Miyajima Island is a great day-trip destination from Hiroshima. The tame deer and breathtaking floating gates of Daisho-in Shrine greet you as you enter the island.
The island is only about 30-45 minutes away from Hiroshima by train and boat. Although it was a weekday, the train headed over to Miyajima was filled with obon vacationers and provided a nice contrast to the dreary black and white salaryman uniforms we saw in Shin-Osaka station yesterday morning. The island itself is famous for the tame deer that walk around as well as retaining a classical Edo-era Japanese look unlike many other Japanese cities that have become concrete jungles.
See & Do:
- Itsukushima Shrine: A UNESCO World Heritage site that is famous for the Torii gate that appears to be floating in the water during high-tide. During low-tide, it’s possible to walk through the wet sand and get up close and personal with it. Rating: 5/5
- Daisho-in Temple: This temple is a bit off the beaten path, and that’s what makes it a perfect getaway from all the huge crowds for some peace and quiet. If you look carefully, there are 500 Buddhas scattered around the grounds, each with its own unique facial expression (including Doraemon and Anpanman faces!). There is a cave with about 40 statues of deities placed down there, and what I found fascinating was that someone placed a 100 yen coin in front of each one of them. An unscrupulous person would have access to almost 4000 yen ($40) since the cave is fairly isolated–yet, since it’s Japan, the money was completely untouched. Rating: 5/5
- Mt. Misen: This 530m tall mountain has one of Japan’s three best views. There are two ways to get up here–hiking and taking a cable car up. While M and I are avid hikers, we had to take the ropeway up due to the intense 100F degree heat and sun blaring down on us. We weren’t the only ones who made that decision as there was quite a line to go up, but in spite of all that the 3rd best view in Japan was breathtaking. There are also allegedly monkeys near the top though we did not spot any (they were probably sleeping in the cool shade somewhere since they have more sense than we do). We have vowed to come back one of these days during better weather and make the hike up to the top. Cable car round-trip ticket costs￥1,800 per person. Rating: 5/5
Eat & Drink:
- Grilled Oysters (Yaki Kaki): The area around the ferry on Miyajima island contains what could be best described as a “downtown” area where there are plenty of restaurants, shops, and street vendors. Grilled oyster stands are all over the place, many with convenient indoor areas to eat. Condiments such as ponzu sauce(soy sauce + local citrus fruit juice), hot pepper and lemon juice are provided on site.￥600 for two of these. Rating: 5/5
- Oyster over rice (Kaki Don): Steamed oysters mixed with lightly cooked eggs over a bed of rice. Oysters on the island are extremely fresh. This is a must-have when visiting Miyajima. ￥950 per set. Rating: 4/5
- Momiji manju: Manju is a typical Japanese sweet made of flour with some kind of filling on the inside–usually red bean paste, though in this case we tried out custard. What makes it special to Miyajima is that it’s maple leaf shaped (O Canada). Rating: 4/5
- Age momiji: Fried momiji manju. Deep frying makes everything taste better. Enough said. Rating: 5/5
- Miyajima Beer: Quality pale ale that is not too hoppy as is the trend with craft beers these days. Rating: 5/5
- Dinner at Toyo and Taso’s: Toyo made us cold somen with ponzu dipping sauce, okura with mayo(the Japanese seem to love their mayo), edamame and kochi & bonito sashimi. Rating: 5/5
- AirBNB with Toyo and Taso: We decided to spend the night with a local couple that we found on AirBNB rather than book a hotel. We were a bit apprehensive about staying with other people since we’re used to spending the night alone. This was our first experience with AirBNB, and fortunately it turned out to be excellent–great food and great conversation with plenty of drinks until late into the night. We learned so many things about the city and local area that we would not have otherwise. We paid $247 for two nights. Rating: 4/5