What to do in Hiroshima? When you think of Hiroshima the first thing that comes to mind is the atomic bombing. The bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945, and this event has changed the city once and for all. Logically, a large part of the tourist sights in the city refer to this black day in history. Our Hiroshima itinerary takes you to all these sights. But Hiroshima has more to offer.
Hiroshima is resurrected as a better version of itself. It has become a beautiful city and compared to other Japanese cities we had the impression it was slightly less crowded and thus more enjoyable to explore.
Be sure to do a side-trip to nearby Miyajima where you will also find lots of other attractions in addition to the iconic floating Torii gate.
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Hiroshima travel tips
What’s the best time to visit Hiroshima
Hiroshima can be visited all year round because, just like in Osaka and Kyoto, the weather is fairly moderate all year round. However, do not underestimate the temperature differences.
The hottest days in the summer are well above 30 degrees Celcius while in the winter the maximum temperature drops below 10 degrees Celcius.
Ideally, we would recommend you to visit Hiroshima during spring ( March-May) or fall ( October-November) to enjoy the most pleasant temperatures.
Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Hiroshima. The cherry blossoms brighten up the numerous parks across the city in spring. The result is even more amazing in Miyajima. It’s an unforgettable experience to witness the cherry blossoms in Japan.
Keep in mind that it’s also one of the busiest time to visit Hiroshima.
If you are in Hiroshima between the 3rd and the 5th of May, you should definitely visit the Hiroshima Flower festival. This annual festival is held on the Peace Boulevard and draws over a million people every year. Entrance is free.
June is still a good time to visit Hiroshima. Most days will be mostly sunny with temperatures somewhere between 20 and 26 degrees Celcius.
Although you will have many hours of sun there’re high chances of rain and it will become increasingly humid as the summer continues.
The rainy season really kicks in towards the end of June and brings hot and humid days. Most rain falls in July but even during the rainy season, it doesn’t rain every day.
It’s certainly possible to travel to Hiroshima if you can bare hot and humid temperatures.
The first days into August are still very wet but then the rainy season stops. Once the refreshing rains stop the temperatures reach their summer highs. August is the hottest month in Hiroshima and these hot temperatures usually last until mid-September.
June to mid-September is a good period to travel if you don’t mind the heat and want to avoid the crowds.
Fall is another great time to visit Hiroshima as near the end of October the beautiful fall foliage starts. Moreover, during the months of October and November, you will also enjoy pleasant temperatures and sunny days.
The autumn foliage attracts lots of tourists so keep in mind that it can get very crowded this time of the year.
Winter in Hiroshima means cold days with mostly sunny skies. Occasionally it may rain or even snow but with the proper warm clothing, it is perfectly possible to visit Hiroshima. Temperatures will seldom drop below the freezing point and even the little snow that falls usually doesn’t stick.
Not many tourists visit Hiroshima in the winter months making it an excellent choice for a peaceful trip.
Uncertain what to pack or what to wear? Have a look at our Japan Packing list.
How to get to Hiroshima
Hiroshima has two airports. Hiroshima’s largest airport, called Hiroshima airport, serves both domestic and international flights. Iwakuni Kintaikyo Airport is solely used for domestic flights, a majority of these are flights to/from Tokyo.
How to find cheap tickets to Hiroshima
If you want to score cheap flights to Hiroshima we advise you to have a look at Momondo and Skyscanner. Both are flight aggregators that compare several hundreds of booking sites and give you an overview of the best flights and the cheapest sites to book them.
Momondo and Skyscanner are both very good at finding good deals, of the two, Momondo is probably the one with the most intuitive user interface.
Those who are always on the lookout for the best deals should join the Dollar Flight Club. Joining is free and once you’ve joined you will get alerts in your mailbox whenever cheap flights, flights that are pricing 40% or more below their normal rates, have been found.
I recently joined the club and already saw some incredible deals. Joining is free and it can literally save you thousands of dollars.
Hiroshima airport is Hiroshima’s international airport and lies about 63km from Hiroshima. It also serves some domestic flights from other parts of Japan. It’s well connected to Hiroshima by limousine buses, trains, and taxis. You can also book a shared transfer or rent a car and drive yourself.
By limousine bus
Limousine buses run regularly in between Hiroshima Airport and the Hiroshima Bus Terminal, making a few other stops on their way. There are 2 different routes. One route goes from Hiroshima Airport to the Hiroshima Station Shinkansen Exit and the other one goes from Hiroshima Airport over Nakasuji Station ( Astramline) to the Hiroshima Bus Center.
A one-way ride costs 1.340 yen for adults and 670 yen for a child. The journey takes 50 minutes.
Tickets can be bought with coins or bills at the vending machine near the bus stop. In the nearby convenience store, you can buy a ticket with a credit card.
Holders of a Japan Rail Pass can save a few bucks by taking a bus to the JR Shiraichi station from where you can take the train to Hiroshima station. The bus ride takes about 15 minutes and costs 390 yen. (You can only pay cash.) The train ride takes an additional 50 minutes.
Here you can find the time table.
Since Hiroshima isn’t as busy as Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto you could also rent a car although you don’t really need it to see the sights in Hiroshima. All of them are within walking distance if you take a hotel near the peace park.
You can use Rental cars to find the cheapest fares.
If you aren’t renting a car, the most comfortable option of all would be a shared transfer. If you’re not looking forward to train, subway or bus rides in your first hours in Hiroshima you could book this service and your driver would be waiting for you in the arrivals hall of the airport.
Thanks to the super-fast Shinkansen trains Hiroshima is well-connected to most major cities in Japan.
From Tokyo to Hiroshima
It will take 5 hours to reach Hiroshima from Tokyo with a combination of the Hikara (or Kodama) and Sakura Shinkansen. The fare is 18.560 yen (18.040 without a reserved seat). Depending on the hour of the day you will need to switch trains in Okayama, Himeji or Shin-Osaka station.
It might be interesting to buy a Japan Rail Pass, a return trip between the two cities within 7 days is enough to earn back the cost of your pass.
You can find more information about the Japan Rail Pass in this article.
The Nozomi Shinkansen takes you directly from Tokyo to Hiroshima in only 4 hours but is slightly more expensive and is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. The fare for the Nozomi is 19.060 yen (18.040 without a reserved seat).
From Kyoto to Hiroshima
If you travel from Kyoto to Hiroshima, you will first need to take the Hikari or Kodama Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka station where you transfer to the Sakura Shinkansen to Hiroshima. You can use your Japan Rail Pass for both trains. The ride takes around 1h40 minutes and costs 11.090 yen. ( 10.570 without a reserved seat)
The Nozomi Shinkansen is a bit quicker ( this journey takes around 1hour 15 minutes ) but is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Holders of a JR Kansai Hiroshima pass or JR Sanyo Sanin Pass can also make use of the Nozomi trains. The normal fee for the Nozomi train is 11.410 yen or 10.570 without a reserved seat.
From Osaka to Hiroshima
Japan Rail Pass holders can use both the Sakura and Kodama Shinkansen that run in between Shin-Osaka station and Hiroshima station. Holders of a JR Kansai Hiroshima pass or JR Sanyo Sanin Pass can also make use of the Nozomi trains.
The fare for the first two trains is 10.230 yen (9.710 without seat reservation), they will take you to your destination in about 90 minutes. The Nozomi train is only slightly faster and costs 10.440 yen (9.710 without seat reservation).
How many days in Hiroshima
One day is enough to visit the highlights of Hiroshima. That makes Hiroshima a popular day trip from Kyoto or Osaka.
Although it is possible it would not be our first choice.
Based on our experience one day would make you rush through all the sights and it wouldn’t give you enough time to truly appreciate the exhibits in the museum and the beauty of the peace memorial park.
You also wouldn’t be able to visit nearby Miyajima which would be a shame. Miyajima may not directly ring a bell but likely you have already seen pictures of the iconic Torii gate that seems to float on the water. These pictures were taken in Miyajima which is located less than an hour by train from Hiroshima.
Miyajima is not only worth a visit for the Torii gate, more about that later on in this article.
For all these reasons our advice would be to reserve 2 days for Hiroshima and Miyajima together.
Hiroshima money saving tips
5 Day JR Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass
This regional area JR pass is exclusively available to foreign tourists. It offers 5 days of unlimited travel on JR trains in the Kansai region.
Popular tourist destinations in this region are Miyajima, Hiroshima, Himeji, Osaka (including Osaka Airport) and Kyoto.
In contrast to the Japan Rail Pass, the nationwide variant, holders of the Kansai Hiroshima Area Pass can ride the Nozomi Shinkansen for free. Free seat reservations are not included, this is a benefit that is available to holders of the Japan Rail Pass but it is not included in this local JR Pass. If you want to reserve seats you will have to pay the seat reservation fee. I’m not sure why they made it so complicated…
A nice benefit is that JR operates a ferry to Miyajima island. The use of this ferry is included in this pass (as well as in the Japan Rail Pass).
Lastly, JR operates some local buses in Kyoto as well as Hiroshima that are also included in the pass. The Hiroshima hop-on/hop-off buses are particularly useful to get to the different sights in the city.
The pass costs 13.500 yen when ordered in advance online. If bought in Japan the price is 14.500 yen.
More information about the pass on the JR West website
Visit Hiroshima Tourist Pass
This Hiroshima Tourist Pass is a good alternative for those who don’t have Japan Rail Pass and see no benefit in the Kansai Hiroshima area pass.
This pass is valid on the streetcars operated by Hiroshima Electric Railway and various local bus routes (including the JR operated hop-on/hop off sightseeing buses).
The pass comes in different versions. According to your needs, you can choose a pass valid in a small, middle or large region and you can opt to include the airport limousine bus. You can also choose the validity period which ranges from 2 to 4 days.
Included in the pass is a guidebook with discount coupons for sightseeing sights and restaurants.
You can purchase the pass at the next locations:
Hiroshima Airport, Hiroshima Station ( North and South Transportation/ Tourist Information ), Hiroshima Bus Center and the Hiroshima Miyajima-Guchi Tourist Information.
You can find more information about the different passes here.
How to get around in Hiroshima
If you have a JR pass, you can use the JR hop-on/hop-off sightseeing buses for free. There are three different routes (orange, yellow, green) you can choose from. The buses are perfect to discover the most popular sites in Hiroshima but they can also take you from the train station to your hotel and back.
When you arrive at the station, just drop in with the tourist office. They have route maps of the buses and will be able to explain to you which bus to take and which stop to get off to get to your hotel.
These are the prices for those who don’t have a JR Pass: A single ride on the hop-on/hop-off bus costs 200 yen, a day pass is 400 yen. (children below 12 get a 50% discount)
You could buy a visit Hiroshima Tourist Pass in the tourist offices if you want to use the hop-on/hop off buses and don’t have a JR pass.
Where to stay in Hiroshima
Here we share the best place to stay in Hiroshima.
We recommend you to choose a hotel in the center of Hiroshima within walking distance of the Peace Park. Here you will also find plenty of restaurants.
Premium comfortable hotels
ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima
The Ana Crowne Plaza lies perfectly to visit the most important attractions in Hiroshima such as the peace park, the peace museum, and the main shopping areas. The rooms are not too big but clean and fully equipped. Good breakfast with many choices
The staff also speak good English.
Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima
The Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima offers spacious comfortable rooms with good beds. The hotel is located in the city center within walking distance to the top things to do in Hiroshima. From your room, you will enjoy nice views on the skyline of Hiroshima.
Ask for a room on a high floor.
Hotel Sunroute Hiroshima
The Hotel Sunroute Hiroshima is ideally located near the center with great views over the river and the Peace Park. Small slightly dated rooms. Very friendly staff. You will also find lots of restaurants nearby. Overall good value for money.
Ask for a room with a view on the river.
The best things to do in Hiroshima
Here is an overview of the best-organized tours in Hiroshima. An organized tour saves you time and, moreover, the tour guide will enlighten you about the different sights you visit.
We partnered up with GetYourGuide and MagicalTrip for these activities.
GetYourGuide is a reliable platform where you can book thousands of tours anywhere in the world.
MagicalTrip is a Japanese company that specializes in small group experiences led by locals.
Both companies are very flexible and they offer free cancellation for most of the activities when your plans change.
We selected 4 excellent tours in Hiroshima just for you.
Enjoy a Full-Day Hiroshima City & Miyajima Island Guided Tour
In one day you will visit the most important sights in Hiroshima such as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and museum and Miyajima island.
This is the perfect tour if you are short on time but still want to experience the most important sights in Hiroshima and Miyajima.
Note that the famous torii gate at Miyajima will be under renovation from June 2019 until August 2020. During the renovation works, the torii gate will be covered up by scaffolding.
Discover Hiroshima as a local
One of the best ways to discover Hiroshima is by making a customized guided tour with a friendly local. The local guide will tailor the tour to your taste.
This tour is a great opportunity to ask insider tips about life in Hiroshima, the best places to eat in Hiroshima and much more.
Miyajima: Tea Ceremony and Calligraphy with Kimono
Enjoy a tea ceremony and calligraphy lesson in a kimono at the 300-year old temple of Miyajima, Hiroshima.
An unforgettable experience.
Miyajima lies about 23km from Hiroshima.
Join a Bar Hopping Food Tour
Wondering what to do in Hiroshima at night? Maybe a bar hopping tour might be something for you. Taste the delicious local food and drinks and find out where to find the best okonomiyaki ( Japanese pancake) in Hiroshima.
Perfect if you are interested in the nightlife, culture, and history of Hiroshima.
Read reviews and book: Bar Hopping Food Tour
If you are a car enthusiast we recommend you to start your day at the Mazda Museum. If you aren’t much into cars, head to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial in the morning.
Visit the Mazda Museum
The 90 minutes free tour shows you the Mazda assembly plant and museum where a short movie is shown about Mazda’s history.
Car-enthusiasts should definitely take a look at this free tour. You will not only learn more about the Mazda brand, but the tour also covers the engine technology and the vehicle manufacturing process. You will get a look at the assembly line and the tour stops with a preview of the future of the car market as Mazda sees it.
Reservations must be made beforehand. The English tour is at 10 am.
How to get there:
From Hiroshima train station. Take the Sanyo or Kure line to Itozaki and get off at Mukainada station. From here its a 5-minute walk to the Mazda office.
Be aware that express trains don’t stop at Mukainada station.
Take bus 11 or 13 at Hiroshima station and get off at Mukainada-eki mae.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The museum is located in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and is the heart of the Memorial site. The well-arranged museum brings all the stories about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima together.
It’s an interesting place to learn more about the events that lead to what happened that day and to see the devastation that the atomic bomb has caused. In the museum, you can read several touching stories about how the survivors had to rebuild their city and their lives
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
1-2 Nakajimacho, Naka Ward, Hiroshima,
March-July and September-November: 8.30am-6 pm
August: 8.30 am-7 pm (8 pm on August 5-6)
December-February: 8.30 am-7 pm
Last admission 30 minutes before closing time
Closed December 30 and 31
High school students: 100 Yen
Junior high students or younger children: free
65+ visitors: 100 Yen by showing their passport
How to get there:
With the hop on hop off bus: Take stop Peace Memorial Park (Heiwa-Kinen Koen).
By local bus: Take bus nr.24 and get off at Heiwa-Kinen Koen
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
From the museum, you can walk through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to the National Peace Memorial. The park is there to commemorate the more than 140.000 victims of the nuclear attack but it is also a beacon of hope for a future with world peace.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a large memorial park that covers more than 120,000 square meters. The majority of the park is located on the island in the ōta river. At the most-northern point, the island is connected with the mainland with the Aioi bridge.
This unusual T-shaped bridge was the actual target for the bomb was the Aioi bridge. It was chosen as the target because it was a clear landmark that was easily visible from the bomber.
Further north of the bridge used to be one of the busiest commercial and residential districts at the time of the bombing. 6.500 people were estimated to be living there.
The park was created in an area that was completely leveled and burned to the ground by the nuclear bomb. It was completed in April 1954 and is visited by more than one million people every year.
National Peace Memorial Hall
The National Peace Memorial Hall opened in 2002 and was built to mourn the victims of the atomic bomb.
Here you can find the names and the photographs of all the victims but also memories and stories of the atomic bomb survivors.
Memorial Cenotaph and the Flame of Peace
Almost right next to the National Peace Memorial Hall stands another famous monument, the Memorial Cenotaph. The long official name is the ‘Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace’.
The Cenotaph is strategically placed to frame the Peace Flame and the A-bomb dome.
The cenotaph contains the names of all the victims who died from the blast including those who died later from the radiation effects. The list already counts 290.000 names and new ones are added to the list every year.
The Peace Flame which can be seen as you stand in front of the cenotaph was lit in August 1964 and will keep burning until all nuclear weapons have been destroyed and the world is no longer threatened by another nuclear disaster.
Children’s Peace Monument
As you continue walking Northwards past the Peace Flame you will find the children’s Peace Monument. This monument was built to remember the thousands of child victims that suffered from the atomic bomb.
The statue was built with money derived from a fund-raising campaign organized by Japanese as well as international students. It was unveiled on 5 May 1958. On top of the statue, you will see Sadako Sasaki who is holding a paper folded wire crane above her head. This Japanese girl, who died of radiation-induced leukemia, wanted to create a thousand cranes on her dying bed. Japanese believe that if you create a thousand cranes, you are granted a wish. She believed that if she would fold 1000 cranes, she would be able to recover. She died before she folded 1000 cranes so her classmates wanted to finish her work.
This monument is the result of that and every day several thousand origami folded paper cranes are flaunting at this monument. This gives the monument the nickname the “Tower of a Thousand Cranes”.
Attentive visitors to the museum may notice an exhibit that states that Sadako Sasaki did finish her 1000 cranes before she died, even folding 300 extra. Obviously, her classmates must not have known at that time. In the other version of the story, Sadako Sasaki did not wish to get better but did wish for a world without nuclear weapons.
That’s why offering a paper folded crane to the monument symbolizes that you share the vision of Sadako Sasaki and hope that one day we will live in a world without nuclear weapons.
The Atomic Bomb Dome
The Atomic Bomb Dome, or A-bomb dome, is the only building that miraculously survived the destructive power of Little boy. The building was located almost directly where the bomb’s impact was the biggest but still, the majority of the building remained intact.
The original plans were to demolish the building but ultimately it was decided that it would remain preserved as a memorial.
Since 1996 it’s also recognized as a World Heritage Site.
We continue our way Northwards. Once we cross the wide avenue that runs next to the A-Bomb dome we leave the Peace Memorial park and enter Hiroshima’s Central Park. It’s more like a walking district that centralizes all sports infrastructures than it is a park.
Hiroshima Castle is at the far North-Eastern corner of the park. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the A-bomb dome.
The current castle is a replica of the original castle that was destroyed by the nuclear blast.
The castle is a five-story structure and holds a museum. This museum has two ‘dressing-up’ sections with costumes for adults to try on for photographs.
On the top level, you can go outside and walk around the building on a balcony from where you have a fantastic view.
There is a fee to visit the museum but you can explore the castle grounds for free. When you stroll around these grounds you will see a number of trees with markers. These markers indicate that they survived the bomb blast and they indicate how far away they are from the epicenter.
The castle is beautifully illuminated at night.
21-1 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima,
March- November: 9 am-6 pm
December-February: 9 am- 5 pm
Last admission 30 minutes before closing time
Closed December 30 and 31
Junior high students or younger children: 180 Yen
How to get there:
You could take the orange or lemon (yellow) routes of The Hiroshima Hop-on/Hop-off bus
From Hiroshima station: Take line 1,2 or 6 to the Kamiyacho-nishi or Kamiyacho-Higashi. From there it’s a 10-minute walk to the castle.
Stroll through Shukkeien Garden
Shukkeien garden is a 10-minute walk east of the castle. The garden was built in 1620 and is centered around a large pond. In 1940 they opened it to the public. Despite being destroyed by the Atomic bomb in 1945 the park reopened in 1951 and has been lovingly restored to its former glory.
Shukkeien means “shrunken scenery”. This name was given to the park as the garden is said to comprise many picturesque scenes created in miniature. The garden has several small bridges and ponds.
The easiest way to visit the park is to follow the long walking track which leads all the way around the park. Along the way, you will pass different teahouses. The highlight of the park is the Rainbow bridge, a perfect place to take photographs.
The Shukkeien garden is located next to the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum.
This Japanese scenery garden is extra cheerful during the cherry blossom season, it’s a great place to watch the sakura.
2-11 Kaminobori-cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima, 730-0014, Japan
October- March: 9 am-5 pm
April-September: 9 am- 6 pm
High school and University students: 150 Yen
Junior high students or younger children: 100 Yen
How to get there:
The Hop-on/Hop-off bus stops at the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum. It is the second stop on the yellow and orange route, the seventh stop on the green route.
From Hiroshima station take tram 1,2 or 6 to Hatchobori. Transfer there to tram 9 and get off at Shukkeien-mae.
Day trip from Hiroshima
Miyajima is a town located on Itsukushima island. Since 2005 the town is officially merged with Hatsukaichi but many people and most tourists still refer to the town as Miyajima.
The most popular day trip from Hiroshima goes to this town. Miyajima can be visited in a day or you can choose to spend the night.
A day trip from Hiroshima is sufficient to get an impression of Miyajima. However, if you plan on hiking Mt. Misen or want to see the Torii gate with both high and low tide you’re better of spending the night in Miyajima.
If you spend the night in Miyajima you will have the added benefit that you can visit the Torii gate before the crowds arrive or after the crowds have disappeared.
How to get to from Hiroshima to Miyajima
By train from Hiroshima
Miyajima lies about 40 minutes from Hiroshima and is easy to reach from Hiroshima station. Take the JR Sanyo line to Miyajimaguchi Station. From Miyajimaguchi Station, it’s a short walk to the ferry pier, from where ferries ( JR and Matsudai) depart regularly for Miyajima.
This is the best option if you have a Japan Rail Pass since the train and the JR ferry are included in your pass.
You can find the timetable of the JR ferry here.
By boat from Hiroshima
If you don’t have a Japan Rail Pass you could opt for a ferry that leaves from Hiroshima Peace Park to Motoyasu Pier in Miyajima.
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The ferry leaves every hour and the ride takes about 45 minutes and costs 2.000 yen one way and 3.600 yen return.
Note that the ferry may get canceled sometimes because of bad weather.
Where to stay in Miyajima
Below we list 2 hotels on Miyajima island and one hotel near the ferry pier on the mainland. This is an area called Miyajimaguchi.
We stayed in this latest hotel as hotels on Miyajima island tend to be quite expensive.
Since the ferry runs very frequently you don’t lose a lot of time by staying on the mainland and it can save you quite a few bucks.
Premium Comfortable hotel
This Ryokan offers simple Japanese-style rooms with tatami flooring, shoji doors, separate WC, separate deep short bath and separate sink areas. Your room has a typical Japanese low table and some comfy cushions. There’re no beds, futon mattresses are spread out each night. The staff is very helpful and friendly.
The chef offers an excellent Kaiseki dinner, this is a traditional set dinner.
This is definitely something you should try when you stay in a ryokan.
The Ryokan also has 2 beautiful open-air Onsen, an excellent place to relax after you have climbed Mt. Misen. You may even spot some deer while you bathe in the onsen.
This is an authentic, beautifully maintained, good quality Ryokan.
This ryokan lies on the island within walking distance from the ferry pier and has very helpful staff. The rooms are simple but very comfortable and spacious for Japanese standards, with tatami and comfortable futon. The location is very close to restaurants and there is a delicious oyster cart parked right out front.
A traditional Japanese hotel with great service.
Miyajima Coral Hotel
We stayed in the Miyajima Coral hotel which is a great alternative for a hotel on Miyajima island. The hotel is on the mainland right next to the ferry pier where you leave for Miyajima. We had a small slightly dated but comfortable room. The hotel has a laundromat. The included breakfast was OK.
This hotel is perfect if you want to stay near Miyajima and are looking for a more affordable alternative.
Things to do in Miyajima
Here we list what to do in Miyajima.
Meet the Miyajima Deer
Start your Miyajima itinerary by visiting the Miyajima Deer. Miyajima is home to more than 1200 Sika deer. They roam freely on the island. Those who also have been to Nara will certainly recognize these cute furry animals.
Feeding the deer is a popular activity in Nara, many stalls are selling deer snacks in the temple town, but in Miyajima it is no longer allowed to feed these four-legged companions. The residents started feeding them several years ago when their population had dramatically shrunk but since then the herd has grown and the residents claim that the hungry animals now create a nuisance as they flood the city’s streets looking for food or leftovers or basically anything that looks like food.
The deer used to be wild but these days they aren’t wild anymore but they aren’t domestic either. They aren’t scared of humans and will come begging for food. They have become totally dependent on the food that they got from the visitors and the residents so it seems a little cruel to ignore their begging. Many tourists ignore the prohibition and still feed them.
We didn’t bring any food and the deer just ignored us but we read reviews from people that said they had been stalked and harassed by hungry animals.
Admire the Itsukushima shrine
The Itsukushima shrine is the star of the island and the reason most people jump on the ferry to come here. It is one of the most iconic shrines in Japan and one of Japan’s most popular attractions. Miyajima also literally means shrine island, partly because of the iconic shrine, but also because the island has long been regarded as an Island of Gods. This explains the many other shrines and temples on the island.
The shrine is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and designated by the Japanese government as a national treasure.
The shrine complex consists of 2 beautiful main buildings and lots of other smaller buildings but the most photographed part of the shrine is without any doubt the Torii gate. The torii of Itsukushima stands in the sea because people used to approach the shrine via the sea. At high tide, the Torii appears to be floating on the water. At low tide, you can walk out along the beach to see it up close. The Torii is 16,8 m high and weighs around 60 tons.
The shrine and the torii gate are both illuminated from sunset until 11 pm.
Note: In June 2019 renovations are scheduled to start. During the renovations, the torii gate will be covered up by scaffolding. The renovations are expected to last a year and the torii gate is expected to be visible again as from August 2020.
The Torii gate of Hakone is a great alternative while this one is under renovation. You can see this torii gate during a Hakone day trip from Tokyo.
If you aren’t a hiker you can take the ropeway to the top.
A free shuttle bus runs every 20 minutes from the Momijidani Park entrance to the Miyajima Ropeway Momijidani station. (the base station) The Momijidani Park entrance is located in the street leading upwards right behind the Itsukushima Shrine.
You’re not obliged to take the free shuttle. You can also walk to the base station, but it’s a 16-minute uphill walk.
Here you can find more information about the rates and the time table.
Payments are only in cash
If you take the ropeway you still need to hike around 1km to get to the top. You can return by ropeway or hike down depending on how much time you have.
Make sure you carry food & water as there are no places to purchase these items at the top.
Stroll through Omotesando Street
On your way back to the ferry pier it’s worthwhile to deviate from the coastline and walk through Omotesando street instead.
This is Miyajima busiest shopping street and a great place to taste some of the local delicious street food. Miyajima is famous for its oysters, steamed buns which come in three different fillings ( Hiroshima beef, vegetables, and eel) and Momiji manju cakes with various fillings such as red bean, raisin, chocolate, cheese, custard and apple. All are finger-licking good!
Visit the Miyajima Public Aquarium
The Miyajima aquarium is a rather small aquarium with exhibits spread across 3 levels. Despite the fact that it is relatively small you can see a wide variety of animals ranging from sea cucumbers, turtles, sea horses to seals and scallop and jellyfish.
You should reserve approximately 2 hours to visit the aquarium. I wouldn’t head straight to the aquarium before you have seen other highlights like the Itsukushima shrine, the Daishō-in temple and Mt. Misen but if you still have time left at this point this is a good place to head to.
Make sure to watch the sea lion show and don’t miss the penguin’s encounter and feeding.
Note that you can only pay the entrance fee in cash.
Miyajima Public Aquarium
10-3 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima
9 am-5 pm
Elementary and Junior high school: 700 Yen
Young children: 400 Yen
Under 4 years: Free
It didn’t feel right to pass through Japan without standing still by one of the historic moments that has shaped the world that we currently live in. We thought the museum was really educational and the many catching stories gave us a good impression of the dramatic events that took place here.
Hiroshima and Miyajima are both touristy but not nearly as crowded as Kyoto, Tokyo or Osaka. It was nice to get away from the crowds and we appreciated this quietness. The green island of Itsukushima was also a welcome change from all the urban jungles that we had visited before.
Have you visited Hiroshima and Miyajima?
Japan travel tips
Tips when traveling to Japan:
Expenses abroad can be seriously inflated by fees from your bank or credit card. That’s why I’m a huge fan of my N26 account. The account is available to most EU residents. The checking account is free as well as the associated Mastercard and there’s no exchange rate provision when you use to card for payments abroad. There’s a 1,7% exchange rate provision when you withdraw money abroad but even that is free with the premium Black Mastercard.
The app is another great feature of the card, you can follow your expenses in real-time and instantly block your card if you see any signs of fraud.
A local SIM card comes in handy. We have often used Google Maps to find our way around major cities.
When you’re traveling by train it’s also a good idea to forward your baggage. You can read these tips and much more in our separate article about traveling to Japan for the first time.
We traveled around Japan by train and could save a few bucks by buying a Japan Rail Pass in advance.
Wondering what to wear in Japan? Take a look at our complete Japan packing list.
Last but not least… As you might expect health care in Japan is excellent but it comes at a high cost. Make sure you have some sort of insurance before you leave for Japan. We never had anything serious happen on any of our journeys around the world but you know what they say, better safe than sorry…
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