A wonderful day trip to Miyajima Island and the Iconic Torii gate and Itsukushima shrine that draws people from far away.
Day 26 – March 29th, 2014.
Up early with the alarm to go visit Miyajima Island.
We are out of the house in good time even though we both had restless nights. It’s a nice early morning which is pleasant as we make our way to Shin-Osaka for the bullet train to Hiroshima then we change to the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi then take the JR ferry to the island. The total journey takes about three hours.
“Japan’s train station platform Kiosk and selection”
We reserve two seats going and coming back and at the platform we buy bento boxes with coffee, this time they are more expensive and actually not as nice either. The chicken was crumbed and greasy. But it was a feed and covered us until way after lunch time.
We got off in Hiroshima station and changed trains easily to the Sanyo Line and exactly 8 (eight) stops along this line and we reach Miyajimaguchi.
Be careful not to get off at the wrong stop, as a place a couple of stops before has a similar name (Miyauchi-Kushido) and many tourists make the mistake, funny enough there are plenty of signs saying don’t get off here!!
“Miyajima Island and the Iconic Torii gate and Itsukushima shrine”
Out of the station and a short walk to the ferry terminal which is straight down the road, you can’t miss it where we caught the next ferry across, they are very regular.
“The JR ferry actually goes towards the O-Torii (Grand gate)”
and turns in front giving great views of this vermilion coloured gate. It is the most noted symbol of Miyajima. The weather is good and it’s high tide. You can check out the tide times here for future reference which helps when planning a trip to Miyajima Island especially if you want to see the O-Torii gate at high and low tide and you can see the cherry blossom are out.
“Miyajima deer will eat paper and clothing, be warned”
The ferry only takes about 12 minutes and we are soon getting off. A short walk along to the right takes us closer to the Torii gate. Wild deer can be seen as we walk along the crowded paths. We stop as a deer that is in our path, who proceeds to bite my map!! On later reading the map it clearly says that the deer may eat paper and cloth!!
We walk on until we reach the Torii gate which is not far. There are plenty of people around and getting a clear shot of the gate is difficult.
The weather is good to us and we decide to walk up to the Ropeway (cable car) stop, you never know how the weather will be later, but first we spot a coffee place and pop in for one which is really good and we savour the taste.
“Our walk takes us through the Momijidani Park past the Miyama-Jinja Shrine”
Onwards we march and pay our fee at a strange place just on the side of the road which is the fee for the ropeway, bizarre but hey. Our walk takes about ten minutes to reach the station through the Momijidani Park past the Miyama-Jinja Shrine. You can get a bus, but then you’d miss out on the nice walk.
“a short gondola ride gets us to the top station of Mt Misen”
The first cable cars are small, for six people which is strange as the pictures all show a bigger cable car. The ride on our way up takes in some great views for sure. At the half way station we have to change into the next ropeway, this is the one on all the pictures you see. In we get and a short ride gets us to the top station of Mt Misen.
Now we can see the very top which is still some way away and we decide to walk up, as do many others. After a while the walk, with many steps starts taking its toll on us and we have to rest more often, our colds have knocked a lot of energy from us for sure.
“The View to the top of Mt Misen”
“the Reika-do Hall is home to the eternal flame”
We battle on and finally make it to the next stage, stopping for a while and visit the Reika-do Hall that houses the eternal flame here we light candles ourselves. The flame has been burning for 1200 years, yes that’s not a miss print.
“Our next climb is to the summit”
it sounds like mount Everest climb yet it’s only 535 metres above sea level. On the way a Japanese lady offers us a chocolate sweet which we enjoy immensely and actually fuels us for the last heave ho. At the top we have awesome views of all around.
“we enjoy the panorama view from Mt Misen”
By now it’s definitely getting colder and the wind is picking up. We stay for a while to take it all in then we head back down, this is easier but really gets you in the knees.
We pass school kids on their way up and ask them if they have come from the very bottom and yes they had, in just over 2.5 hours… We continue down to the cable station and then to the bottom. As we get to the base it just starts to rain, lucky us.
“the Itsukushima Shrine is registered as a World Heritage Site”
As we walk to the Itsukushima Shrine which was registered as a World Heritage Site in 1996 we can see the queue a mile long and decide to give it a miss. Another must see World Heritage Site that is close by is the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima. You can read more about the Itsukushima shrine here.
Now that it’s low tide we can walk out to the Torii gate which lots of people are doing as it is this perfect timing.
“You can get right up to the O-Torii gate as nearly all the water drains away”
People are eagerly sticking coins to the gate and the wet sand all around is covered in them. We only spend a little time walking around trying to keep out of the puddles.
The rain is coming on now so we head back towards the village through the Omotesando arcade and find ourselves a place to eat the famous okonomiyakai dish from here, Hiroshima and Osaka.
“Our first time eating the famous Okonomiyaki”
lucky for us we go into a restaurant and can sit at the cooking bar and watch as they prepare them. First up is a pancake, then topped with sliced cabbage, bacon rashers, spring onion. Noodles are heated on the flat top before going onto the pancake. An egg is fried and added, this is then turned over and sauce is brushed on top. Special seasoning is sprinkled on and cut ready to serve.
It is very tasty and we enjoy our first okonomiyakai. If this dish doesn’t tempt you, then maybe the huge oyster that are grilled in the half shell. Hiroshima Prefecture is the No.1 oyster producer in Japan, harvesting 54% of the nations oyster.
“Momiji-manju the maple-leaf-shaped cakes are yummy”
After, we continue with our stroll through the village and in many shop fronts you can see people and machines producing small batter filled cakes. The whole area smells so yummy, you’re just sucked in to try what they are. YUMMY, they are called Momiji-manju (maple leaf-shaped cakes) that are like waffle cakes with various fillings, we tried chocolate and custard, very nice with a cup of hot tea. Originally they were made with red bean paste as the filling, but over time have changed and added more flavours including cheese!!
We brave the rain and make our way back to the ferry now as the grotty weather has set in. The plan to visit Hiroshima on the way back will be missed and postponed for another day.
We cancel our later reservation and take the earlier Shinkansen back home. Back at Sembayashiomiya we stop off for a burger at Mos Burger before heading to our apartment.