An hour away from Hiroshima is Miyajima, an island regarded as the “Island of Gods.” The island is officially named Itsukushima but is more commonly referred to as Miyajima, which means “shrine island.” Aside from the shrines and temples that can be visited, Miyajima also offers beautiful scenery of nature and delectable local cuisine. In this article are recommended places to visit in Miyajima!
Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine and a registered World Heritage Site on the island of Miyajima. The shrine is famous for its iconic torii gate, which appears to be “floating” on water. Both the shrine and its torii gate are unique because they are both built over water.
With that in mind, it is important to be informed of the timings of the tides during your trip. During low tide, the water is drained from the bay which allows visitors to walk out and have a closer view of the gate. On the other hand, during high tide, the water rushes back in and submerges the gate – the time when it is at its most picturesque.
After renovations and improvements, the Miyajima Public Aquarium reopened in August 2011. Like many public aquariums, this houses several species of marine life. The most notable display in the aquarium is an oyster farm, which represents the oyster farms in Miyajima. Other attractions include a touch pool and a live show pool.
Located at the foot of Mt. Misen and with over 700 maple trees, Momijidani Park is a favorite spot to visit whenever the season changes. There are cherry blossoms in spring, green and healthy trees during the summer, and shades of brown, red, and yellow in autumn.
Mt. Misen is considered the highest peak on Miyajima at 500 meters above sea level. There are three hiking trails available: the Momijidani Course, the Daishoin Course, and the Omoto Course. The Momijidani Course is the shortest yet also the steepest, while the Daishoin Course is not that steep and offers beautiful views while trekking up the mountain.
Although not as famous as Itsukushima Shrine, Daishoin Temple is still very much worthy of a visit. It is one of the most important temples of Shingon Buddhism and is located at the base of Mt. Misen.
A Buddhism ritual can be practiced when walking up the temple’s steps. Along the sides of the stairs are rows of metal wheels that are inscribed with Buddhist scriptures. Turning these wheels is believed to be the same as reading them, so even if visitors do not know Japanese, it is still possible for them to receive the blessings from the sutra through this ritual.
If you want to know more about the history of Miyajima, then the Miyajima History and Folklore Museum is the perfect place to visit. In this museum, arts, artifacts, and local ceremonies are put on display.
Aside from being the Island of Gods, Miyajima is also rich in nature and history. Visitors are most definitely attracted to Itsukushima Shrine’s torii gate, but it is guaranteed that they stay for the other things the island has to offer. Explore more of Miyajima in the future!