Miyajima (宮島), officially known as Itsukushima (厳島), is a small island with towering mountains, the floating Itsukushima Shrine, and the great floating torii gate to welcome its visitors. Historically referred to as the Island of Gods, this enchanting island is less than an hour outside of Hiroshima City. Having traveled to the island many times in the past and even hiking to the top of the sacred Mt. Misen, it is easy to understand why it is ranked as one of Japan’s three best views.
While officially named Itsukushima, the island is more commonly referred to as Miyajima, literally the “shrine island.” Surviving many disasters since the 6th century, Itsukushima Shrine can be credited for influencing the island’s adopted name. During high tide, the shrine and its great torii gate are given the grand illusion of floating on water. When the tide rolls out tourists can roll in and get up close in personal with both the magnificent torii gate and the shrine it’s supposed to be protecting.
Itsukushima Shrine is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Japanese government has designated several buildings and possessions as National Treasures. Also housed in the island’s Omotesando Arcade is Oshakushi, the world’s largest rice paddle weighing in at a hefty 2.5 tons. The island is also famous for the many wild deer that approach tourists seeking food, as well as its momiji manju and oysters.