Miyajima Island And Japans Most Famous Torii Gate

Officially ranked as one of the three best spots to visit in Japan, Miyajima island and the massive torii gate is a must-see on your visit to this region of Japan.

Located just about an hour away from Hiroshima, Miyajima is an island that is home to one of the best tourist spots in the entire country for visiting the shrine and seeing the famous torii gate. This torii gate is so famous because during high tide the structure appears to be floating on the water. 

Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima best known for its “floating” torii gate.

In fact, the shrine here is so famous that it has even influenced the place name. Although the official location name is Itsukushima, many people refer to it as “Miyajima”, meaning shrine island.

The main shrine on the island is called Itsukushima also appears to float delicately on the water when it is high tide.

Torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine

Although you may be tempted just to visit Miyajima island for a day it is a great idea to book an overnight stay as this is when the hustle and bustle of daily activity calm down and you can truly take in the relaxing atmosphere of the island. There are also wild deer that often make an appearance during dusk.

So, if you are looking to visit one of the three best sight-seeing spots in all of Japan then keep on reading to find out more information.

Itsukushima shrine

No trip to Miyajima island would be completed without a visit to its famous shrine, so well-known in fact that the island has been nicknamed after it.

This shrine has been standing for many centuries and over the years it has grown increasingly popular with tourists from all around the world who want to get a glimpse of the floating torii gate and the accompanying shrine.

Itsukushima Shrine

This unique feature of both the torii gate and the shrine, the fact that they are constructed over water, makes them an incredible location to witness whether you are visiting for religious reasons, simply as a tourist, or even as a photographer. The appearance of the floating shrine during high tide is an amazing shrine to explore. 

The shrine itself is made up of several buildings including a main hall, a prayer hall, and a theater stage. The shrine is tucked away in an inlet area on the sea while the torii gate is constructed further out in the water.

Itsukushima Shrine Official Website

Mount Misen

If you are looking to find a spectacular view of the island then look no further than a trip up Mount Misen. This mountain is home to the highest point on Miyajima island and is over 1700 feet above sea level.

In fact, if you reach the summit of Mount Misen and you happen to be lucky enough to experience a clear day then you can even see as far as Hiroshima.

Mount Misen ropeway allows visitors to visit the top of Mount Misen at 1755 feet altitude

If you are feeling adventurous then there are three separate hiking trails that you can follow to lead you up the mountain and these are called: Momijidani, Daisho-in, and Omoto.

If you are looking to go for an easy hike and get the best views possible then opt for the Daisho-in trail. For all of the trails, the average walking time is nearly 2 hours.

If you are not able to hike the entire way up Mount Misen then you can also use the cable car ropeway, but keep in mind that you will also still need to walk some distance. The very peak of Mount Misen is around half a mile from the top point of the cable cars station. 

Shishiiiwa ropeway station located on Mount Misen

Mount Misan Ropeway Official Website

Along the way, you may also spot local wildlife such as deer and, if you are lucky, wild monkeys. However, most of the monkeys were removed from the island due to problems with overpopulation. 

Daisho-in temple

If you have already taken in everything that the floating shrine has to offer and want to continue to appreciate this cultural side of the island then head for Daisho-in temple which can be found at the base of Mount Misen.

This temple is one of the most important places in Shingon Buddhism and was founded by one of the first Buddhists on the island, Kobo Daishi.

Miyajima. Daisho-in Temple Kannon-do Hall is home to the Goddess of Compassion

Just like the floating shrine, the Daisho-in temple is made up of several buildings, statues, and other points of interest that are located within the temple grounds. The Kannon main hall, a sand mandala, and a cave full of 88 different icons are all sights to take in at this temple.

One interesting point for both Buddhists and tourists alike is the staircase outside the temple. All the way up the stairs are spinning metal wheels that have Buddhist inscriptions inscribed into them.

 Rows of prayer wheels

It is said that simply turning these wheels is the same as reciting the words written on them. So, you can benefit from the words even though you may have no idea what they mean. 

Daisho-In Temple Mount Misen Official Website

Walking trails

The island of Miyajima is simply beautiful, especially in fall when all of the autumn colors of the trees come to life. There are walking trails located the entire way around the island and so you can get a true feel for the island.

Some of the walking trails will pass by the sea, some through the forests, and some even up the mountain. So, you can hike for hours exploring the area.

Mount Misen Walking Trail Signage

There are beautiful routes through maple trees in the autumn and past cherry blossom trees in the spring so that no matter the season in which you are visiting you are sure to be in for an amazing experience.

Along the way, it is likely that you will spot many deer that inhabit the island and who walk around freely. These deer are not too shy and can even be found wandering about during the day when the island is filled with tourists.

Additonal Attractions Of Miyajima

Miyajima Museum of History and Folklore

The Miyajima History and Folklore Museum educate visitors about Miyajima’s history, with an emphasis on the Edo era (1603-1868). The museum is set around a beautiful garden and is constructed in a typical 1800s Japanese home. There are numerous intriguing artifacts on exhibit that connect to the island’s history.

Official Website Miyajima Museum

Omotesando Shopping Street

Omotesando Shotengai on Miyajima is an 1148-foot-long souvenir and gourmet snack shopping street lined with approximately 70 shops and cafés to visit while on the island.

Omotesando Shopping Street Via Tripadvisor

Miyajima Aquarium

Finless porpoises, sea otters, Steller sea lions, sea lions, and penguins are among the 350 species of aquatic mammals at the Miyajima Aquarium.

Miyajima Aqurium Official Website

Senjokaku Hall

Senjokaku Hall is a massive, unfinished 16th-century wooden structure, literally meaning “1000 tatami mat pavilion. The minimalist hall, with a myriad of artwork, has a distinct mood. A stunning red 5-story pagoda, located near the hall, is a spectacular sight.

Miyajima Tourist Assoc (Senjokaku Hall) Website

Final Thoughts On Exploring Miyajima Island

If you are planning a trip to Japan anytime soon then you will certainly want to see all of the best sights and attractions that the country has to offer and a good one not to miss is definitely Miyajima island and the famous floating torii gate. Although this temple is a sight to behold and makes for a great picture its location is equally as interesting.

 Entrance ticket for Itsukushima shrine miyajima island 

The island of Miyajima is home to many other places of interest such as other temples, local flora and fauna, and even Mount Misen which, if you are feeling up to the challenge, will provide you with your daily workout and some of the best views around.

From the very top, if you are lucky enough, you can even see Hiroshima. Remember that even with the cable car you will still need to be capable of walking a short distance to the very top.

Floating Tori gate seen from Miyajima island

Even if you are simply looking for a relaxing addition to your visit to Japan then consider adding a visit to Miyajima island as the island is beautiful to wander around in all seasons. The various walking trails, with varying levels of difficulty, make the island a pleasure to take in in all its glory no matter the weather. You may even spot a deer or two along the way.

Miyajima Island Sights And Attractions Via Tripadvisor

So, although you may be tempted to simply visit the island for a day it is recommended that you stay overnight to truly get an appreciation for everything that the island has to offer without missing any of the amazing attractions.

Virtual Tour Of Miyajima Island

My fascination with Japan began several years back at a roadside bonsai stand while on vacation. I became more interested in the where and why's more than the trees themselves. My love of Bonsai led me to further research my interest in the gardens where they originated from and the places and people that surrounded those little trees. My curiosity was well rewarded upon visiting Saitama where the National Bonsai Museum was located and Omiya Village the bonsai mecca for lovers of this ancient art form. Exploring many towns and villages and even making my way to Japan's furthest southern prefecture of Okinawa. I hope to share my love of this wonderful and exotic place with all those who want to know more about Japan.