Our day trip to Miyajima Island was like a page out of a fairytale book about magical forests and hidden creatures living in harmony amongst mountaintop temples and friendly deer. Honestly, the island is pretty much made up of these three things: forests, temples and deer!
To get there we caught a train from Hiroshima Station to Miyajima-guchi Station and then hopped on a 10 minute ferry from Miyajima Wharf to the island. We arrived in the morning (around 10am) and the island was encased by a swirl of misty fog that was just beginning to disappear so that the peak of Mount Misen appeared above the clouds. It looked like a scene out of Jurassic Park.
On the island you can visit temples, visit little food and trinket stalls in the back streets, see lots of deer wandering around and if you’re up for some *light* exercise, go for a trek up to the top of Mount Misen. We use the word *light* lightly. To do this, you have the option to do a 1 hour, 1.5 hour or 2 hour trek – or you can catch the Ropeway. We chose the 2 hour trek up and while it took a lot of sweat and energy to get up there it was definitely worth it! Along the way we discovered hidden forests and moss-covered boulders, little bridges over streams running down from the mountain, huge trees and even some wild deer watching us from afar. Now we know where all the magical nature scenes from anime and Japanese fairytale stories come from!
The view from the top is pretty epic. As there is usually a lot of cloud and fog in Winter, we got about three different perspectives of the view while up there as the cloud cleared, blue sky emerged and then fog crept over us again. The best is when you’ve got blue skies as you can see right over the city of Hiroshima on the other side of Hiroshima Bay, as well as the mountains surrounding us and a few small islands dotted out to Aki-nada Sea.
The good news is after that giant hike, you can just catch the Ropeway down so the hard part is only on the way up. The Ropeway costs about ¥1000 each way and includes two trips on the way down – one on a communal gondola squeezing around 30 people in and running at 15 minute intervals; and the other on a smaller 8-person gondola where you have a better chance of getting a seat to enjoy the ride down looking out over canopies of trees and mountains.
Definitely a highlight out of our entire trip down south. Make sure you spend a day there (check the weather and go on a sunny day for the best views!)
As the experienced hiker that you are, what are you top tips for climbing Mount Misen? Wear shoes with good grip – those moss-covered rocks can get you when you least expect it. Bring a backpack for water (a must) and carrying layers of clothing as the hike goes on (another essential) – you will get very hot and sweaty towards the top, and we did the hike in Winter! Lastly, don’t wear skinny leg jeans!! The steps get huge towards the top and you need all the knee-lunge-stretch-action-power you can muster to climb them with ease.
What was your favourite part of the hike? The middle part, about one hour in after all we had passed all the pretty wooden bridges and flat walking paths, and ventured deeper into the forest. The trees towered above us and huge mossy rocks and plants surrounded us. So magical!
As the experienced hiker that you are, what are you top tips for climbing Mount Misen? It gets pretty hot…and sweaty… even though it was less than 10 degrees all day. Take a spare shirt to avoid coming down with a cold because of your sweaty clothes. Maybe even bring a towel.
What was your favourite part of the hike?
The top. It was great to get to the top of the mountain and break through the clouds to see the peaks of the other surrounding mountains. I’d love to go a again to see it on a clear day.