Miyajima is one of those Japanese destinations, like Koyasan, or Kyoto, that while well-known, popular, and peopled with many other tourists, leaves the visitor with a sense of having enjoyed something special, a future of nostalgic reminiscences, and at least a dozen photos of deer.
A small island off the coast from Hiroshima, Miyajima is world famous for its ‘floating gate’, a 16 metre, 60 tonne, wooden torii gate that serves as the entrance to Itsukushima Shrine, a beautiful, half-aquatic structure in itself.
Depending on luck, the tides, and how long they’re willing to wait, visitors will either see the gate ‘float’ or walk out across the mudflats to touch its barnacled surface.
Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage site, also rests half out into the sea. Entrance is 300 yen an adult, to wander along the weathered, wooden board walks or stand on the front stage, and gaze out over the ocean. In early June, during the Kangensai festival, boats carrying lanterns sail into its precincts.
Away from the sea, Miyajima offers other lovely views and experiences, from hiking Mt Misen and trying its famous manju cakes, to photographing and/or dodging curious deer. There is a lot of beauty on this island however, what I suspect most will remember best will be the imprint of red against blue; salty air and shrine incense; and appreciation for this ambitious, ancient feat of engineering.