on the water, giving the illusion that it floats during high tide.

Founded in 593 AD, Itsukushima Shrine has been a place of worship for centuries. The shrine is dedicated to the three daughters of Susanoo, the Shinto God of the sea and storms, reflecting its close relationship with the ocean.

Its historical and cultural importance is such that it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

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2. See the Floating Torii Gate of Miyajima

Perhaps the most iconic symbol of Itsukushima Shrine is the grand torii gate that stands majestically in the water. This torii gate is one of Japan’s most photographed landmarks, and for good reason.

Standing at 16 metres tall, it creates a stunning visual, particularly during high tide when it appears to float on the sea. We stood on a bench admiring the beautiful torii gate and enjoying the calming moments.

During low tide, you have the unique opportunity to walk out to the gate, touch its weathered pillars, and marvel at its construction up close.

3. Check out Hokokujinja Senjokaku Pavilion

Hokokujinja Senjokaku Pavilion, often referred to simply as Senjokaku, is another significant landmark on Miyajima that offers a rich blend of history, culture, and breathtaking views.

Located near Itsukushima Shrine, this expansive wooden hall provides a serene retreat where we can appreciate both the architectural prowess of the past and the tranquil beauty of the island.

Don’t miss the beautiful five story pagoda as well. This reminded us of the pagoda at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto.

From there you can also enjoy splendid views towards the island.

4. Pay a visit to Daigan-ji Temple

Daigan-ji is one of the oldest temples on Miyajima, with origins dating back to the 9th century. It was established during the Heian period and has served as a center for Shingon Buddhism.

Daigan-ji houses several important cultural artifacts, including statues and relics associated with Buddhist practice. Notably, it contains a statue of Fudo Myo-o, a revered deity in Shingon Buddhism.

5. Miyajima Omotesandō Shopping Street

Miyajima Omotesandō Shopping Street is the vibrant heart of the island, offering a delightful mix of traditional charm and modern convenience.

This bustling street, which stretches from the ferry terminal towards Itsukushima Shrine, is lined with a variety of shops, eateries, and stalls, providing an immersive experience of local culture, crafts, and cuisine.

As we already had lunch in Hiroshima we indulged ourselves in an ice cream right by the waterfront in front of the Torii Gate. A view for the books.

Final Thoughts

Our day trip to Miyajima from Hiroshima has been nothing short of magical. This island, with its harmonious blend of natural beauty, historical depth, and spiritual significance, offers an experience that stays with us long after we left.

Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:

  • Accommodation – would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as or Agoda to get the best rates. We also use TripAdvisor to read reviews.

  • Transport – consider for car renting or if you rely on public transport, you can use Omio for trains, coaches, ferries, airport transfers and even flights.

  • Activities – a great option is GetYourGuide, Klook or Viator for tours, excursions, experiences and tickets to many tourist attractions.

  • Travel money – we have Starling Bank accounts (UK residents only) with 0% fees on FX and a good Mastercard exchange rate. Revolut is another good option.

  • Internet abroad – with Airalo or Nomad you can access a wide range of eSIMs (digital SIM cards) available for different countries and regions.

  • Luggage storage – if you need to store your bags whilst exploring the destination, you can use Radical Storage to find your closest luggage storage and enjoy your journey until the very end.

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