Every time I travel somewhere new in Japan, I always like to look at the possible day trips from that location as well. One well-known place that I recently visited myself (which is perfect for day trips from Hiroshima) is Miyajima. But is Miyajima worth visiting?
If you’ve got enough time on your itinerary and aren’t trying to fit too much in, visiting Miyajima for a day trip from Hiroshima is a fantastic idea. From scenic mountain hikes and incredible food to one of the most beautiful temples in Japan, this little island has it all. It’s even home to the world’s biggest rice spoon!
While visiting Miyajima was worth it for me, depending on time constraints and your personal idea of what ‘interesting’ is, you may take a different stance. So, sit back and grab yourself a cup of tea, and let’s get into it!
Getting to Miyajima
For a lot of people, myself included, understanding whether or not a place is worth visiting will come down to more than just the things that are there. Perhaps most importantly it will include the practicalities of getting to a location and the costs involved. For instance, Kyoto and Nikko are both very simple to get to, while Miyajima is a little different.
As you’ve likely already read in my ultimate guide to Hiroshima, I’m not only a big fan of the city, but also the tourist passes it offers. Luckily for us, it just so happens to offer one that’s perfect for Miyajima.
In the right circumstances, the One Day Streetcar & Ferry Pass is a fantastic choice for a lot of people. At only ¥900, you’ll have access to all of Hiroshima’s streetcars as well as a ferry to take you to and from Miyajima.
If you’re interested in purchasing this pass, take a look at the article I linked above for all the instructions. It’s super easy!
If you’re planning on exploring a little bit in the evening or morning (which will likely see you on a few streetcars), this pass is 100% worth it. Just make sure you add up the trips you’re planning on taking beforehand to make sure.
All you have to do is scratch off the correct Day, Month, and Year, and after showing it to the conductor you’ll be allowed on the streetcars for no cost. Luckily for us, these cars get us all the way to the ferry at
Granted, it takes a little bit of time to trundle all the way up here but it beats paying extortionate prices for the ferry next to the Dome.
The map below shows the routes you can take to Hiroden-Miyajimaguchi Station. The JR Line is definitely the fastest at 37 minutes, and the free (if you’ve bought the pass) streetcar route takes over an hour.
Once you arrive at the station, if you have the JR Pass instead, you’ll want to use their ferry. If you’ve bought this pass instead, look for the Matsudai Kanko Kisen ferry entrance. It’s usually a lot less crowded which is really nice.
Of course, certain days and times are just going to be busy no matter what. Annoyingly we weren’t able to get a seat on the way to the island, but that’s not really an issue as it only takes 10 minutes or so.
Once you arrive, it’ll take less than a minute to walk into the port, and out onto the main island. Everything is signposted and easy to understand, so there’ll be no problems with getting lost.
Inside the port, you’ll find a number of seats to wait for ferries, places to buy tickets, grab a quick snack, and also go to the toilet. It’s relatively quiet, but it definitely packs out just before the next ferry leaves Miyajima.
So, while it takes somewhat of a long time to get to the ferry, it’s a very straightforward trip and definitely not worth canceling over (unless you don’t have the time). Access-wise, Miyajima is worth visiting.
The deer of Miyajima Island
While I’ve been to Nara Park, a place full of deer, many times, it’s no less exciting for me to see them up close again. Miyajima gives you the perfect opportunity to do so, and it’s actually a lot less intense than being surrounded by so many at once like so often happens in Nara.
However, please make sure to clean up your mess. The amount of deer I saw trying to eat trash from the floor really wasn’t good. While Japan doesn’t have a lot of bins, there are plenty by all the shops here in Miyajima. Still can’t find one? Take your rubbish back to the hotel.
I’m aware that this has been a significant problem on the island for a long time now, so do your bit and clean up after yourself! ^_^
Miyajima and the crowds
If I had one reservation about recommending Miyajima as a place to visit, it would be the crowds. While Miyajima is worth visiting if you’ve got the time, the crowds are likely to put a few people off.
However, take into consideration the fact that I went there in Spring so things were bound to be more cramped than usual.
If you’re looking for a ‘serene’ or ‘zen’ escape, at first glance while you walk around the edge of the island you may regret your decision for coming. As far as I was concerned, I’d just walked into a huge tourist hotspot.
Follow that through to the shopping district (which we’ll talk about in more detail later), and things don’t get any better. Time of day and time of year both affect the number of people, though. I should never have assumed it would be anything less than packed in Spring.
However, what I soon realized was something I constantly preach on this site. By walking that little bit further than everyone else, you can find your own escape even during the busiest periods of time.
The backstreets of Miyajima
It’s easy to forget that Miyajima is a living & working island with a large number of residents. As I grew tired of weaving my way through the many day trippers (myself included), I wandered ‘off the beaten track’ to find something a little less hectic.
Here are a few photos from my (fairly brief) walk around Miyajima Island:
I’ve got a few videos as well but I’m fairly certain that they would slow this page down too much. I’ll upload them to my Youtube channel as soon as I remember.
Basically, just wander a little further into the island and you can completely change your experience of the place, even if it’s rammed with people.
Pick up a map from the port (where the ferry dropped you off) and you’ll find a few different routes you can do. Go with the idea of getting lost and you’ll have an absolute blast!
Miyajima Omotesandō Shopping Street
Easily walkable for practically anyone, the Miyajima Omotesandō Shopping Street is, as the name suggests, a great area to do some shopping. As far as I’m concerned, the shops are catered towards tourists which means high prices and less authentic products than you’d ideally like.
Though, I should have expected as much. It’s the same in any popular destination around the world.If you do fancy buying a few souvenirs for back home, here are a couple of things to look out for:
Autumn is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful times to visit Japan during the year. Whether your visit happens to coincide with that date or not, tucking into a few Momiji Manju is a great way to appreciate everything that season has to give.
As a local food, created in Miyajima during the early 20th century you’ll be unsurprised to find a number of vendors selling this tasty snack.
What is Manjū?
Made by kneading flour and usually filled with anko (red bean paste), Manjū is available to buy pretty much anywhere in Japan. Miyajima however, is probably the only place to buy it where it’s formed into the shape of a Japanese maple leaf.
If you’ve never used one of these bad boys to scope out rice, you’re definitely missing out! Normally made of plastic, these paddle-like spoons are traditionally (and presently) used to both stir and serve rice.
Looking for a unique attraction on Miyajima?
Up until this point, you may not have thought Miyajima is worth visiting, but what if I told you that it’s home to the biggest Shamoji in the world? Thought that might change your mind! 😉
Unfortunately, I only found out about this place just after I left which means I don’t have a picture of it (but here’s one on the Miyajima official tourist site). Not that I have a random obsession with rice paddles, but it’s still a very impressive sight.
It took just under 3 years to complete, and at a length of 7.7m, I’m not surprised!
As I briefly touched upon further above, Miyajima Omotesandō Shopping Street is another very popular spot on the island that is prone to getting busy. It was lunchtime when we visited which meant we were shoulder to shoulder for most of the time.
However, if you take your time and walk all the way through the arcade, you’ll find all sorts of little areas and alleyways leading off for your to further explore. Plus, you’ll likely find a few more ‘local’ eateries that in my opinion made for a much nicer experience.
Itsukushima Shrine is one of the main if not the main, reason that people come to Miyajima in the first place. If you’re looking for a visually stunning temple, it’s absolutely worth visiting.
Turn the other way, and you’ll be presented with one of the most famous Torii gates in the world. It’s absolutely huge and definitely worth seeing.
You’ll find that lots of people stop to take photos of it along the corner of the island (pictured slightly further up), but that’s to be expected.
Depending on what time you visit, the gate I took a photo of above may even be accessible by foot. As the tide goes out, it reveals a clear path to the gate.
If you’re interested in getting up close and even touching it, then it’s worth checking the times before you go. We saw it on both occasions, though we didn’t walk out to it.
How long should you spend in Miyajima?
This is a tricky question to answer, and it’s important to know that you can adapt the time spent here to suit your schedule. You could technically spend multiple days on this island, exploring all its secret passages, local eateries, and everything in between, but for the average traveler that’s not something that I would recommend.
If you aren’t staying in Miyajima but are instead visiting from Hiroshima or neighboring areas, I would suggest either a full or half day is enough time to spend here.
Again, if your entire trip isn’t too long, you’ll definitely need to prioritize your time. Half a day really can make a difference.
“I’ve only got half a day”
For instance, if you can’t spend a full day here (but still want to go), then every second counts. If, in this case, you have the money to do so you might think about taking the ferry from next to the Dome or perhaps using the JR line instead of the streetcar.
It’ll be more expensive than taking the streetcars as we discussed earlier, but you’ll also be able to spend way more of your time on the island without traveling. When you’re on the island, what you do will largely depend on what interests you.
You’ll have time to visit the temple, grab a bite to eat, and look at the Torii gate. Anything else might be pushing it if you have solid times you need to leave by.
That said, I’d really recommend just getting lost in the many side alleys and doing your best to find a bit of authentic Japan on your way.
“I’ve got a full day”
If you’ve got a full day to spare, you’ll be able to take your time and visit most of the attractions that Miyajima has to offer.
Perhaps that might involve a trip to Mount Misen, which at 500m will give you spectacular views out as far as Hiroshima city on a clear day. It’ll take you about 1.5 – 2 hours to get up there, or you can grab the cable car for more incredible views.
Tip: You can pay a few extra yen when you buy the Hiroden Streetcar pass and that’ll get you a big discount on the cable car!
Is Miyajima worth visiting?
For the most part, Miyajima is worth visiting, but it definitely depends on how much time you have to spare. We made the slightly disastrous decision to plan something in the afternoon and severely underestimate the amount of time it took to get there, look around, and get back. Plus, we weren’t in a financial position to take any shorter routes.
For us on that time scale, Miyajima was not worth visiting, but I could absolutely understand that with a bit of planning it would be. Just remember to bring some of those tasty tasty Manju back with you and then anything else is a bonus!
Also if you’re visiting during Summer, you could even have a quick dip in the ocean if it gets too hot. That’s something I’m incredibly jealous of after visiting these crystal-clear pools near Mount Fuji!
Looking for something a bit closer to Tokyo? Hakone is the perfect day trip from the country’s capital city. But is it right for you?
FAQs about Miyajima
Are there any tours that include Miyajima?
There certainly are! Here are 8 of the most popular tours that are either based on Miyajima or include it in their itinerary:
How long is the ferry from Hiroshima to Miyajima?
It takes around 45 minutes and costs ¥2,000 for a single or ¥3,600 for a return ticket. You’ll find it directly next to the peace memorial park and it’s by far the most convenient and quickest way to get there. Though, it’s also the most costly.
What is the best time of day to visit Miyajima?
If you visit around mid-morning, you’ll be able to see the shrine both when the tide is high and low. Ideally, you’d get there even earlier though so you can have a few hours of fairly peaceful exploring.
Can you do Hiroshima and Miyajima in one day?
Ideally, the answer to this would be yes, and I’ve noticed an alarming number of bloggers and YouTubers suggesting you could. The reality however is very different. If you actually want to spend enough time to appreciate your surroundings in either of these places, you cannot do both of them in a single day. That said if you’re literally just traveling to be able to say “I’ve been there” then it’ll likely be possible.
Is it better to stay in Hiroshima or Miyajima?
That greatly depends on what you’re looking for. If you’d prefer something relatively quiet (at least until the day trippers get there), then go for Miyajima. You’ll be able to explore practically all of the island at your own pace, though you may be limited to food & accommodation options.
If you’re more interested in the buzz and things to do in a bigger city, stay in Hiroshima. Either way, you’ll be able to explore the one you aren’t staying at during the daytime if you chose to.