Ever since I started researching the best places to visit in Japan, Miyajima Island with its floating red torii gate caught my eye and I was so grateful that we could easily visit the island by train and ferry from Hiroshima.
We left Hiroshima early at around 8 a.m., but not early enough to get to the island to escape the crowds! Once we arrived, we learned that many people come early in the morning or later in the evening when the tide is low and they can walk through the gate for good luck. In my opinion, seeing the torii gate float in the water was the best part!
The first thing we did was, of course, to visit the big stilted Shinto Shrine, which is the biggest attraction on the island. It was very nice walking through the red painted buildings and walkways that seemed to float over the water.
Afterwards, we decided to take the gondola with ‘world heritage views’ up onto the island’s Mount Misen and to walk down from the top. The views from the gondola and the mountain really were stunning – it resembled a Mediterranean landscape with blue waters and lots of small islands on the horizon.
When we arrived close to the peak, we were lucky as there was a Buddhist ceremony taking place and we were able to sit down for almost an hour to take part in it. Walking down the mountain took us at least 1.5 if not two hours and it was tiring, but the viewpoints along the way made it rewarding! (My legs were still aching for two days after our hike… but then, I never hike!) Like in most places in Asia, if you hike up or down the mountain, you won’t meet many people, so it was very peaceful and not crowded with tourists. On the bottom, we rested at a little Udon restaurant nearby another huge, and even more beautiful and less crowded temple. Tired but happy, we walked back through the little traditional Japanese alleys and along a small river towards the ferry to take us back to Hiroshima.
On the ferry, we saw the sun setting behind the mountainous islands and felt so grateful for our time on Miyajima Island.