I recently had the opportunity to visit Miyajima, an island less than an hour away from Hiroshima. It is known for its red tori gate standing free in the water. I came hoping to see the gate and find a little serenity on top of its modest mountain, Mount Misen.
To reach the island you have to take the ferry for a short ride across the water (¥180 each way). There are two ferry companies operating this route and they charge the same (one JR and one non-JR).
The photo above was taken from the ferry as we quickly approached the island. The ride is only about ten minutes so enjoy this fleeting view before it is gone!
As soon as I arrived I was swarmed by deer! They are extremely friendly and will pause to let you pet them while they attempt to eat whatever you are carrying.
I don’t know what preventative measures the island is taking to curb the deer population, but they are clearly not working.
Along the path to the tori gate is stall after stall of souvenirs, food, and a few arches and stone statues.
So much grilled meat! A pretty common sight.
Fish cake is also very popular throughout Japan. It’s basically fish paste all squished back together. Not too bad, not too good. This particular kind is in the iconic maple leaf shape.
You can’t go anywhere without seeing dango, the famous Japanese sweet made from rice flour. It is super chewy and has a subtle flavor. I could live without this choking hazard, but man do they like it here.
Curry buns are quite popular throughout Japan, but this has a local twist: oysters.
Another fish paste concoction, this time with the option to wrap it in bacon.
You add bacon to it and I’ll try it.
As a big ice cream fan, Japan is perfect for me because they eat it all year round. This is soft serve sweet potato, a somewhat common flavor.
You cannot leave Miyajima without this souvenir: momiji manju. It is a cake in the shape of a maple leaf traditionally stuffed with anko (red bean paste). You will lose office friends if you don’t bring back a box for your coworkers. (Ignore my dirty hands. I fell at some point. Walking is hard.)
Eventually you will reach the gate!
Everyone wants a photo.
Selfie stick optional.
But there are a lot of other beautiful things to see in Miyajima besides the famous gate.
A short stroll away from the crowds can bring you to your own private view of the popular sites.
Stroll even further and you can find cherry blossom paradise.
But you’re never too far away from a furry friend.
Miayajima even has a small mountain you can hike. The walk to the start of the trail is beautiful.
There are three trails you can hike or you can take the Japanese way and ride the cable car. You can read about the Momiji Dani trail I hiked here.
It is a very pretty hike and has a great view of the surrounding water once you reach the top.
These jizo statues are everywhere.
All three hikes are moderate and only take around two hours so if you have the time you should lace up and start stepping!
I ended my day sitting on a bench by the water in view of the gate, eating another oyster stuffed bread (this time with cheese-weird and good) and fighting off the deer that weren’t taking no for an answer. A nice relaxing day.