Nestled in the Seto Inland Sea lies Miyajima, an idyllic island sanctuary that will transport you to another world. Nicknamed the “Island of the Gods,” Miyajima radiates an aura of tranquility and natural splendor. Miyajima is one of about 3,000 islands in the Setouchi region that stretches across 280 miles. The area called “Mediterranean of Japan” has a moderate climate that produces delicious olives, lemons, and peaches, and is renowned for its oysters. Miyajima island is a popular day trip from Hiroshima with easy and quick access via train and ferry. With its spiritual allure, enchanting forests, and wealth of activities, Miyajima beckons. Read on to discover why this UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-visit destination.
Rising 55 feet tall, the floating torii gate is Miyajima’s most famous landmark. Painted a vivid red-orange, it contrasts beautifully against the deep blue sea and green mountains behind it. During high tide, it creates the illusion of being suspended over the shimmering water, creating one of Japan’s most photographed scenes. But crowds also flock to the magical sight at low tides, when the gate majestically roots itself in the exposed seabed.
In the Shinto tradition, torii stand at the entrance to Shinto shrines demarcating the boundary between the sacred and mundane. Beyond the postcard-perfect view of the iconic gate lies the architecturally graceful Itsukushima Shrine. Dating back to the 6th century, Miyajima’s Itsukushima Shrine honors the Shinto Sea gods and goddesses. Built in a pier-like style, the architecture integrates seamlessly with the natural environment. At high tide, the shrine’s buildings appear to float over the water, with the Great “Romon” Gate reflected on the sea’s surface. The shrine has suffered damage from natural disasters over time, with the current buildings last reconstructed in the mid-1800s. Both the floating torii gate and shrine provide a window into Japan’s rich cultural heritage.
Beyond the island’s renowned sights, Miyajima offers many natural charms waiting to be explored. Lush primeval forests cover much of the island, populated by friendly deer and mischievous monkeys. Hike the Daisho-in Temple and Omoto Park trails on Mount Misen and soak in vistas of the Seto Inland Sea from the mountain’s peak. Other scenic hikes lead to tiny temples nestled in the woods. The island’s immaculate beaches are also perfect for relaxing strolls.
Miyajima has something for history buffs too, like the excellent Itsukushima Shrine Museum featuring historic artifacts. There’s also the centuries-old Daisho-in Temple and the Sengoku Period History Museum. Other cultural sites include ancient gardens, charming temples, traditional performances, and local craft shops selling wares like pearls and Momiji Manju cakes.
With its extraordinary shrines, enchanting forests, and wealth of activities, Miyajima truly encapsulates Japan’s beauty and heritage. As the tide shifts, witnessing the floating torii metamorphose never loses its magic. Miyajima exudes the power to transport you to another world of tranquility and timeless wonder. Whether you seek culture, hiking adventures, or just serenity, Miyajima makes the perfect getaway. Ask a Covington vacation advisor to start planning your trip to Japan to visit Japan’s Island of the Gods now!