1-Day Miyajima Island Japan Itinerary

Miyajima is an island near Hiroshima famous for the giant floating torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine, which is ranked as one of Japan’s three best views. This Miyajima Island touring plan offers a step-by-step itinerary for seeing the giant torii at both low and high tide, the ropeway to Mt. Misen, temples, great food, and those devious deer around Miyajima as a day-trip from Hiroshima, Japan.

When it comes to visiting Miyajima Island, there’s a lot of good news. First, there’s a ton to great things to see, do, and eat. Second, the island’s main points of interest are in a relatively compact area and entirely walkable. Finally, it’s possible to experience the majority of the island’s highlights in a single day from Hiroshima if you leave early.

As a result of all this, Miyajima Island is one of our top destinations in all of Japan. In Our Top 10 Japan Experiences (So Far), we ranked Miyajima #3, and with Peace Memorial Park also on that list, that should be compelling reason to take the Shinkansen to Western Japan and plan at least a couple of nights in Hiroshima.

Since visiting Miyajima will take the entire day, we’d highly recommend arriving at the ferry dock (which is about ~5 minutes from Miyajimaguchi Station by foot, which is about 30 minutes from Hiroshima Station via the Sanyo Line) by around 8 a.m., once you’re off the boat and onto Miyajima Island, our itinerary begins…

Miyajima Coffee – Start your morning with a nice jolt of caffeine along with some exceptional pastries at Miyajima Coffee.

They also have a variety of specialty drinks and even heartier meals, but we’d recommend only a quick snack at this point to tide you over for the next ~4 hours.

Close Encounters of the Deer Kind – One of the underrated aspects of Miyajima–and a component of the experience we weren’t even prepared for–is the friendly deer throughout the island.

These are the same type of wild deer that have become semi-domesticated through human interactions that you’ll find in Nara, Japan. While there are far fewer deer around Itsukushima Shrine, there are still a lot, and they will approach you. This is a fun experience, especially if you don’t visit Nara. (Just be careful–they’re thieves!)

Itsukushima Shrine – This is Miyajima’s main draw, and the primary reason you’re visiting. Since there’s typically 6-7 hours between high tide and low tide, you can often walk under the torii at low tide and see it floating at high tide in the same day.

With a little luck, one of those times will be around when you arrive on Miyajima Island. For your first visit, focus solely on the torii, getting your photos and marveling at the great gate, but not allocating any time to the interior buildings of the shrine.

If you have multiple days in the Hiroshima area, we would highly recommend scheduling your visit to Miyajima Island around the tide tables to ensure you can experience both low and high tide. (We’d go as far as suggesting you should plan your entire trip to Japan around this, if necessary.)

Momijidani Park – With a name translating to “Maple Park,” Momijidani is a park stretching along Momijidani River in a valley at the base of Mount Misen that has over 200 maple trees.

This is a lovely little park, featuring a variety of walking trails and seasonal highlights. Those include cherry blossoms in spring, bright green leaves in summer, and fiery foliage in fall. Even if you’re not particularly keen on public parks, you’ll walk through this to get to Miyajima Ropeway Station (don’t bother with the shuttle).

Miyajima Ropeway Station – This gondola system advertises itself as being “like walking on air” and that’s not inaccurate. Miyajima Ropeway affords magnificent views of the Seto Inland Sea and Miyajima’s primeval forest during the ~10 minute ride to the top of the ropeway.

Note that the upper ropeway terminal is not the summit of Mt. Misen; that requires another ~30 minutes by foot. While you could skip the ropeway completely and hike all the way to the top of Mount Misen, that’s a bit too time-consuming for this itinerary. Instead, purchase a one-way ticket up the ropeway.

Mt. Misen Hike & Shishiiwa Observatory – Once you arrive at the top of the ropeway, you’ve got another ~30 minute hike along the clearly-marked walking trail. This a moderately-intense hike, with some portions being steep (but completely safe). It’s scenic and beautiful, with several subtemple buildings, including Misen Hondo and Reikado along the way.

Once you reach Shishiiwa Observatory, you’ll find a large rocky area to explore that offers a panoramic view of the island and outlying islands. There’s also a multi-story observatory, which has restrooms, snacks, etc.

Daisho-in Course Hike – There are three different hiking paths you can take to get back down to the main area of Miyajima: Momijidani Course, Daisho-in Course, and Omoto Course. You can read about the differences of each (albeit on the way up) on Miyajima’s official site. If you were to hike up, it’d take around 2 hours, but on the way down this can be as quick as 45 minutes.

In a nutshell, Daisho-in Course is the shortest option and has some nice views, including aerial views of the great floating torii; it also ends at Daisho-in Temple, which is convenient. If you’re starting the hike down before noon, consider doing the longer Omoto Course instead and doubling-back to Daisho-in Temple.

Daisho-in Temple – Overshadowed by its famous counterpart, we actually enjoyed Daisho-in Temple a lot. It had variety, detailed halls, and interesting statues. Oh, and it’s free.

With that said, the biggest draw is the natural landscape. This would probably be stunning year-round, but we visited during the heart of fall colors season, and it was one of the prettiest places we visited in Japan. I’m not sure to what extent our opinions were colored by this vibrance, but we thought this was an exceptional temple.

Kakiya Oyster Shop – This restaurant specializes in oysters, and absolutely does not disappoint. It’s the best oysters I’ve ever had, and some of the largest, too.

Kakiya does get busy during the lunch and dinner hours, but with this itinerary, you should be hitting it after the lunch rush. We recommend ordering their sampler set that features 5 different kinds of oysters (that’s not what’s pictured), plus some fried oysters…plus more, if you want. We ordered two sets plus the fried oyster plate and the two of us still wished we had ordered more.

Omotesando Street & Momiji Manju – If you’re stuffed at this point, do the next stop first, and then double-back to Omotesando Street, which is the main shopping, restaurant, and snack area. It’s really touristy, but it’s also features an incredibly high concentration of great street food and desserts.

The quintessential Miyajima snack is the Momiji Manjyu, which is a sweet bean paste pastry. This dessert is freshly-made at a number of shops in the area, and it’s fun to watch them being made through windows. The quality of Momiji Manjyu is pretty consistent from shop to shop (we comparison taste-tested for the sake of research). A variety of flavors are available, and we recommend trying as many as you can–seasonal and sweet bean varieties should be prioritized.

Hokoku Shrine – Frequently referred to as Senjokaku Hall, which is the name of the main hall that is the size of one thousand tatami mats. Senjokaku Hall dates to 1587 and is rather spartan. Adjacent to it on the same hillside overlooking  Itsukushima Shrine is a 5-story pagoda.

Senjokaku Hall is one of the few temple areas on Miyajima Island to charge admission and while the fee was nominal, I wouldn’t say you’re really missing out if you skip it. More time enjoying the sunset and rising tide at the great torii would not necessarily be a bad thing in place of Senjokaku Hall.

Itsukushima Shrine – Watching the tide come in just before sunset ranks as one of my all-time favorite travel memories from Japan. More than just timing a visit to Miyajima Island so you can see both low and high tide, I’d recommend timing a visit so you can see high tide occurring at sunset if at all possible.

From golden hour through sunset until nightfall, we sat in pretty much the same spot, legs hanging over a retaining wall as the ground below us went from totally dry to being submerged in several feet of water. We were in more or less the same spot for nearly 3 hours, and it was a perfect way to end the day on Miyajima Island. (Prior to that, we also headed inside Itsukushima Shrine and the nearby Treasure Hall; we’d highly recommend the former, and recommend skipping the latter.)

After that, we returned to Omotesando Street where we ate, drank, and perused the shops. After sunset, Miyajima quickly cleared of tourists, which made for a surprisingly serene setting, at least as compared to earlier in the day. We finally took one of the last ferries back off the island, and caught a train back to downtown Hiroshima. We had an incredibly satisfying day by following this itinerary that we’d created for ourselves, and hopefully it will assist you in having an equally enjoyable experience!

If you’re planning a visit to Hiroshima, Miyajima, and beyond, please check out my other posts about Japan. I also recommend the Lonely Planet Japan Guide to help plan.

Your Thoughts

Have you ever visited Miyajima Island? What do you think of it? Is visiting the great torii at low and high tide on your travel bucket list? Any questions or other comments about this Japan itinerary? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!

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11 replies
  1. Corene
    Corene says:

    I have just reread this post, checked the tide & sunset times, and am now rethinking my plan to wait to visit Miyajima until a fall trip. We will be in Japan in Sakura season & only have 2 days/1 night in Hiroshima. The only day that we could reasonably visit Miyajima is March 31, and it would mean leaving Kyoto VERY early in the morning to make your itinerary work. However, according to your link it is a neap tide, and the high tide is at 7:09pm. Sunset is at 6:30pm that evening, so we aren’t quite timing it to see high tide & sunset collide, but it’s a high-ish tide (40 minutes away from high tide) when sunset occurs. Do you think that would be close enough? We would stay to see the torii lit up after dark, and then return to Hiroshima (where we would have left our luggage in a locker at the station). We have that night in a hotel there, and would spend the next day doing the Peace Memorial Park, Dome, Museum… We would be taking the shinkansen that evening (by 5pm April 1st) to get to our hotel at TDR that night. It’s a pretty full on two days, but I’m starting to think this is the way to go. We can always go back to both the island & Hiroshima if/when we make a fall trip, but since we’re there in spring & it’s included in our JR Rail Pass, I think it’s a no brainer. I’m wondering why I ruled it out now. If you have any comments about this idea, I’d appreciate them, but I think unless you recommend otherwise, I’m going to move ahead with this plan. (Visiting Miyajima the day before – March 30th – would probably be more ideal from your description above, as high tide is 5:51pm and sunset is at 6:30pm, but that is very challenging for us, as Kyoto hotel reservations are using points, and there is no flexibility to make changes now given that it’s sakura season & Sheraton Miyako is fully booked up. If you think it would make an astoundingly huge difference to do it the 30th & think it could reasonably be done as a day trip from Kyoto, then please do say so. We could make up the lost day in Kyoto on the 31st before we headed to Hiroshima, but that is definitely lots of extra train travel…). Anyway, thanks for this post, it’s really given me food for thought! I appreciate all your efforts immensely – you have been my main source of info & suggestions for this trip to Japan! I did buy the Lonely Planet, but I prefer to read your posts; much more personal. Cheers!

    Reply
    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      Yes, that should be close enough on high tide.

      As for doing this all in a single day, it’s certainly ambitious. It sounds like you know what you’re getting yourself into and want to do it, though, so I’d just go for it.

      Reply
      • Corene
        Corene says:

        Yes, it’ll be a big couple of days, but really it’s just getting up really early in Kyoto & getting to Hiroshima early enough to make the most of the day in Miyajima. We have the hotel in Hiroshima that night & will do the main sights in Hiroshima on the following day, and we can sleep on the train from Hiroshima to Tokyo afterwards! I’m hoping to do a fall trip at some point in the future, but just in case, I hate to miss out on Miyajima when we are so close & the tide/sunset thing works. It’s the only time on this trip that I’m going to push my husband & teenage son to get up at the crack of dawn, so I think they’ll survive! Go for it we will! Thanks again!

        Reply
  2. Diana
    Diana says:

    I love your itineraries, they help a lot for planning our Japan trip in October.
    Especially the Kyoto itineraries are the best and most efficient I could find!
    Is there any chance you plan on writing a Kobe itinerary? We’re still unsure, if it is worth visiting.

    Reply
    • Tom Bricker
      Tom Bricker says:

      Kobe is one of the next itineraries to be written. It should absolutely be done before October.

      My one recommendation for *now* is to make a lunch reservation for Tor Road Steak Aoyama. You can do this in English via Facebook Messenger. You won’t regret it!

      Reply
  3. Jose Gonzalez
    Jose Gonzalez says:

    Definitely on the bucket list. Curious if this is where Disney got their idea for the shrine in the Japan pavilion in Epcot?

    Reply

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