Experience the Best of Hiroshima and Miyajima in Three Days

Itsukushima-jinja Otorii on Miyajima at sunset by Beau Swierstra on Unsplash

This article may contain links to products and services we use and recommend. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For more information, see our Disclosure Policy.

Hiroshima and nearby Miyajima Island should be on every traveller’s Japanese bucket list. From the iconic A-Bomb Dome [Official website, Google Maps location] in Hiroshima to the giant floating vermilion-coloured Torii off Miyajima [Official website, Google Maps location], there is an abundance of things to see and do. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast or a foodie, our three-day itinerary will help you make the most of your time in this beautiful corner of Japan.

Subscription Form - Sustainable Travel Checklist

Download your Sustainable Travel Checklist and show the world you care

As travellers, we should all be aware of our travel behaviour and its environmental, economic and social impact; and make conscious decisions about it. Too often, we hear negative stories in the media about tourists behaving badly.

Here is your chance to tick some boxes and check out what it really takes to travel with a sustainable mindset.

How much time should you spend in Hiroshima and Miyajima?

Our short answer would have to be: As long as you can afford – there is plenty to see and do.

That said, we know many people wonder whether to include Hiroshima and Miyajima in a two- or three-week trip to Japan. If that’s you, we recommend setting aside three days, which will give you a good introduction to the area.

hiroshima castle tower

Among our absolute favourites, Hiroshima is welcoming and friendly with wonderful people

When is the best time to visit Hiroshima and Miyajima?

Based on our own experience, we recommend visiting between mid-February and mid-March:

  • It will be chilly at night, but the days are (mostly) sunny with maximum temperatures in the high teens (Celsius).
  • While you will miss the cherry blossom season, it’s a good time to see the plum trees in bloom, which is also very beautiful.
  • It’s oyster season – a great opportunity to indulge in some local delicacies.
plum blossoms at hiroshima castle

Mid-February to mid-March is a great time to visit Hiroshima and Miyajima - the plum trees are in bloom, and it's oyster season

In Autumn (especially the first half of November), you can experience the foliage changing colours, offering a stunning display of nature’s beauty.

If you prefer it to be a little warmer (and you don’t care so much about oysters, spring blossoms or foliage colours), May (except during Golden Week) and October are also great periods.

We recommend avoiding

  • the cherry blossom season (usually the second half of March) and Golden Week (the first week of May), which are way too crowded to be enjoyable, and
  • the summer months (June to September), as they are not only very crowded but also (uncomfortably) hot and humid.
maple leave in autumn by andy jarrige on pixabay

Autumn is another great season to experience Hiroshima and Miyajima | Photo by Andy Jarrige on Pixabay

What are IC cards?

In Japan, you will come across the term IC card a lot (IC stands for Integrated Circuit). IC cards are essentially plastic cards that can be topped up and the amount stored on the card is used for transportation - simply by tapping on/off at the card reader - and more and more at convenience stores and other places.

Each region issues their own version of the IC card, for example

  • If you enter via Tokyo Narita or Haneda Airports, you would buy the Suica Card or PASMO card.
  • If you enter via Osaka Kansai Airport, you will find the ICOCA card for sale.

Fortunately, 10 of the most common IC cards (including the two above) can be used across regions (and likely more will be added over time). Some regions (including Nagano and Okinawa prefectures) only allow their own IC card (at this stage) or cash.

Also, note:

  • Cards (including any stored funds) will expire after 10 years of non-use, which means you can reuse the card if you return to Japan within that timeframe.
  • You can return it (and get a refund of the money on the card plus the deposit you paid for the card itself) - as long as it's in the region you bought it.
  • You can load the IC card onto your smartphone - via Apple Pay or Google Pay - but you won't be able to get a refund of your deposit or any funds stored when you leave the country.

How to get to Hiroshima and Miyajima

Hiroshima is conveniently located on the Sanyo Shinkansen route between Osaka and Fukuoka (Hakata), making it easily accessible from Osaka, Kyoto and even Tokyo. The Shinkansen takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka, just under 2 hours from Kyoto, and approximately 4 hours from Tokyo.

If you don’t have a JR Pass consider this discounted ticket from Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima.

hiroshima station

Hiroshima is conveniently located on the Sanyo Shinkansen route between Osaka and Fukuoka (Hakata)

Once in Hiroshima, it’s a short 30-minute ride on the San-yo JR line to Miyajimaguchi Station [Google Maps location], the access point to Miyajima island. From the station, it’s a quick stroll to the waterfront and the ferry terminal. The ferry ride to Miyajima Island takes about 10 minutes.

The ferry service to Miyajima Island is provided by two different companies. The JR Pass is only valid on the JR West Ferry. If you don’t have a JR Pass or want to use the other ferry, buy a ferry ticket at the ticket machines or use your IC card.

miyajima jr ferry

Only the JR West ferry to Miyajima is covered by the JR Pass

How to get around Hiroshima and Miyajima

Hiroshima sits in the delta of the Ōta-gawa River as it enters the Seto Inland Sea, making it easy to explore the city on foot and by bicycle. Hiroshima also has a convenient public transportation system, comprising streetcars, JR trains, the Astram Line and buses.

While the sights on Miyajima are all within walking distance from the ferry terminal, Miyajima is a very mountainous island, and some sights on this itinerary include walking uphill. There is a ropeway partway up Mt Misen providing access to the Mount Misen Observatory [Google Maps location], but  be aware that the ropeway is closed for maintenance twice a year for a few weeks (February/March and June/July). If the ropeway operating is important to you, check the website and/or contact the ropeway operator before your visit.

hiroshima tram by djedj on pixabay

Hiroshima boasts a convenient public transportation system, including a number of tram lines | Photo by Djedj on Pixabay

Map of Accommodation, Points of Interest, Eateries and Transport

Below is a map of the recommended accommodation, points of interest, eateries and transport terminals/stops mentioned in this article.

Day 1 – Travel to and first exploration of Miyajima

Today you will travel by train to Miyajimaguchi Station [Google Maps location], with a change at Hiroshima Station [Google Maps location]. This journey can be combined with a stopover in Kobe and/or Himeji if desired.

Once in Miyajimaguchi, walk to the Ferry Terminal and take the ferry across to Miyajima. Upon reaching the island, drop off your luggage at your accommodation and then head straight to the Daishō-in temple complex [Official website, Google Maps location] (the temple closes at 1700h).

daishō in temple entry

Like Koyasan, Daishō-in on Miyajima was founded by Kōbō-Daishi in 806

The complex is built into the mountainside above Itsukushima-jinja [Official website, Google Maps location], the shrine with the Giant Floating Torii you’ll be passing on the ferry over. Daishō-in is one of the most important temples of the Shingon School of Buddhism. Like Koyasan [Google Maps location] in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula in Wakayama, it was founded by the monk Kūkai (posthumously known as Kōbō-Daishi) in 806. Take your time exploring the grounds and temple structures – it’s a truly serene place.

Afterwards, enjoy watching the sunset overlooking the Giant Torii. We also recommend buying some provisions for the next day at Foods Shop KUMAKIN [Google Maps location] (closes at 1900h).

sunset at giant torii miyajima

The Itsukushima-jinja Otorii on Miyajima is especially magnificient at sunset, and if the tide is low, you can even walk through it

Where to stay on Miyajima Island

When booking your accommodation, make sure to ask for a late check-out.

 

For accommodation, as with any other travel expenses, it’s worth shopping around. When we book our accommodation, we look across several booking platforms to find the best value-for-money option. Wherever you book, do make sure you read the fine print to make sure you compare apples with apples. For example, your stay may incur extra charges (like local tourist taxes or cleaning fees). Some booking platforms include them, while with others, you have to pay them to your host upon arrival.

Below are my recommendations for accommodation options that fit the criteria of affordable, often meeting a sustainability certification, and that are close to public transport and points of interest.

NameProperty FeaturesTypePrice IndicatorBook Now
Miyajima Guest House MikuniyaJapanese-style rooms
Complimentary breakfast and dinner

Guesthouse$$Book Now
Sakuraya Miyajima3-star
Japanese-style rooms with mountain or sea views
Inn$$Book Now
Sustainability Certification included as appropriate, but not validated. $ is USD50 and below. $$$$ is USD150 and above. A marks where we stayed and would highly recommend to our friends and family.

What and where to eat on Miyajima

We recommend Okonomiyaki Kishibe [Google Maps location], known for its Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki (The restaurant is closed on Thursdays and Fridays). Or, if you’re craving Miyajima specialities, such as delicious oysters and conger eel (anago), Mikotoya [Google Maps location] is the place to go (closed Sundays and Mondays).

oysters at mikotoya

If you happen to visit Miyajima during oyster season make sure you try some - they are delicious

Miyajima deer advice

You’ll notice the beautiful Sika deer as soon as you arrive in Miyajima Island. Sika deer are native to Japan, and there are about 500 of them roaming freely around Miyajima.

While the deer may appear tame (and indeed some may come a bit too close for comfort), they are wild animals. Those living in the forests around the island actually avoid humans, and that’s how it should be. Disturbing the deer, taking selfies up close or even worse, feeding them, alters the deer’s behaviour and puts them in harm’s way.

Unfortunately, a lot of tourists coming to Miyajima, get up close and personal with the deer, just for the sake of an Instagram shot. Please don’t be one of them. Observe them from a distance and definitely do not feed them. It is actually an offence to feed the deer and there are a number of posters and signs requesting tourists not to feed them.

deer on miyajima

The deer on Miyajima are wild animals - Give them space and don't feed them

Day 2 – Miyajima and Hiroshima

This morning, you’ll be hiking up Mt Misen, the sacred mountain of Miyajima.

It’s a 3-hour round trip (approximately 8 kilometres with a 490-metre elevation gain) – we recommend hiking the Momijidani Course up (approximately 2 hours) and the Daishō-in Course down (approximately 1 hour).

trail map mt misen

With a number of hiking trails leading to its summit, sacred Mt Misen on Miyajima is a paradise for nature lovers

The ropeway opens at 0900h, so aim for a 0700h to 0730h start of your hike to reach the top before the first ropeway users arrive. The hike is categorised as moderate. It requires at least a basic level of fitness and reasonably healthy knees, as the hike involves a large amount of walking up and down stone steps.

steps leading up mt misen

Hiking Mt Misen involves walking up and down a huge number of stone steps - bring hiking poles to make it easier on your knees

Kūkai himself used Mt Misen for ascetic practice. The fire lit by Kūkai 1,200 years ago still burns to this day in the Kiezu-no-Reikado pavilion [Google Maps location] near the summit (unsurprisingly, the structure is covered in soot). The fire was also used to light the Flame of Peace [Google Maps location] at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima.

fire hall on mt misen

The fire lit by Kūkai 1,200 years ago still burns to this day in a pavilion near the summit of Mt Misen

If you prefer not to do the full hike, you can still experience the beauty of Mt Misen by taking the ropeway to the top. In this case, check out before you head to the ropeway (and ask your accommodation to keep your luggage for a few hours).

Getting to the ropeway still requires an uphill walk of about 1.5 kilometres. The ropeway ride itself takes about 15 minutes. Once at the top, you can visit the Shishiiwa Observatory (100 metres above the top ropeway station) or continue hiking to the summit of Mt Misen (approximately 1 kilometre or 30 minutes largely uphill) for stunning 360-degree views over the Seto Inland Sea.

mt misen summit views

The summit of Mt Misen offers stunning 360 degree views over the Seto Inland Sea

Afterwards, head back to your accommodation for a shower before check-out and/or to pick up your luggage before heading to the ferry terminal.

If you’re looking for an edible souvenir of the island, buy a box of Momiji Manju (a sweet in the shape of a maple leaf, available with a variety of fillings – our favourites were smooth red bean paste and lemon curd).

Take the ferry back to the mainland, then the train back to Hiroshima and check into your accommodation for the night.

momiji manju

Before you leave Miyajima, make sure to taste Momiji Manju, a maple-leaf-shaped sweet available with a variety of fillings | Photo by Wiki Commons

Where to stay in Hiroshima

Our accommodation recommendations for Hiroshima are all close to the sights on this itinerary:

NameProperty FeaturesTypePrice IndicatorBook Now
Rihga Royal Hotel Hiroshima4-star
Restaurant,
24-hour front desk
Room service
Hotel$$$Book Now
WeBase Hiroshima3-star
24-hour front desk Shared kitchen
Hotel$$Book Now
Mitsui Garden Hotel4-star
24-hour front desk
Restaurant on-site
Hotel$$$Book Now
Hiroshima AirbnbApartment$$Book Now
Sustainability Certification included as appropriate, but not validated. $ is USD50 and below. $$$$ is USD150 and above. A marks where we stayed and would highly recommend to our friends and family.

What and Where to Eat in Hiroshima

Hiroshima is known for its own style of Okonomiyaki. Try it at Rokutsuboya in Noboricho [Google Maps location] (closed Sundays) OR Okonomimura [Google Maps location].

Another must-try speciality is Hiroshima beef. Great places are Rokutsuboya in Noboricho (closed Sundays), Fuoco Yakiniku in Tatemachi [Google Maps location] or Aohige [Google Maps location] near the A-Bomb Dome.

If you missed out on Miyajima oysters or conger eel, Ekohiiki [Google Maps location] is an Izakaya restaurant near the A-Bomb Dome where you can try both.

hiroshima style okonomiyaki at okonomimura

Hiroshima has its own style of Okonomiyaki, which we preferred over the Osaka style. What do you think?

Day 3 – Hiroshima

Today is all about exploring beautiful Hiroshima. So, after breakfast, check out of your accommodation and ask them to store your luggage for the day.

Your first stop will be the Peace Memorial Museum [Official website, Google Maps location] housed in two connected buildings near the southern end of the Peace Memorial Park. Take your time exploring the exhibits as you learn more about the events leading up to the atomic bomb, the immediate aftermath, the city’s rebuilding and the lasting impact of the bombing on the city and its people.

hiroshima peace memorial museum

The Peace Memorial Museum is a must-see for those visiting Hiroshima

Make sure to join the talks with the descendants of survivors if you have the opportunity.

invitation for talks with a bomb survivor descendants

Join talks with the descendants of A-bomb survivors if you have the chance

Afterwards, if you need a bite to eat or just a break to let it all sink in, the museum has a nice, but simple café on the ground floor.

After your museum visit, take a leisurely stroll through the Peace Memorial Park, making sure to stop and pay your respects at the Hiroshima Victims Memorial Cenotaph, the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall, and the Children’s Peace Monument.

children's peace monument hiroshima

Make sure to visit the Children’s Peace Monument at the northern end of Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park

Finally, cross Motoyasu Bridge and pay your respects at the Atomic Bomb Dome [Google Maps location] and the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Hypocenter [Google Maps location] a block to the east – powerful symbols of peace for current and future generations.

a bomb dome and cenotaph hiroshima

Make sure to pay your respects at the Cenotaph and A-Bomb Dome when visiting Hiroshima

In the afternoon, consider visiting Mitaki-dera Temple [Google Maps location], a small temple complex in the hills to the north of the city centre. It takes about 20 minutes by public transport to get to Mitaki Train Station and a further 15-minute uphill walk from there.

mitaki dera temple

Mitaki-dera Temple is a tranquil oasis north of Hiroshima's city centre

The temple complex is beautifully tranquil with forest paths meandering along streams and waterfalls, between old temple buildings and shrines (some of which survived the A-Bomb blast), and past countless Buddha statues and rock carvings. There is also a stunning 16th-century pagoda which was brought here after the bombing for the spiritual support of the people of Hiroshima.

End your visit with a stop at the lovely Mitaki-dera Temple Tea House [Google Maps location] before you return to your accommodation to pick up your luggage and head to Hiroshima Station for your onward journey.

mitaki dera pagoda

Mitaki-dera's 16th century Pagoda was relocated here after the bombing for the spiritual support of the people of Hiroshima

What else is there to do in Hiroshima (if you have more time to spend)?

If you are able to spend additional days in Hiroshima, we can also recommend:

A note on the Mazda Museum: Even if the tour is only offered in Japanese on the day of your visit, we can recommend attending. The museum exhibits have English signage, and the assembly line is (largely) self-explanatory. Our guide spoke English and was more than happy to answer any questions we had.

mazda museum tour

If you have more time to spend in Hiroshima, join a guided tour of the Mazda Museum and assembly line

Other Recommended Experiences in Hiroshima

Culinary adventures

Outdoor activities

Subscription Form - Sustainable Travel Checklist

Download your Sustainable Travel Checklist and show the world you care

As travellers, we should all be aware of our travel behaviour and its environmental, economic and social impact; and make conscious decisions about it. Too often, we hear negative stories in the media about tourists behaving badly.

Here is your chance to tick some boxes and check out what it really takes to travel with a sustainable mindset.

cyclist by martin magnemyr on unsplash

Hiroshima is a great vantage point for the Shimanami Kaido and Shikoku Circuit cycling routes | Photo by Martin Magnemyr on Unsplash

And if you’re an avid cyclist, Hiroshima is a great vantage point for two epic cycling tours:

  • the 70+km long Shimanami Kaido from Onomichi on Honshu Island to Imabari on Shikoku Island (budget at least two days, the more the better), and
  • the 1,000km Shikoku Circuit – a complete circumnavigation of the island of Shikoku, starting and ending in Imabari (budget at least two weeks).

Onomichi can be reached by train from Hiroshima in just over an hour.

What did you do in Hiroshima and Miyajima that I forgot to mention?

I wrote this Hiroshima and Miyajima itinerary and guide based on my own experience. If you have been to Hiroshima and/or Miyajima and you have something to add, please feel free to contact me. If you liked my article and tips and found them helpful, I would appreciate it if you could share them with your friends and family via the Share buttons below. Even better, link to the page from your personal blog or social media platforms.

Experience the Best of Hiroshima and Miyajima in Three Days
Author: <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/sandrarosenau/" target="_blank">Sandra Rosenau</a>

Author: Sandra Rosenau

Sandra Rosenau is a Gen X gal from Germany, born and raised behind the Iron Curtain, with an unquenchable thirst to learn. Self-starter. Multi-lingual. Minimalist. Environmentally conscious. Financially and location independent. Energised by connecting with others and helping people succeed.