Miyajima’s array of ancient Shinto and Buddhist temples, shrines, pagodas and statues give it a timelessly meditative character. On this compact ‘Island of Gods’ in Hiroshima Bay, a haunting soundtrack of bells, drums and chanting wafts through buildings that seem to float above the waves, and there’s an all-pervading smell of incense in the sea-salty breeze.
This contemplative air is more than strong enough to withstand the island’s popularity as a day trip from Hiroshima. Beyond the serenely beautifully World Heritage-listed Itsukushima Shrine and its ridiculously photogenic vermillion torii gate lie less headline-grabbing sacred structures and barely trodden forest paths where half-tame sika deer roam.
To enjoy Miyajima at its tranquil best, however, you need to stay overnight at one of its restful ryokans. Once the last ferry has left, a soul-soothing silence – broken only by the whoosh of the waves and the gentle clanking of wooden prayer plaques in the breeze – reigns supreme, and the iconic torii gate, floodlit after sunset, looks more magical than ever.
Knowing when and where to go and where to linger to find the true essence of Miyajima takes in-depth knowledge. Our Japan experts are here to share theirs with you.