If there was a moment in my life I wish I could slow down time, it was the moment I visited Miyajima Island in Hiroshima, Japan. It was everything I imagined traditional Japan to be. The architectural design of the island’s infrastructures, as well as the people in local stores dressed in traditional Japanese outfits, made me feel as if I travelled back in time to see the glorious Japanese past.
Otherwise known as Itsukushima, the island is more popularly known as Miyajima that means “shrine island.” It was aptly called as such because after less than an hour of travel from Hiroshima, guests would be welcomed by the magnificently giant torii gate, which seems to float on water when high tide. When I visited Miyajima Island, though, the tide was low. However, I grabbed to opportunity to look at the shrine up close.
At first, there was nothing extraordinary in the shrine. However, I suggest that you must not look at it separately, but as part of the island’s synergy. It must be enjoyed in totality with the shrines, temples, waters, trees, mountains and animals that complete the island experience.
Other attraction in the island I was very fortunate to see was the Itsukushima Shrine built centuries ago. It was a complex where the traditional Japanese attraction such as the Noh Theater Stage, as well as a prayel hall and other multiple buildings, could be found. On the other hand, Mt. Misen, the island’s highest peak, could visually stun any guest that could see it as the mountain proudly displays its grandeur all throughout the island.
Since I am a sucker for history, environment and culture, Miyajima Island ranks among the best of the places I have visited thus far. It was not too crowded; thus, it still felt serene. The island is specifically designed as a worship place, and it remained true to its integrity up to today. People with strong passion about history would be especially amazed to know the roots of Miyamija Island.
However, when I visisted the place, I felt like time and space did not matter anymore as the genuine historical atmosphere of the place already brought me back to a special place in time of historical glory. Perhaps, the waters of the Seto Inland Sea shares its cool breeze to the island’s visitors to enhance the ambience. Likewise, the tranquil vibe of the walking trails around the island became even more memorable because of the presence of deer that seem to guide visitors as they explore the island.
The beauty and splendor of Miyajima Island made me reflect. As a Filipino whose country is archipelagic, I could not help but envy what Japan did to this island. They managed to preserve such historical treasure without compromising the welfare of the environment. I hope that the subtle land use in Miyajima Island could inspire our government to do the same with the Philippines’ historical islands with nature to be proud of. Islands such as Boracay and Cebu that are already on the brink of reaching their maximum carrying capacity could be developed parallel to the advancements done to Miyajima Island. Developing countries like the Philippines could learn a thing or two about the importance of history, culture and environment in Miyajima Island.
Meanwhile, the overall generalization that made visiting Miyajima Island very worthwhile is the amount of culture that is transmitted to guests. It was well maintained that no guilt could be felt while enjoying the attractions in the island. By no guilt, I mean that it did not feel like indigenous cultures are sacrificed only for touristic purposes.
There was so much more to see in Miyajima Island, that I could probably spend an entire summer in the area. But all good things must come to an end. However, the beautiful memories I made at Miyajima Island only inspire me to strive to visit the island again with my loved ones. It was such a special place that could be even more special if shared with people that matter the most to you. Thus, the next time I visit this place, I will make sure to tag my whole family with me.
Anyone could visit the place I am boasting about either by train and ferry or by a direct boat. By train and ferry, take the JR Sanyo Line from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi Station (covered by Japan Rail Pass). It takes around 25 minutes and costs 410 yen, one way. A cheaper alternative is by taking the tramline number 2 from central Hiroshima going to Miyajimaguchi. It only costs 260 yen, one way, but the Japan Rail Pass does not cover it. From Miyajimaguchi Station, take a short walk to the ferry pier. The ferry ride takes 10 minutes, and cost 360 yen, round trip. The Japan Rail Pass is valid on JR Ferries.
If you plan to go to Miyajima Island after exploring other Hiroshima attractions, you can take a direct boat from the Hiroshima Peace Park. It takes 55 minutes, and costs 2000 yen, one-way, and 3600 yen, round trip. Another direct boat can take you to Miyajima Island from the Hiroshima Port. It takes 25 minutes, and costs 1850 yen, one-way. However, the Japan Rail Pass is not valid on these boats.
I highly recommend Miyajima Island to people looking for a perfect combination of history, culture and environment. It may not be the cheapest destination, but it’s definitely worth every penny. It’s totally worth saving for. Lastly, do not forget to visit the local stores selling traditional Japanese items. They sell some very cute Japanese dolls in there.
Have you also visited Miyajima Island? Do you have plans of going here? Tell me what you think in the comments section below.
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Crazy about popular culture, pre-colonial, and Spanish-era studies. Fan of Christina Aguilera and Katrina Halili.