Are you planning a family trip to Japan? If you are, you are probably starting to think about which cities to visit and what sites to see. Popular places like Tokyo and Osaka are obvious choices when visiting Japan with kids. Most of you will fly into one of these two cities to start your trip! If you are looking for a destination with beauty and a rich history, let us suggest to you the incredible island of Miyajima. In this Miyajima review article, we’ll talk about what to expect, how to get there, and why you should consider visiting Miyajima as a part of your Japan trip!

What is Miyajima?

Miyajima is known locally as Itsukushima Island. Its name means Shrine Island in Japanese and once you get there, you will understand why. The island is located in Hiroshima Bay which is a part of the Inland Sea of Japan. Miyajima is located in the city of Hatsukaichi which is a part of the Hiroshima prefecture.

This island has a rich cultural history. It is one of the locations of the Three Views of Japan by scholar Hayashi Gaho from 1643. These Three Views are Japan’s three most iconic and historically relevant sites. The other two are the Pine Islands of Matsushima in Miyagi and the Amanohashidate sandbar in Kyoto.

Today, Miyajima is one of Japan’s most celebrated cultural locations and is a must-visit for any tourist. You will probably recognize the main Torii or shrine that sits in the middle of the ocean, welcoming visitors to the island. The Itsukushima Torii is one of Japan’s most famous Shinto shrines and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Miyajima Island is just over 30 square kilometres in size and is covered mostly by forests. The population of Miyajima Island is just over 2,000 residents who live in the towns and own small businesses on the island.

Miyajima Review: What is Miyajima Known For?

The Itsukushima Shrine is the most well-known landmark to visit at Miyajima. As soon as you arrive at Miyajima you will see what else the island is known for: Deer!

The island is populated by Nihonjika or Japanese Deer that can be seen walking around amongst visitors and locals. Don’t worry, they are safe and not hostile at all. These deer are used to having humans around them and look to them for treats or snacks. Do not feed the deer any human food! Not only is it bad for them but they will pester you and follow you around for the rest of the day.

These deer live in the woods surrounding the town and typically head back there at night time to sleep. We recommend not letting your children pet them or touch them. They are wild animals and not under the control of anyone at Miyajima. Although they are cute, they can carry germs or diseases and can even bite if provoked.

The Nihonjika of Miyajima are considered to be messengers from the Gods and are highly coveted in the Shinto religion.

What else is Miyajima famous for? The island has beautiful maple trees that are a symbol of the Hiroshima Prefecture. The Momiji Manju, a confectionery in the prefecture, is made by baking cakes filled with red bean paste using buckwheat flour. Shaped like a maple leaf, it is one of the best-known delicacies of the region. It has a moist, cakey dough compared to other Japanese desserts.

Miyajima Review: Miyajima Shrines and Temples

The Itsukusima Shrine is the main attraction at Miyajima. Depending on when you go, the shrine can be accessed directly if the tide has gone out. When the tide is out, you can access the shrine directly. When the tide is in, the shrine’s bottom is submerged in water. But when the tide goes out, you can walk right up to it and take incredible pictures. Some photographers can even arrange for a family portrait with a couple of trained deer for a small fee.

There are plenty of other shrines and temples to see on Miyajima Island including the Daiganji Temple. Daiganji Temple is a Buddhist Temple of Benzaiten, the goddess of speech and the arts. You can often find colourful banners flying that are important symbols of Buddhism. This temple has been around since 1200 and practices the Shingon sect of Buddhism. Admission to Daigani Temple is free although most Japanese people will offer a small donation in exchange for prayers.

The Gojunoto Five-Storied Pagoda is easy to recognize as it stands taller than the other buildings on Miyajima. This pagoda is dedicated to the Buddhist God of Medicine and was originally constructed in 1407. Gojunoto is closed to the public so you can only see the outside of the structure. We recommend visiting in March when the Sakura cherry blossoms are in bloom!

Mount Misen is a sacred area of Itsukushima Island and is visible from the ferry ride. This mountain has three trails to the summit that each takes between one and a half to two hours to complete. You can also take the Miyajima Ropeway which is always a fun experience for kids! The Ropeway accepts PASPY cards which include the SuiCA, PASMO, TOICA, and ICOCA commuter cards.

Miyajima Ropeway Hours and Fees

Miyajima Ropeway HoursCommuting Up Mount MisenCommuting Down Mount Misen
Open9:00 AM9:20 AM
Close4:00 PM4:30 PM
ClassificationAge GroupRound TripOne Way
Ordinary RateAdult (12+)¥2,000¥1,100
Child (6 to 12)¥1,000¥550
Group Rate
(15 people or more)
Adult (12+)¥1,800¥1,050
Child (6 to 12)¥900¥500
Disabled RateAdult (12+)¥1,000¥550
Junior High/High School Age¥700¥450
Child (6 to 12)¥500¥270
Child (0 to 5)FreeFree

Children under the age of six are free but if you have more than one, you will have to pay the child’s rate for the second kid. It is a fast but scenic ride up Mount Misen! We recommend taking the ropeway up the mountain and then hiking back down.

Miyajima Public Aquarium

Miyajima also has a public aquarium that the whole family can visit. It is relatively small, compared to other Japanese aquariums like Kaiyukan in Osaka. You can see beluga whales, sea lions, otters, seals, penguins, and even a live show. The aquarium is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day except select holidays.

Here are the prices for the Miyajima Public Aquarium as of 2024:

ClassificationAdults Elementary/
Junior High School
Young ChildrenUnder Four Years
Groups (20 or More)¥1,140¥570¥320Free
Annual Pass¥3,560¥1,730¥1,010Free

How to Access the Miyajima Public Aquarium

You can drive into the aquarium if you have a car or want to take a taxi cab.

By train, you can access Miyajima Public Aquarium via train from Hiroshima Station. Take the JR Sanyo Line from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi which will take about 25 minutes.

You can also take the Hiroshima Electric Railway Main Line which will take about 68 minutes.

By ferry, you can take the JR West Miyajima Ferry or the Miyajima Matsudai Kisen Tourist Ship. This trip will take about ten minutes but we highly recommend it if you are travelling with kids! The JR West Ferry is free if you are travelling with the JR Japan Rail Pass!

How to Get to Miyajima Island

From Hiroshima Station, the easiest way to get to Miyajima Island is by ferry.

Take the JR Sanyo Line from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimaguchi. This will take about 25 minutes and cost you about 420 Yen. It is free with the JR Japan Rail Pass.

At Miyajimaguchi Station, you will need to walk to the ferry station where the boats depart from. You can take the JR West Miyajima Ferry or the Miyajima Matsudai Kisen Tourist Ship to Miyajima. If you have the JR Japan Rail Pass, we recommend taking the JR West Ferry. If you do not, then it is 400 yen round trip for adults and 200 yen for children.

The Miyajima Matsudai Kisen boat will take you to Miyajima and depart from the Hiroshima Peace Park. This boat will cost you about 4,000 Yen round trip but takes about the same amount of time as the JR West Ferry. If you take it from the Miyajimaguchi station, it will only cost you 400 yen and take about ten minutes.

Will My Kids Enjoy Miyajima?

Yes! Miyajima is a place where tourism beautifully meets Japanese culture and history. We always try to dedicate a day to Miyajima when we can. Our children enjoy the ferry rides, the food, and all of the deer roaming around freely on the island.

There is something for everyone to see at Miyajima. From the historic temples and shrines to the family-friendly Miyajima aquarium, this tiny island is a must-see for any visitor to Japan. If it is your first time, we highly recommend taking the time to visit Miyajima for the day!

Did you enjoy our Miyajima Review? Thanks for stopping by today and giving our content a read! We’ll have more reviews of kid-friendly tourist attractions in Japan in the coming months!

Miyajima Review FAQs

Is It Worth Going to Miyajima?

Yes, Miyajima is worth going to for anyone visiting Japan, especially for the first time. It has the perfect balance of tourist attraction and cultural history. Miyajima is a day of fun for the whole family with plenty to experience that is also easy on your wallet. We highly recommend visiting Miyajima Island whenever you are in the Hiroshima area.

How Much Time Do You Need in Miyajima?

We recommend dedicating a day to Miyajima Island so that you can see everything the island has to offer. From the beautiful temples to the Mount Misen ropeway, there are plenty of things to keep you and your family occupied.

How Much is the Ferry to Miyajima?

From Miyajimaguchi station, the JR West Miyajima Ferry is just 400 yen for adults and 200 yen for children for a round trip. If you have the JR Japan Rail Pass, the JR West Miyajima Ferry fare is covered. The Miyajima Matsudai Kisen Boat will cost you the same but it is not covered by the JR Japan Rail Pass and will take you the same amount of time.

Is the Itsukushima Shrine Worth Going To?

Yes, it is a stunning and iconic shrine in Japan and around the world. The Itsukushima Shrine is one of the most beautiful landmarks in Japan and is well worth visiting if you have the chance. There are boat tours you can take to get closer or you can settle for scenic photos from the island. We recommend waiting until the tide goes out so that you can walk right up to the shrine and get a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity!

How Long Does the Miyajima Ropeway Take?

The Miyajima Ropeway at Mount Misen will take about 12 or 13 minutes to get to the top or bottom. It provides a scenic view of Miyajima Island and is well worth the minimal fare to ride to the top of the mountain. Our recommendation is to ride the ropeway up the mountain and take the hike back down!