Even though this is about a Japan trip I did more than a year ago, I’ve had quite a few people asking me about where to go and what to do in Japan, so I thought I might as well do a post about it, even if it is a bit outdated.
Miyajima island is just off the coast of Hiroshima, and is easily accessible with a JR pass. From Shin-Osaka station, we took a shinkansen to Hiroshima, then hopped on a local train to Miyajimaguchi station, which is closest train station to the island. At the station, there was plenty of signage to direct tourists to the wharf, where Japan Rail operates a Miyajima ferry to take people to and from the island.
The first thing we noticed when we got off the ferry was the number of deer walking around the island. They weren’t wary of humans at all and mostly kept to themselves, though look out for the daring ones who will try to steal your food!
We timed our visit to coincide with high tide so that torii gate looks like it’s floating. At low tide, you can actually walk all the way out to the gate itself.
We also went into the Itsukushima shrine surrounding the gate, which is a maze of boardwalks connecting separate buildings and halls.
The whole structure is also built on the water, supported by large pillars. If you visit when the tide is at the highest, it looks like the shrine is also floating on the water.
Around the rest of the island, there are lots of souvenir shops and food stalls for when you’re feeling peckish. Two foods that Miyajima is well known for is momiji manju (a maple shaped cake with filling, usually red bean) and Miyajima oysters. We came across a stall grilling and shucking huge fresh oysters and we had to get some for ourselves.
These plump specimens were grilled with the shell on so that the oyster steams in its own brine, before being shucked and grilled a little longer. They were served without any garnish at all, though there was ponzu sauce that could be added.
After visiting Miyajima, we caught the ferry back to the train station and hopped on a local train back to Hiroshima. Getting around Hiroshima is super easy with the Maple Loop sightseeing bus. You can hop on and off this bus with a valid JR pass (or you can purchase a day pass for 400 yen) and it stops at the popular tourist attractions in Hiroshima.
We stopped outside the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to visit the museum. The museum costs only 50 yen for entry, and takes you through a timeline of events – what Hiroshima was like before the bomb, nuclear bomb development, the decision to bomb Hiroshima, and the aftermath and impact of the bomb on the citizens of Hiroshima.
We’re not huge museum-goers but the story and exhibits of the Peach Memorial museum were truly captivating and brought up a lot of emotions, and we ended up spending the whole afternoon there.
Afterwards, we walked through the park, past the Memorial Cenotaph and the Children’s Peace Monument where there were hundreds of paper cranes placed nearby. At the far end of the park was the A-bomb dome, the frame of a building that remained standing after the bomb detonated, and still remains there today.
I’d seen pictures of the dome before but when you’re there, it really strikes you as how amazing it is that the structure is still there. You can also see the extent to the damage done to the outside of the building as well, with some of concrete and brick parts of the building being destroyed until only the metal frame is left. It only makes you think more about how destructive the bomb was to Hiroshima and its people, and how the effects of the bomb are still impacting the city to this day.
Since we ended up spending so much time at the Peace Memorial Museum and Park, we don’t get time to see any more of Hiroshima but I would highly recommend going to the Peace Memorial Museum if you get a chance.
1-1 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi
Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan
Open 6.30am to 6pm daily
Peace Memorial Park and Museum
1-2 Nakajimacho, Naka Ward, Hiroshima
Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan
Museum open daily from 8.30am to 5pm (open later during summer months)
Closed between 29 December to 1 January.