Miyajima Island – Japan’s treasure

Thursday 10th October

After the harsh reality of Hiroshima and its very serious message to the rest of the world, Miyajima Island is a breath of fresh air.

It is a short ride on a local train from Hiroshima to Miyajimaguchi Station and a very well signed walk to the JR Ferry to the island.

It is evident that Miyajima Island and it’s number one attraction is an important tourist destination, not only for international visitors, but also for Japanese tourists. The ferry actually passes the Itsukishima Shrine to provided breathtaking views and photo opportunities of the O-Torii Gate from the sea.

The bright orange appears to glow even in the misty morning light. The purpose of the bright orange is to keep evil spirits away, and on a more practical note, protect the wood from insects.

Fortunately we saw the shrine and gate at high tide, when they appear to float over the water. As we were leaving in late afternoon the tide had dropped to give us a view of the underside of the structures.

Much to the day trippers excitement, a wedding was taking place at the shrine, with bride and groom in beautiful ceremonial costumes. Although they appeared oblivious to the thousand cameras focused on them, the tourists (including me) managed to capture every smile the young couple could muster.

The island is also famous for O-Shakushi (world’s largest wooden rice scoop 7.7m x2.7m), its primeval forest on Mount Misen, the cheeky monkeys who stayed out of our sight and the wild deer who are happy to pose for the tourist photos.

We climbed through Momijidani Park to the ropeway, which is in fact the Momijidani Line (circulating ropeway) and the Shishiiwa Line (funicular ropeway) with hundreds of steps in between. From there we climbed Mount Misen, past spectacular viewing points, to visit the temple of Kobo Daishi, who lit a flame over 1,200 years ago. The hall in which the flame burns has been designated “Lover’s Sanctuary” as the flame is akin to the eternal fire of love.

Our final climb was to the top of Mt Misen, at 535m the highest point on the island. We had fantastic views over the many islands in the Seto Inland Sea.