Miyajima: UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site

Nadia on the Shishiwa Overlook

The Itsukushima shrine on Miyajima Island is one of 18 United Nations Cultural Heritage sites in Japan. The Shinto shrine has an unusual Torii (gate) in the tidal bay that draws hundreds of tourists daily. Besides the gate and temple, the island is dramatically beautiful with sharply rising green hills and rocky outcrops. There are also breathtaking views of the islands of the Seto Inland Sea. After the Atomic Bomb Dome / Peace Park, it is the attraction to see in Hiroshima.

Oliver giving his best “Blue Steel”

It was a super hot day with temperatures close to 100 F. In my previous visits, we usually hike to the summit of Mount Misen, the highest point on the island, but instead took the cable car up to the top. The views did not disappoint, but we were ready to cool down after walking around at the top station.

Ocean under the Torii as the tide is going out

We stopped for ice cold Summer I.P.A. on tap at the Miyajima Brewery and they really hit the spot. Before leaving the island, we had to try the Hiroshima-style okonomiyakiThe four-hour drive back to Osaka went well. We recovered this weekend. It has been nice to have my uncle visit in this last week of summer holidays.

Miyajima Brewery 

Miyajima World Heritage Site

The famous torii at low tide

I can see why the shrine on Miyajima (shrine island) is an UNESCO World Heritage site. Besides the really cool looking shinto gate (torii in Japanese), the green, mountainous island in Hiroshima bay is a stunning backdrop.  It reminded me a bit of the Mediterranean coast. I highly recommend staying at a hotel on the island and spending 1-2 days exploring. Besides being recognized by the UN, it is also one of the “three views of Japan” cited by 17th century scholar Hayashi Gahoo. This is the second of the three that I have visited.

The view from Mount Misen

My favorite part of the island is the hike to Mount Misen (535 meters – 1,755 feet). The views are spectacular, especially on a bright, sunny day like we had yesterday. It takes about 1 and 1/2 hours of pretty steep climbing, but well worth the effort. There is the typical tourist alley of shops and restaurants. We tried the Hiroshima style okonomiyaki, the savory pancakes. In Hiroshima they use more cabbage than in Osaka. I also had a bowl of the abundant grilled oysters that are caught in the bay. There are also loads of tame deer making a nuisance of themselves with tourists.

The torii at high tide.

It was a great day for me. Walking in nature, cool sea breezes, delicious food and lots of laughs with the students and fellow chaperones. Also being a weekday, there were not the usual holiday crowds. I can’t recommend enough, a visit to this special place.