Miyajima Island

By: Julie Ho

It’s already our second day in the Kansai region (area of Japan with major cities such as Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara) and we’ve already hit so many famous spots during our trip. Today we went to Miyajima Island to do some sightseeing because it has so many historical and nationally recognized monuments. I was super excited to go because it was my first time visiting there and it’s always been a goal of mine to visit the island.

We took the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Hiroshima and then got on a charter bus for a 45 minute drive to Miyajima Island. The trip to the island was breathtaking because the latter half of the ride was by the sea, and we got to see many ports and fishing towns along the coast. When we got nearer to the island, we had to transfer to a ferry since the island is accessible only by boat.

After a 15-minute boat ride and many photos later, we arrived on the island and set out for the infamous torii (traditional Japanese gate). Because the tide was low when we got to the torii, we were able to walk very close to it. The gate had such a large presence when I stood next to it, and it just amazed me how the islanders were able to build such a grand structure so long ago.

The island is also home to a lot of wild deer that wander the area, which while extremely adorable, is a somewhat terrifying experience if you have food in your hand. Don’t make the same mistake that I did and wave food in front of their faces, which lead to one deer following me for a good ten minutes.

Afterwards we went to Itsukushima Shrine where we explored the floating temple atop of the ocean. The shrine was surprisingly well kept and serene to walk through because of the open area and the ocean breeze blowing throughout the shrine. There were many things to do in the shrine such as making prayers, getting one fortune’s told, or buying souvenirs from the priests and priestesses.

After a short photo session by the creek with some of the girls, we headed back to the main area of the island where all the shops were to get lunch with the group. Getting back to the restaurant was somewhat of a battle because the alleyway was full of people trying to buy gifts and souvenirs from the colorful shops that lined the road, but it was a fun experience being part of the hustle and bustle. Yuni and I bought a curry bread on the way back to the restaurant (it didn’t spoil our appetite though), which had a Miyajima oyster in it and was a great snack before the main meal.

For lunch we had Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, which is similar to a savory pancake, but with noodles, vegetables, and meat. It was so delicious that I was tempted to order another one, but refrained from doing so in case I wanted to grab more food at the stalls outside.

After lunch, Yuni and I went around the stalls and bought beef buns and traditional Japanese sweets, both of which were super yummy and filling. Once we were done shopping for souvenirs, we met up with the rest of the group at the dock and took the ferry back to the mainland. I would definitely recommend this island as a stop on any trip to Japan because you get to experience something that you wouldn’t get to see in a big city like Tokyo.