Visiting Itsukushima Island in Japan
Updated: Sep 19
Japan is known for its rich culture and traditions that have been preserved through the centuries. One such marvel of traditional Japanese architecture is Itsukushima Island. Located in Hiroshima prefecture, this Island is home to the famous Itsukushima Shrine which is one of the most photographed shrines in the world. The most unique aspect of this shrine is that it is built on stilts and appears floating on water during high tide. With such uniqueness, Itsukushima Island is becoming a popular tourist destination in Japan. Here's a guide for you should you plan to visit Itsukushima Island.
Getting to the Island
To go to Itsukushima Island, you need to first go to Miyajima-guchi which is two stops away from Hiroshima. You can take the JR Sanyo Line or tram line from Hiroshima station to Miyajima-guchi. Once you are in Miyajima-guchi, purchase the ferry ticket and go to the Miyajima Island. From Miyajima Island, you can take a ten-minute walk to Itsukushima Island.
Where to Stay
During our visit, we stayed at the Miyajima Coral Hotel, a budget-friendly option that boasts an ideal location. Situated just a stone's throw away from the ferry terminal, it is incredibly convenient for traveling to and from the mainland. The hotel delivers a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere with all the necessary amenities. Most notably, it offers captivating views of the Seto Inland Sea, providing a serene environment to unwind after a day of sightseeing. Whether you're a solo traveler or with a family, the Miyajima Coral Hotel is a commendable choice for your stay while visiting Itsukushima Island.
If you want more traditional accommodation, stay overnight in one of the traditional Japanese inns known as Ryokan. Ryokans offer traditional Japanese-style rooms and hot springs baths which is a great way to experience Japanese traditions and customs. A few Ryokans to consider are Iwaso, Miyajima Seaside Hotel, and Momiji-so.
Visiting the Itsukushima Shrine
Itsukushima Island is known for the Itsukushima Shrine which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1996. Itsukushima Shrine is known for its torii gate that appears floating on water during high tide. It’s a beautiful sight to see the torii gate reflecting on the water. However, make sure to check the tide schedule before visiting the shrine to ensure that you don't miss the chance to see it as it appears floating on water.
Exploring the Island
Itsukushima Island is a small island, but it offers a lot to tourists. You can take a walk around the island to visit some of the temples and to see the traditional Japanese architecture. Here are just a few things you can check out on the island:
Hiking Mt. Misen: Ascend this highest peak of the island for a panoramic view of the Seto Inland Sea and its surroundings.
Omotesando Shopping Street: Immerse yourself in Japanese culture by browsing through the local shops offering a variety of goods from traditional crafts to food items.
Miyajima History and Folklore Museum: Get a glimpse of the island's past and its customs.
Miyajima Aquarium: A family-friendly spot to explore, featuring diverse marine life from the Seto Inland Sea.
Interacting with the Deer
One of the most delightful experiences you can have on Itsukushima Island is mingling with the friendly population of wild deer that freely roam around. Often referred to as 'messengers of the gods' in Shinto religion, these deer have become a symbolic presence on the island and are used to human interaction.
After feeding the deer with "deer crackers," they became more interested and followed me around, hoping for more treats. It's important to remember that while these deer are friendly and accustomed to human presence, they are still wild animals. Visitors are urged to interact with them responsibly, refraining from feeding them anything other than food designated for the deers. This is to ensure the deer's health and the sustainability of their natural habitat on Itsukushima Island.
Trying the Local Food
Save some space in your belly to try the local delicacies that are a part of the cuisine of Hiroshima prefecture. You can try the Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki which is a Japanese savory pancake made with noodles, vegetables, and meat. Also, Hiroshima-style oysters are a must-try as this region is famous for them. There are also many small food stalls selling other mouth-watering delicacies that you can try.
The hotel where we stayed offered a set meal featuring local delicacies. The meal highlights the region's renowned food and uses local ingredients. The set meal was well presented, allowing us to taste a variety of dishes and gain a better understanding of the region's culinary landscape. The hotel staff took great pride in explaining the origins and preparation of each dish, further enriching our dining experience. If you choose to stay at the Miyajima Coral Hotel, don't miss out on this excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in local flavors.
Itsukushima Island is a must-visit destination in Japan for those who want to experience the charm of traditional Japanese architecture and culture. Make sure to plan your visit accordingly, check the tide schedule, and try the local cuisine. Exploring the island on foot is the best way to enjoy its beauty. Lastly, make sure to stay overnight in a Ryokan to experience the authentic Japanese tradition and hospitality. A trip to Itsukushima Island will undoubtedly create a lifelong experience in your memory.