Pictures of the floating world

Miyajima: 6 things to do and not to do

Explore the sacred island Miyajima with me!

By Anna Purpurpurpur

Let’s remember my trip to sacred island Miyajima surrounded by Hiroshima Bay once Japan is again among the countries you can visit after the pandemic!

This island holds a very special place in Japanese culture: it is considered sacred, no one is born here and no one dies here. And it also features one of the most iconic Japanese sights, so I suggest every traveller to pay it a visit. 

Itsukushima Miyajima guide Japan

Miyajima

Miyajima, a shrine island, also known as Itsukushima, is located a short train trip away form Hiroshima. To get to the island itself you have to take a ferry. Many tourists (just as ourselves) visit it only for a day and don’t stay overnight.

There are not only historical and natural wonders you ca enjoy here. When you walk the streets of Miyajima, you’re surrounded by food stalls with amazing mouthwatering street food. I’d suggest you to buy delicious fishcakes – even of you don’t like fish – there: sold pipping hot and on a stick! For me, it was the first time trying those, and it was love at a first bite! 

1.Walk under Great Torii

The great Torii and the floating Itsukushima shrine is one of the most easily recognisable landmarks of all Japan. In general, any torii gate is a symbol of interconnecting worlds: the humans’ one and the spirits’ one. And just think of it: this is probably the main Torii for the entire country! 

The first Torii on this site were constructed back in 1168 and got renewed from time to time to exactly the same structure. The current – 8th-  version of Great Torii is 133 yo. Torii are made of camphor tree famous for its anti-rotting properties. 

Itsukushima Miyajima guide Japan

Are you wondering why the shrine and the Torii are called ‘floating’? That’s all because of the water surrounding the island. Great Torii is located right in the Hiroshima Bay and it really looks as if it floats during the high tide! When the tide is low, it’s accessible by walk and you can go there and make a wish. ⠀

2.Visit Toyokuni Shrine 

Toyokuni Shrine is dedicated to one of Japan’s unifiers Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The largest building of the shrine complex is Senjokaku, or the hall of a 1000 tatami mats, because  – well – it’s big, and it was intended to be used as a library. It looks a bit bare: what you see is probably an incomplete version of the building as after the Hideyoshi’s death the construction of the hall was never finished. 

3…and admire Goju-no-to

The 27.6 metre high Five-storied Pagoda also known as Goju-no-to is a beautiful building dedicated to the Buddha of Medicine. It dates to 1407. It’s located close to the Itsukushima Shrine so you won’t miss it! Sadly you can’t enter it but you can observe its gorgeous carvings from the outside.  

4. Climb up Mount Misen

Mount Misen goes all the way up to over 500 metres above the sea level – and the views from the top on the Seto Inland Sea are just astounding! Some prefer to reach the highest peak of the island by foot (there are three hiking trails), others opt for the ropeway initially opened in 1959. 

We got to the observatory by the ropeway but you can also try hiking if you have plenty of time. Don’t miss the Misen’s seven wonders too: The Eternal Fire, The Holy Plum Tree, The Great Mandara Rock, The Dragon Fire Ceda, Kanman-iwa rock, The Dewy Cherry Tree, and Hyoshigi-no oto, or Sound of wooden clappers. 

5. Buy shamoji

Large flat spoon Shamoji, or the famous rice paddle which goes together with any rice cooker, was invented on this island! Legend says that a monk saw it in his dream. The original shamoji were made out of wood but the plastic ones gained popularity in recent years.

You can easily buy many variations of it in the local shops, big and small, with various signs on them. Why not to take it home as a nice souvenir for yourself or to gift your loved ones?

6. And do not feed deers!

Did you know that there are deers in Miyajima too? They are walking freely across the island too – just similarly as they do in Nara. However, please don’t feed them here!

Hope you liked my blog!
Yours,
Anna xxx

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