If you’re headed to Japan and plan on spending some time in Kyoto, there’s a good chance that you’re planning a trip to Hiroshima. As you do your research, you’ll quickly learn that the island of Miyajima is just 30 minutes from Hiroshima and is another place that’s worth spending some time. But are Hiroshima and Miyajima in one day from Kyoto possible? Yes, and here’s why you should do it.
Hiroshima is a must visit for obvious reasons. You know, since it was the site of the first atomic bomb during world war II. Miyajima, on the other hand, is a relatively quiet island with stunning temples and scenery which are a welcome change of pace from all the busy cities Japan has to offer. Most people hesitate to make the journey due to time, but in this Miyajima day trip guide from Kyoto, I’ll explain everything you need to know to make the journey smooth.
Getting from Kyoto to Miyajima
The only way you’ll be able to see Hiroshima and Miyajima in one day is by taking the Shinkansen. The day will be packed, so I recommend taking the 7:20AM train out of Kyoto so you can arrive at Miyajima island as everything starts to open. The exact route and timing are as follows:
- 07:20 – Depart Kyoto on the Shinkansen
- 09:05 – Arrive at Hiroshima station
- 09:15 – Depart Hiroshima station on the JR Sanyo Line for Iwakuni
- 09:43 – Arrive at Miyajimaguchi station and walk to the JR ferry
- 10:00 – Depart JR ferry for Miyajima Island
- 10:15 – Arrive Miyajima Island
The above route uses Japan Rail operated trains and ferries which mean that if you have a JR Pass, your entire journey is covered with it. There is a non-JR ferry at the terminal, so make sure you stand in line for the right one (it’ll be obvious). Here’s a screenshot of Hyperdia’s routing. Note that the train # and platform may change, so check the Hyperdia website or Japan Trains app the night before.
Miyajima day trip attractions
Since Miyajima and Hiroshima are some of the most popular day trips from Kyoto, and you plan on doing both, you’re going to have to limit the attractions you can see while you’re here. The good thing is, you’ve arrived early, so the crowds won’t be too bad. Here are the top attractions on Miyajima Island.
Itsukushima Shrine and the floating tori gate – The most recognizable attraction on Miyajima is the “floating” tori gate. The reason it appears to float is due to the high tide. During the low tide, you can walk right up to the gate. As for the Itsukushima Shrine, it spans multiple buildings and has been a place of worship since the 6th century. It’s relatively small but is a fascinating site and well worth the 300 yen admission you have to pay to get in.
Daisho-in Temple – Just a short walk from the Itsukushima Shrine is Daisho-in, a historical Buddhist temple that sits at the base of Mount Misen. There are a variety of buildings at the site including multiple halls, a tea room, and a cave full of icons. There are some English signs, so you’ll know what you’re looking at, and as you can imagine, there are Buddhist statues located all over the grounds.
Mount Misen – Some travellers make the journey from Kyoto to Miyajima strictly to hike to the top of Mount Misen where you can get stunning views of the sea and Hiroshima. The journey up and down can be fast tracked thanks to the ropeway stations (gondola), but it’ll still take you a few hours to get to the peak and back down. It’s definitely doable, but if you plan on seeing Hiroshima and Miyajima in one day, timing will be very tight.
Shops on Omotesando – This is the main shopping street at Miyajima. It caters to tourists, so you’ll find restaurants, snack shops, and souvenir shops. The most popular dishes on Miyajima are grilled oysters, (Nigiri Ten) fried fish paste, and steamed buns. The shops here sell things similar to the mainland.
Miyajima to Hiroshima Peace Park
Most people who decide to do Hiroshima and Miyajima in one day tend to head right for the Peace Park in Hiroshima once they’re done with Miyajima. There are a few ways to get there which I’ve listed below from a convenience standpoint.
JR & local tram – Take the ferry from Miyajima and then walk back to Miyajimaguchi station. Then take the JR Sanyo line for Hiroshima and get off at Shin-Inokuchi Station. Exit, and walk one minute to Shoko Center Iriguchi Station. Get on the #2 train on the Hiroshima Dentetsu Miyajima Line (towards Hiroshima station). Get off at Gembaku-Dome-Mae Station, and you’ll see the Peace Park in front of you. Although it may sound complicated, this is the easiest way to get from Miyajima to the Hiroshima Peace Park. When taking this route, make sure you’re following along with Google Maps or Hyperdia, so you don’t get lost.
JR Line only – Take the ferry from Miyajima and then walk back to Miyajimaguchi station. Then take the JR Sanyo line for Hiroshima and get off at Yokogawa station. You’ll then need to take a taxi which will take 10 minutes and cost you 1,000 yen. Alternatively, the walk to the Peace Park from Yokogawa station is about 30 minutes. This is the “cheapest” way if you decide to walk.
Direct ferry – There’s a direct ferry between Miyajima and Hiroshima Peace Park. This may seem like the best option, but it costs 2,000 yen one way, takes 55 minutes, and departs roughly every 30 minutes. You don’t save much time compared to the above options, and you will pay more taking this direct ferry.
Hiroshima day trip attractions
As you’ve probably figured out by now, timing is going to be tight for Hiroshima since you’ve already spent your morning at Miyajima. You’ll likely arrive at the Peace Park around 2-3pm which should give you enough time to explore. Here are the main attractions in Hiroshima which you’ll realistically have time to visit.
Hiroshima Peace Park – There are two main attractions here, the Atomic Bomb Dome which is ground zero of the bombing, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The museum takes about 1-2 hours to go through, but it closes at 6PM daily so you should have enough time. Throughout the park, there are multiple smaller memorials which are worth taking a moment to reflect. Note, that this is a pretty emotional place, taking selfies is not appropriate.
Hiroshima Castle – Located just a 20-minute walk from the Peace Park, Hiroshima Castle is great if you want to see a Japanese Castle. Inside you’ll see a small museum that includes traditional paintings and samurai armour, but note that pictures are not allowed. I should also mention that the castle is not that impressive compared to Himeji and Matsumoto, so skip the one here if you’ve already been to one of the others.
Okonomi-mura – Hiroshima is famous for their version of okonomiyaki and you can find an entire building dedicated to the comfort food at Okonomi-mura. There are about 30 restaurants that all serve okonomiyaki in this multi-story building, but they’re all good, so you really can’t go wrong with whichever place you pick.
In my opinion, doing Hiroshima and Miyajima in one day is worth it. Yes, your time will be limited, and you’ll be rushed, but what you see there will be worth it. If you can afford to spend an overnight in Hiroshima, then great, but if not, you shouldn’t miss out on one of the best day trips from Kyoto. Check out my guide on how much does it cost to go to Japan if you want to know how much a two-week trip will cost you.