Monday, 30 December 2013

Miyajima Island, Japan (October 2013)

Even though I loved all of the places I visited in Japan, Miyajima Island (also known as Itsukushima Island), was one of my favorite destinations due to its tranquillity and beautiful nature and views. It is located in the north of Hiroshima Bay and there are frequent ferry services from Miyajimaguchi to the island; the crossing only takes 10 mins and is free if you have a Japan Rail Pass. It's perfectly reasonable to visit for a day trip but there are a few traditional ryokan on the island so longer stays are also possible (but book in advance as they seem to be very popular). Miyajima is probably most famous for the Itsukushima shrine which is more commonly known as the "floating torii gate" as it is submerged in the sea. During low tide you can actually walk right up to the gate itself. 
There is one main village on the island which is lined with independent shops selling souvenirs and food. A big attraction are the tame deer walking through the streets which like to come up to tourists to check if there is any food they can steel! 
Another great thing to do is walk up Mount Misen which with 530 m is Miyajima's highest peak. You can cheat a little and take the ropeway  which will carry you within a 30 min walk from the top. The effort is totally worth it, there is a reason why the the views from Miyajima belong to Japan's top 3 most scenic sights.

Waiting to board the ferry....
Destination: Miyajima!!
Torii Gate and shrine from the distance
The village on Miyajima

The island is a popular excursion place for school kids
Finally the first deer...
You see them relaxing in the sun...
And some more relaxing....
They sometimes like to mingle with daily life....
Some are the adventurous type and climb stairs... 
But most of all they love to bother tourists...
And you get the odd one who wants to enter restaurants!


Floating Torii Gate

Give me food!

Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima Shrine, low tide is setting in

Daily village life...
Lots of little shops to get lost in

On the way to Mount Misen

Being lazy...but taking the ropeway provides great views

Stunning views...
But there is still a walk left to get to the top

Bizarre rock formations
And finally arrived on the top! 
Great place to take a break...
And enjoy the view!

You will always have some kind of company when walking down

Time for some shopping

Ready to go back to mainland Japan
Bye bye Miyajima!