When visiting Hiroshima, a lot of the cities main attractions are not on the mainland, but instead, are located on several nearby islands that can be reached by different ferries. Okunoshima is one (click here if you want to see all the cute fluffy bunnies you could ever desire) and Itsukushima is another.
Itsukushima has numerous different points of interest, but it is most well known for being the home of Great Torii – a stunningly beautiful water shrine.
Getting to Itsukushima from Hiroshima is a breeze. From Hiroshima Station, jump aboard the JR Sanyo Line (covered by JR Pass) bound for Iwakuni and ride until you reach Miyajimaguchi Station (for approximately 25 minutes) where you disembark the train.
From Miyajimaguchi, exit the train station and walk straight ahead towards the ferry port. The area is well signed and you can’t miss it. There are two different companies offering ferries to and from Itsukushima – JR and Matsudai. If you have a JR Pass – this particular JR ferry is included and will not set you back a cent. If you do not have a JR Pass, the ferry will set you back 180¥ ($2.30) one way. Both companies have numerous vessels and ferries depart around every 15 minutes. The ferry journey is incredibly short and after only 10 minutes at sea you will have docked at Itsukushima.
When I visited Itsukushima, my friend Kaisha and I were on a bit of a time budget as on this particular day, we had to make it onto one of the last bullet trains to Tokyo. As we had limited time, we had planned to get to Itsukushima, head to the water shrine and then had back to Hiroshima so we could make our train.
Sounds pretty straight forward, no?
As it turned out, our trip took a little longer than anticipated due to an unexpected encounter with some unexpected wildlife.
Namely, an unexpected encounter with deer!
Literally as soon as we walked outside of the ferry terminal, we spotted several deer!
I had heard that there were deer living around the temples at Nara, but had no idea that they had made Itsukushima their home too! These beautiful animals were seriously tame and obviously used to humans coming to visit their island home, but though they won’t try to attack you with their majestic antlers (FYI, I originally had this written as ‘deer horns’ and had to ask Google what the correct word was instead of horns… I am an idiot) they will definitely try to obtain anything that they think could be food.
This cheeky devil even tried to eat my top!
I had spent the morning being surrounded by endless bunnies, and was now spending the arvo taking a stroll with a deer – such a day could only happen in Japan!
The island was far more touristy than Okunoshima had been. There were shops, hotels, aquariums, parks and more hiking trails than you could poke a stick at. I can imagine that Itsukushima would be an ideal place for young families to go on a mini-break.
I wasn’t overly interested in the shops (typical tourist fare for the most part) but the deer seemed to be quite keen on doing a little browsing! It was quite funny to watch them try to wander into shops only to have the shopkeepers run and shoo them away.
Bonus picture: Look at this super cute baby deer – I just want to take it home with me!
Once I had gotten my fill of gorgeous deer (at least for the moment) it was time to press onwards and head to the Great Torii Gate – better known as Itsukushima Shrine. This particular shrine is famous because at high tide it looks like it is floating on the surface of the ocean.
Of course, when I visited the temple it was undergoing maintenance (this always happens to me) but despite this, it was still bloody gorgeous.
At low tide you can apparently walk right up to the temple, but aesthetically speaking, I get the feeling that it is much more pretty when it appears to be floating.
After I was done admiring this lovely temple, it was time to catch the ferry back to the mainland and begin the train journey to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
T H E L O W D O W N
Getting to Hiroshima: Though Hiroshima airport is the closest airport to Hiroshima city, it is not a major international hub and it may make more sense to land into Tokyo or Shin-Osaka before making your way there via train
Getting to Itsukushima: From Hiroshima Station, catch the JR Sanyo Line bound for Iwakuni and ride until you reach Miyajimaguchi Station
Itsukushima Shrine: Entrance to the temple costs nothing and the ferry is included with a JR Pass
Threads: My white top and maxi skirt are by the amazing Tigerlily Swimwear
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 lens
Remember: If you have any food, keep it well packed away or the deer may steal it!
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