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Fukuyama and around


Miyajima island lies just off the coast from Hiroshima’a short ferry ride from the end of the streetcar line. The main reasons to go there are the solitude, the view and the Shrine of Itsukushima which is built on wooden piers over the water. The shrine’s torii (the huge T-shaped gate at the entrance to a Shinto shrine - above) is out at the head of a bay, its orange paint standing against the blue water has made this one of the most photographed places in Japan. The torii remains a beautiful, evocative site, most especially at sunset and during the high tide which submerges the lower half of the gates. The shrine was constructed hundreds of years ago when the island was considered holy and commoners could approach it only by boat. Today travelers often find lodging on Miyajima while visiting Hiroshima. They rarely leave the island without sampling the locally made crackers.

The entire island is in fact a consecrated shrine although the abundance of litter deposited by the crowds and droppings left by the tame deer (which are known to wander the streets of Miyajima Village) may leave you thinking otherwise. Many consider that the best views are to be had from within the cable car which runs 1.6 km traversing Momijidani-koen and to the top of Misensan mountain.

Only a small proportion (about 10%) of the island is inhabited with the rest left as virgin forest. There are walks to the top of Misensan which will afford the adventurous traveller excellent views back over the island while some good beaches offer an altogether more relaxed experience. Although much of Itsuku Shrine remains private, the 5 storey pagoda and Senjokaku Hall are open to the public and enthusiatic English speaking guides are generally on hand.

Although the island can be covered in a half-day trip from Hiroshima, a highly recommended (if not particularly cheap) way to experience it is to book into one of the excellent ryokan on the island for a night. This will provide the best chance to enjoy the surroundings in a much more peaceful and serene manner in an atmosphere without the crowds of the day.


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