Mount Misen, Floating Torii Gate & Hungry Deer | Miyajima, Japan

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Just a train ride and ferry away from Hiroshima is the beautiful island Miyajima.
Miyajima is known to be a sacred grounds for both Buddhism and Shintoism and is considered one of Japan's most scenic places. Best known for its Itsukushima shrine and "floating" torii, this place is a must-see.

Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen
Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen

Almost immediately when we stepped foot on the island, we were welcomed by some Sika deer. Miyajima is home to over 1,000 of these deer and according to Japanese folklore, they were thought to be messengers of the gods. In fact, up until the 1600's, they were considered so sacred that killing a deer was punishable by death. Today they freely roam the streets of Miyajima and are not scared to interact with visitors.

Feeding the deer has become an issue, as the local government have now forbid visitors from feeding the them. Due to the island's increasing population and boom in tourism, the deer's natural food sources has depleted. This has caused them to rely on tourists for food for years. Shops on the island use to even sell food for tourists to feed the deer. Now with that food source being forbidden with no alternative put in place, it has left the deer ravenous, eating anything they can find. In fact, while we were recording a video of the island, one of the deer ate part of my shopping bag. You can read more about this issue on this fellow travel blogger's article. Please keep in mind when visiting this island to properly dispose of non-digestible items such as maps, plastic bags, etc as the deer can get sick if they get a hold of it.

Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen
Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen

The path from the ferry leads directly into town and eventually to the floating torii gate. This large vermillion torii gate is built off the island's shore and stands by its own weight. When the tide rises, the torii's base is surrounded by water, making it appear to be floating. During low tide, you can approach the torii gate by foot.

Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen
Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen

There are so many food choices when visiting Myajima! There are a variety of food vendors all over the island, we wanted to eat everything.

Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen

Pictured: Black Sesame Ice Cream (top).

Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen
Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen

Pictured: Roasted Octopus Legs (left), Lobster Leg (right)

Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen
Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen

Probably one of Miyajima's most popular desserts is Momiji Manju. Momiji manju translates to "Japanese maple". These are basically sweet dumplings with different fillings such as red bean, cheese, chocolate, etc. The ones we got were deep fried and filled with cheese.

Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen
Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen

Another favorite in the Hiroshima area is Okonomiyaki. Okonomi means, "how you like it" and yaki means, "cooked". This dish is basically a Japanese savory pancake with a variety of toppings. The layers typically made of batter, meat, cabbage, noodles, cheese and topped with green onion and okonomiyaki sauce. This is a must-try while you are in Miyajima. Make sure to get some oysters as well!

Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen

Random Fact: Miyajima is also home to the world's biggest rice paddle. This paddle is about 25 feet long, almost 9 feet thick, and weighs over 5000 lbs. It took 3 years to construct and is made from a Zelkova tree.

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Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen
Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen
Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen

Mount Misen is the highest peak on Miyajima. You can get to the top of the mountain by either hiking one of the three trails or taking the ropeway. The ropeway starts at the Momijidani station with two stops at Kayadani Station and Shishi-iwa Station. Shishi-iwa Station is the highest the ropeway will take you and you can see a nice view of the Seto Inland Sea from the Shishi-iwa Observatory.

Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen
Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen
Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen

From the Shishi-iwa Station, you will need to hike a pretty steep trail for about 30 minutes to get to Mount Misen's summit. The view is breathtaking and is worth the hike. Make sure to bring water or buy a drink from one of the vending machines at the ropeway station.

We were getting close to the last call for the rope-way so we hurried back down the summit and jumped on the gondola before the rush. The final return is scheduled for 6:00PM and anyone who misses it will have to to walk through trail through the forest down the mountain, which I was not trying to do. From the bottom station, you can walk down the path back to town, which has many beautiful ponds and gardens.

Miyajima Japan Hiroshima itsukushima floating torii gate deer mount misen
Miyajima-Japan-Hiroshima-itsukushima-floating-torii-gate-deer-mount-missen-33

We decided to stay at a hotel on the island for the night. We booked a room at the Hotel Sakuraya, which was surprisingly inexpensive considering the hotel is very close to the ferry terminal and has views of the ocean. Before we headed back to the hotel, we watched the sunset over the floating gate.

Miyajima was a truly magical city and is one of my favorite cities that we visited on our 6 week trip to Japan. With it's mixture of culture, tasty foods and breathtaking views, it is a city you don't want to miss when visiting Japan. Be sure to add this to your itinerary!



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