Hi everyone, today is Moonday!
I have always wanted to share my travels with my friends, so this shall be my first ever blog post. March 2016 was my first time travelling solo, and my dream destination is JAPAN. I spent one week with my best friend’s family in Tokyo and another two weeks travelling around by myself. My first destination after Tokyo was Hiroshima/Miyajima. But in this post I’ll focus soley on my visit to Miyajima.
Most people researching about travelling to Japan would’ve came across JR pass by now. I would urge anyone on a tourist visa to Japan to purchase a JR pass if they are travelling around a lot. You’ll get super good deal with this. To put into perspective a 7 day pass will be cheaper than buying a return ticket on a shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto. Plus JR Ferry from Miyajima-guchi to Miyajima is free with JR Pass.
Local train departs Hiroshima to Miyajimaguchi station occasionally, you can find a time thats suits you on Hyperdia.com. From Miyajimagichi, it will take you less than 5 minutes to walk across the road to the port. The signs are very clear to follow, it will tell you to head this way if you are using JR Ferry or an opposite way if you are using other private company ferry. Furthermore JR Ferry from Miyajimaguchi to Miyajima departs every 15 minutes and it takes approximately 10 minutes to travel across. I got the ferry timetable from here. I use google translate on the schedule, which doesn’t translate really well, but I think you can decipher it. The time in blue box is peak time and the ferry route will be a bit different as it will get closer to the floating Torii gate. The captain/ferry operator will also play an audio that will give you brief information and the history of Miyajima in English, Chinese and Japanese.
Itsukushima Shrine (Deer + Shopping street)
When I arrived on Miyajima I was greeted with deers, many, many deers. Although the deers on Miyajima are more wild than those in Nara. You are actually not allow to feed the deer in Miyajima but gentle petting is welcome. It was really refreshing to see them doing their own thing and not bothering the tourists for food. There’s a map after you exited the port if you don’t like looking at the map on your phone. I was able to get wifi access on the island with NTT DoCoMo sim card. However, Miyajima was extremely easy to navigate and there are signs everywhere if you are lost. There are shopping streets if you want to take a small detour instead of doing a beach walk to Itsukushima Shrine. The streets will sell you food, wooden carving and many touristy items. I did a beach walk in the morning and a walk along the shops on my way back to Hiroshima in the evening.
After paying a small fee to enter Itsukushima Shrine, you can walk around and take pictures of the Torii Gate. However I will warn you that there will be a lot of tourists. At the ‘best’ spot to take the photograph of the Torii gate, you would have to line up for a bit. I waited around 5 minutes until I got a turn. However, if you’re quite creative, I am sure you can find a good spot to take a photo of the Torii gate. I would recommend looking at the tides before you visit if you want a photo of the Shrine floating above the sea. If you like looking at barnacles and taking photos of other tourist taking photos of each other directly under the Torii then I would recommend going at low tide. However, if you are visiting Miyajima for a whole day then you would probably get an opportunity to take photo of the famous gate floating and on sand. You can walk right up to the gate for a closer observation of the barnacles! (sorry! I mean the Torii gate)
My Japanese friend tells me when she was taking me to my first shrine visit in Tokyo, that it’s a good custom to wash your hands at the well (usually placed at the entrance of the shrine). However I feel a bit sad that most tourists don’t know of or follow this custom when they enter the shrine. So please wash your hand!
Daishoin Temple (+Hiking)
My favourite part about visiting Miyajima was hiking. Their are three hiking routes that you can choose, from shortest to longest course;
- Momiji Dani (2.5km)
- Daishoin (3km)
- Omoto (3.2km)
As mentioned before, there are signs everywhere on the island so it’s quite easy to find the route as long as you are in the area of where the path starts. I took the Daishoin hiking route which starts from behind Daishoin Temple. Once you get inside the temple you can follow the post that will point you toward the hiking course. I took this route because I read somewhere that there’s a rest spot for you to look out at Itsukushima Shrine and the sea. It was a really pretty sight on a sunny day. You’ll reach this spot around 30 – 45 minutes after you start the hike. I believe that it’s actually impossible to get lost on this hike as long as you stick to the route. There’s also signs throughout the route and you usually will run across other hikers every 5 minutes. I was a little bit scared to hike alone at first because there was a warning of venomous snake sightings along the hiking routes. But my fears kind of go away after how calming and peaceful the hike was.
It took me 3 hours to complete the hike because I am slow. I don’t have enough time to hike back so I took the cable car down. It’s best to plan ahead for the hike as it gets dangerous walking in the evening/night as there’s no lights along the hiking routes.
The cable car drops me off at the Momijidani Park (This is where the Momijidani Hike starts). It was a pleasant walk back to the pier to head back to Hiroshima. I rewarded myself with what I considered as ‘the best melon bread green tea ice cream sandwich in the world’ (I think it tastes good because I was tired). The melon bread, crispy and warm, was made fresh, together with home made green tea ice cream, it created the best combo.
Miyajima was one of the destination in Japan that I enjoyed myself the most. Next time I will visit again and stay overnight on the island. I look forward to coming back and completing a different course and experience the night light-up at Itsukushima Shrine. I personally have problem finding restaurant on Miyajima and ended up purchasing food on carts. Do you have the same problems or any tips? Please share your experience and favourite things to do in Miyajima in the comments below 🙂
p.s. If you are planning to visit Miyajima, I am happy to comment back and share what I know as well.
I am not sure if this post is helpful to anyone or not (I hope it is!). I mainly want to start writing a blog to improve my English and talk about my adventures, it was actually quite fun writing this! I am really sorry for bad photos, I took them with my phone. I am saving up for a DSLR right now so hopefully I’ll take better photo some day.
Thanks for reading! xx
See you on another moonday!