How to do a day trip from Osaka to Miyajima (Itsukushima) and Hiroshima
This Osaka to Miyajima day trip guide will show you everything you need to know to travel to the floating shrine and Hiroshima in a day.
One of the most iconic sights in Japan is the orange-red floating shrine (torii gate) called Itsukushima Shrine.
You may have seen this floating shrine referenced in anime, movies, TV shows and postcards.
Miyajima Island, which translate to “Shrine Island”, is named after the Shinto shrine (Itsukushima Shrine 厳島神社) on the island. It has been a sacred site since the ancient times even though the shrine building was built later on.
Although famous for the floating torii gate, Miyajima Island is also the home of other shrines, temples, beautiful nature, walking trails (with deer), and Mount Misen.
Keep in mind that tourists are now charged 100 Yen (Less than $1 USD) to access Miyajima Island. If you plan to do multiple trips to Miyajima, you can pay for the 500 Yen (about $3.5 USD) pass valid for one year.
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Where is Miyajima?
Miyajima Island is an island located in the Hiroshima Bay, on the west side of Japan’s largest island Honshu.
It is about 30-45 minutes from Hiroshima, making it one of the most popular day trips from Hiroshima.
You can also easily travel from Osaka to Miyajima via Hiroshima as a day trip.
Can you go to Miyajima from Osaka as a day trip?
Although most people usually visit Miyajima as a day trip from Hiroshima, but it is totally possible to visit Miyajima from Osaka as a day trip.
Since Osaka is located much further away than Hiroshima, a day trip from Osaka to Miyajima is going to be a pretty long day.
It takes about 2.5 hours minimum to travel from Osaka to Miyajima assuming you know your train schedule and ferry schedule and you do not get lost along the way.
How to get to Miyajima Island from Osaka?
When you travel from Osaka to Miyajima, you have to go through Hiroshima first.
There are various different trains you can take from Osaka to Hiroshima, but I am only going to talk about the fastest way from Osaka to Hiroshima then to Miyajima because you don’t want to spend hours on the train when you are going to Miyajima as a day trip.
The fastest way from Osaka to Miyajima requires the following:
- Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Hiroshima Station (91 minutes)
- Transfer to San-yo Line at Hiroshima Station to go to Miyajimaguchi Station (30 minutes)
- Walk from Miyajimaguchi Station to JR Miyajima Ferry (10 minutes)
- Take JR Miyajima Ferry to Miyajima Island (10 minutes)
There are other slower trains and even buses you can take from Osaka to Hiroshima if you want to save money or don’t have a JR pass. But I do not recommend them since they take so much longer.
How to see the floating shrine in the water
The shrine is not always in the water (surprise)!
The floating torii gate at Miyajima is only in the water during high tide. During low tide, you can actually walk to the Miyajima torii gate so that’s pretty cool too.
Therefore you want to visit Miyajima either right before high tide or right before low tide to get the best experience at the torii gate.
The tricky thing is high tide and low tide time changes everyday at Miyajima, so there is no set time to go.
How do you find out when high tide is at Miyajima? Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an oceanographer to know the tide time. There are websites that can help.
One day itinerary from Osaka to Miyajima and Hiroshima
This is a sample day trip itinerary from Osaka to Miyajima based on what we did when we visited.
However keep in mind that we were jet lagged (this was our first day after landing in Japan) so it was easy for us to get up really early to catch an early Shinkansen from Osaka to Hiroshima.
Because we left so early we were able to go to Miyajima, spend the time there and in Hiroshima and come back to Osaka to have dinner.
We also planned the Miyajima day trip based on tide time so we could catch high tide mid morning (there was no way we could catch a high tide at 7am or 4pm for example). If you cannot catch a high tide in Miyajima, the next best thing is to try to catch a low tide so you can walk under the torii gate.
6:50am: Shinkansen from Shin Osaka station to Hiroshima
When I said we started early, we really started early! In order to get to Miyajima in time for the high tide, we planned backwards to see what time we needed to leave and this was what we came up with.
If you do not have your JR pass, you will also need to get to the Shin-Osaka Station earlier to pick up your JR Pass and buy some breakfast to eat on the train.
At Hiroshima station, follow signs for JR Transfer Exit and head towards the red San-yo Line for Iwakuni.
The station you want to get off on the San-yo Line is Miyajimaguchi. The train will actually warn you before Miyauchi-Kushido that Miyajimaguchi is the third stop since the names sound similar.
Once you get off San-Yo Line at Miyajimaguchi, you will need to walk about 10 minutes to the free JR Ferry dock. But before you do that, you can actually stop by a famous Anago restaurant あなごめしうえの 宮島口本店 and get the local specialty Eel Bento.
Why should you do that? It actually saves you a lot of time to buy the bento box here because there is a long wait at restaurants on Miyajima island and the local specialty there is also eel and oysters (more on that later).
But if you don’t want your bento box to be cold, then you can skip this and just wait at restaurants on Miyajima Island.
9:25am: JR Ferry to Miyajima Island
There are actually 2 ferries you can take from Hiroshima to Miyajima:
- Free JR Miyajima Ferry (if you have the JR Pass)
- A paid ferry from Hiroshima Peace Park to Miyajima
We took both ferries (JR ferry to Miyajima and paid ferry back to Hiroshima Peace Park) so we can experience both and save traveling time to Hiroshima Peace Park later in the day.
After getting the bento box and walking a few minutes, you will arrive at the JR West Miyajima Ferry station.
9:30am – 1:30pm: Explore Miyajima Island
There are quite a few things you can do on Miyajima Island so you can totally spend most of the day exploring the island.
Alternatively you can spend a few hours on Miyajima and then go to Hiroshima, and that is what we did.
Stop 1. Itsukushima Jinja
The floating shrine is probably what you came to Miyajima for.
After getting off the ferry, turn right and walk along the water until you see the floating torii gate.
The floating torii gate is free to see but if you want to enter the Itsukushima Shrine and get the most direct view, then it costs 300 Yen to enter.
Itsukushima Shrine is an Unesco World Heritage Site. The shrine itself is also built over water and there are many different buildings that make up the shrine. The different halls and rooms of the shrine are connected by boardwalks above water.
At night the shrine and the torii gates are illuminated until 11pm everyday.
If you brought the eel bento box earlier before getting on the ferry, you can certainly sit on the side and enjoy your meal with the view of the Miyajima floating torii gate.
Stop 2. Daishoin Temple (大聖院)
After you finish visiting Itsukushima Shrine, walk 5 minutes and you will come to another famous temple, Daishoin.
Daishoin is an important buddhist temple at the base of Mount Misen. It was founded in the year 806 by monk Kukai, who is the founder of Shingon Buddhism.
As you enter the temple gate, you will walk up a steep set of stairs to the main temple hall. One interesting tradition is to spin the metal cylinders in the “handrail” which will bring blessings to you (you will have to spin all of them).
Another interesting thing about Daishoin is the 500 statues of buddhas each with their own expressions. Locals and visitors knit hats and scarves for these buddha statues so you will find some of them with hats on.
Stop 3. Explore Omotesando Shotengai (shopping street)
If you are hungry then it’s the perfect time to explore the shopping street on Miyajima Island.
The street is full of local street food and souvenir shops. Generally in Japan you are not supposed to walk on the street while eating but it seems acceptable to do that here.
Lunch: What to eat in Miyajima Island
Some note worthy things to eat on Miyajima include Oysters, Anago (Conger Eel, different from Ugai), and Momiji Manju (fluffy pancakes filled with red bean filling).
The best anago restaurant in Miyajima is Anagomeshi (Conger Eel), Fujitaya. It has a high rating on Tabelog (the Yelp of Japan) so it’s extremely popular. The downside is that the wait is very very long. This is actually why we decided to buy the eel bento box in Hiroshima before the ferry so we don’t have to wait for hours in line for the anago bento.
If you do not want to wait at Fujitaya, you can always try other restaurants like WADA and Iwamura.
Oysters are a local specialty as they are caught in the local waters. You can get them fried or grilled.
The best places to get Oysters in Miyajima are Kakiya aka Oyster House (has English menu), Yakigaki no Hayashi and Iwamura.
There are many stores that sell Momiji Manju, but the best one we found was Iwamura Momijiya. We wanted to bring them back but unfortunately they only last 10 days.
Stop 5. Nagahama Shrine
There is a much smaller floating shrine in Miyajima Island called Nagahama Shrine.
It is located on the other side of the ferry terminal so not as many people know about or visit this shrine.
If you have time you can simply walk around to see it.
We did not want to spend all day on Miyajima Island so we left around 1:30pm to catch the 1:40pm ferry to Hiroshima Peace Park (more on that later).
But if you want to spend more time on Miyajima, there are many other things you can do.
If you want to spend all day on Miyajima (or potentially staying overnight)
Momijidani Park (紅葉谷公園)
Momijidani Park is a nice and quiet park not too far from Itsukushima Shrine. It is the perfect place to catch foliage (the red maple leaves as implied in its name) if you are visiting during the fall.
As you walk and explore the park, you will definitely run into some adorable free roaming deer. However unlike the deers in Nara, you should not feed deer on Miyajima Island.
Mt. Misen and Miyajima Ropeway
Mt. Misen and the floating shrine are probably the two most famous attractions on Miyajima.
Mt. Misen is a holy mountain and the highest mountain in Miyajima. Many visitors either hike up one of the 3 hiking routes or take the ropeway to the Shishiiwa observatory (then hike to Mount Misen Observatory) to enjoy the sweeping view of the bay.
Miyajima Public Aquarium
Located not too far from Itsukushima Shrine is the Miyajima Public Aquarium.
This family friendly aquarium features whale takes, penguin pools, sea lion shows and other interesting exhibits.
1:40pm – Paid Ferry from Miyajima to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
We decided to not take the free JR ferry because we wanted to check out Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
If you are spending the day on Miyajima and not planning to go to the peace park then you certainly can take the free JR ferry back to the same place where you got on.
Follow signs for Hiroshima Port (past the initial JR terminal). Tickets for the Hiroshima ferry is 2200 Yen for adults.
One thing to keep in mind is that if water level is too high, it will prevent the boat from going under the bridge. On those days the boat will be cancelled.
There are also a couple of other cruise routes to Miyajima. You can read more about them on the official website above.
From the open deck of the ferry, you will be able to enjoy the view of the bay, the city of Hiroshima and see the Peace Memorial Park as well as the Atomic Bomb Dome building, the remains of the Industrial Promotion Hall that was destroyed by the atomic bomb.
2:25pm – Explore Peace Memorial Park & Shopping Street
The Peace Memorial Park is not super big and you can spend a couple of hours exploring it, including the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Pond of Peace, Fountain of peace, Atomic Bomb Memorial Burial Mound, Bell of Peace, and Clock Tower of Peace.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum costs 200 yen per person and you can also pay 400 Yen for an audio guide.
Note that the museum can get quite crowded as there is a guide path with a lot of details to read on the exhibit so there will be a lot of people standing around reading the details.
After seeing the Peace Memorial Park, you can explore other parts of Hiroshima like the busy Aioi-Dori and Hondori district and try Okonomiyaki at Okonomimura.
Shinkansen back to Osaka
We did not explore Hiroshima too much as we wanted to get back to Osaka for dinner. So we caught the 4:49pm Shinkansen back to Shin Osaka and the train arrived in 90 minutes.
If you want, you can certainly spend more time in Hiroshima, grab dinner there and take a later train back to Shin Osaka. You can find all the train time on Google Maps from Hiroshima Station to Osaka.
But beware that if you have a JR Pass, it limits the Shinkansen you can take (you can only take JR Shinkansen). So you should check to make sure which Shinkansen you can take.
Where to Stay in Miyajima
If you do decide to stay overnight in Miyajima, there are a few ryokans and hotels on the island. By staying overnight you get to explore the island early morning and sunset when the day trippers have left.
Read My Other Japan Blogs
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