Monday, February 6, 2023

Miyajima: The Island of Deers

We continue the Japan Travel Series to the next-to-last destination: Miyajima - the island of deers. This is truly a magical place, a probably the highlight of the trip. Miyajima combines food, drinks, relaxation, nature and Japans history unlike any other place. It is located an half hour from Hiroshima, and a ferry takes you to the island (both train and ferry are included in the JR Travel Pass). Once you make it to the island, the footprint is relatively small, but probably the most enjoyable. Come with us on a wonderful day trip!

Traveling to Miyahima Island

Miyajima Island, also known as Itsukushima, is a must-visit destination for those traveling to Japan. Located in the Hiroshima Prefecture, this small island is famous for its picturesque views, historic shrines, and its iconic floating torii gate. Getting to Miyajima is easy, simply take a train from Hiroshima to Miyajimaguchi Station and then hop on a ferry for a 10-minute ride to the island. Once you arrive, the first thing you will notice is the grand torii gate that seems to float in the water at high tide. This gate is considered one of Japan's most iconic sights and is a popular spot for tourists to take pictures. 

Miyajima Street Food

Aside from its historical and natural attractions, Miyajima is also known for its delicious street food. From grilled oysters to maple-leaf shaped mochi, there are many tasty treats to try while on the island.  The oysters are made fresh and are grilled right after you order them. The mochi cakes are also great. We got ours with apple filling (usually they come with a bean paste which wasn't that delicious to us).

Deer on Miyajima Island

Miyajima Island is also famous for its wild Sika deer, which roam freely throughout the island. These deer are considered sacred in Japanese Shinto culture and are believed to be messengers of the gods. As a result, they are protected and are not considered pests, despite their curious nature. You will often see the deer roaming around the island, especially in the main town area. They are known to be friendly, but can also be persistent in their pursuit of food.  Many visitors enjoy watching the deer, as they add to the island's unique and charming atmosphere. While enjyoing a sunny moment on the beach a few came up to us so we did take selfies with them. Now that's a unique experience you won't get at many places.

Itsukushima Shrine

The island is also home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Itsukushima Shrine. This shrine was built in 593 AD and is considered one of Japan's oldest shrines. You can explore the shrine's grounds and take in the breathtaking views of the bay. When the water is low you can even walk up to it. Since we visited it during the end of the day, we couldn't get too close.

Climbing Mount Misen

Another popular attraction on the island is Mount Misen, the highest peak on Miyajima Island. Visitors can hike to the summit and take in panoramic views of the surrounding area. The hike takes around 2 hours, but is well worth it for the stunning views at the top. We didn't climb the peek, since we wanted a relaxing day at the beach. This was the 10th day of our road trip and we needed a break from walking so much!

O-torii Bridge

The red bridge on Miyajima Island, known as the O-torii, is a wooden bridge that connects the island to the mainland. It is one of the most iconic sights on the island, known for its bright vermilion color and its size. The O-torii is considered the gate to the Itsukushima Shrine and is a symbol of the island's sacred and historical significance. The current O-torii was built in 1875 and stands at over 16 meters tall. It is considered one of the largest torii gates in Japan and is a popular spot for tourists to take pictures. At high tide, the O-torii appears to float in the water, adding to its majestic and otherworldly appearance.

Return to the Mainland

Returning from Miyajima Island to the mainland at dusk is a peaceful and contemplative experience. As the ferry glides across the calm waters of the bay, you'll have a chance to reflect on the day's adventures and take in the stunning views of the island. The setting sun casts a warm glow over the vermilion torii gate, illuminating the historic Itsukushima Shrine and surrounding landscape in a soft golden light. The fading sounds of the cicadas and the gentle lapping of the waves create a serene atmosphere that is both calming and invigorating.

As you approach the mainland, you'll see the city lights twinkling in the distance, marking the end of your island adventure. The contrast between the peaceful and natural surroundings of Miyajima and the bustling energy of the city is a reminder of the diverse and dynamic experiences that Japan has to offer.
In conclusion, Miyajima Island is a beautiful and unique destination that should not be missed while visiting Japan. With its historic shrines, scenic views, and delicious street food, it's a perfect blend of traditional and modern culture. Plan a trip to Miyajima and discover why it's one of Japan's most beloved tourist destinations.

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  1. What a beautiful part of western Japan. The tori gate is classic there - one of the three original copies left in Japan.

    1. I really loved this part of Japan. So tranquil and peaceful. Completely different from the big cities.

  2. What a beautiful island you had the privilege of visiting and now sharing with us. I love the shot of the red bridge over the river below Mersad. Thanks for hosting and I hope you have a wonderful week ahead.

    1. That's one of my favorites as well. Especially paired with the fall foliage.

  3. What a great trip! I've been loving this series of posts.

  4. What an exceptional place!

  5. ...this was an exciting trip and I thank you for taking me along.

    1. Thanks for coming along and visiting.

  6. Beautiful photos of this unique place. The deer are fun to see, and that torii gate looks amazing. What a great adventure.

  7. Your descriptions read like poetry, Mersad. A beautiful island in Japan and I can see that you enjoyed its peaceful surroundings, delicious food and special deer.

  8. Truly amazing place, Loved all photos. Have a great week ahead.

  9. What an exciting trip and photos. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Just beautiful - and the maple mochi! Gorgeous!

  11. So very beautiful. Love it. This the best trip.

  12. Beautiful photos! The Sika deers are very pretty. I have always wanted to visit Japan. They have many beautiful gardens too.

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