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How To Spend 2 Days In Hiroshima And Miyajima

2 days in Hiroshima and Miyajima is the perfect amount of time to appreciate Hiroshima’s memorials to the past and experience Miyajima’s beautiful shrines and nature.

These two coastal cities reflect very different sides of Japan’s history. In Hiroshima, memorials show visitors the devastating effects of the WWII atomic bombing. The city reminds the world that peace should never be taken for granted. In Miyajima, you’ll explore Japan’s ancient and religious history. For over a millennium, this island has been a sacred site for Shinto and Buddhism.

I visited Hiroshima and Miyajima recently as a solo weekend trip. They were two of my favorite destinations in Japan yet. Both cities have so much history and I learned a lot about Japan by traveling to them. Thanks to Japan’s advanced transportation system, it was very easy to access Hiroshima and Miyajima as a quick jaunt down from Tokyo.

In this guide, I’ll share my recommendations for how to spend 2 days in Hiroshima and Miyajima.

2 days In Hiroshima & Miyajima

Atomic Bomb Dome scene through the archway of Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima

View of Atomic Bomb Dome (Hiroshima)

View from Mount Misen Observatory

View from Mount Misen (Miyajima)

2 Days In Hiroshima And Miyajima: Itinerary Overview

Continue reading this guide for more details about each location. At a high-level, I suggest the following itinerary for 2 days in Hiroshima and Miyajima:

Day 0: Arrival & Hiroshima

  1. Arrival

  2. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

  3. Peace Memorial Park – Hiroshima

  4. Atomic Bomb Dome

Day 1: Miyajima

  1. Itsukushima Jinja

  2. Senjokaku Pavilion & Five-Storied Pagoda

  3. Mount Misen

  4. Daisho-in Temple

  5. Miyajima Omotesandō Shopping Street

Day 2: Hiroshima & Departure

  1. Hiroshima Castle

  2. Departure

Exploring Hiroshima and Miyajima on your own entails a significant amount of walking (I walked ~20k steps each day). If you prefer to visit the two cities without walking as much, you may want to consider booking an organized tour like this one.

How To Get There

Ferry to Miyajima

Matsudai Ferry to Miyajima

From most parts of Japan, the fastest and most convenient way to reach Hiroshima is by Shinkansen (high-speed bullet train) to Hiroshima Station.

  1. Tokyo to Hiroshima: Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen from Shinagawa Station takes ~4 hours (costs ~¥20,000 one-way)

  2. Osaka to Hiroshima: Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen from Osaka Station takes ~1.5 hours (costs ~¥11,000 one-way)

  3. Kyoto to Hiroshima: Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen from Kyoto Station takes ~1.5 hours (costs ~¥12,000 one-way)

It is also possible to fly to Hiroshima Airport from other major cities in Japan or from a few other Asian cities. However, I generally recommend taking the Shinkansen as it is the quickest option.

To reach Miyajima from Hiroshima, you will either take a direct boat or a train and ferry route.

  1. Direct boat: From Hiroshima Peace Park, take a 45 minute boat ride to Miyajima (¥4,000 roundtrip, 1-2 departures every hour)

  2. Train and ferry: Take the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station or take the tram line #2 from Hiroshima for Miyajimaguchi. From Miyajimaguchi Station, walk to the pier and take a 10 minute ferry ride to Miyajima. There are two competing ferry companies operating the same route: JR and Matsudai (both cost ¥180 one-way). JR Rail Pass includes the JR ferry cost.

Tip: I noticed during my trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima that these two cities had more “cash-only” restaurants and stores than most other places I’ve been to in Japan. I suggest withdrawing at least ¥5,000 extra per person to cover any surprises.

Where To Stay

Motoyasu River

Hiroshima is more urban.

Stream and pedestrian pathway on Miyajima

Miyajima is smaller and has more nature.

You can stay either in Hiroshima or Miyajima during your trip.

Hiroshima is a larger city and more convenient as a base since the Shinkansen arrives and departs from Hiroshima Station. I stayed in Hiroshima during a recent visit to the area and visited Miyajima as a day trip.

Miyajima has many beautiful ryokans (traditional Japanese-style inns) and more surrounding nature than Hiroshima does. If you’re looking for a relaxed overnight stay, perhaps even for a honeymoon, Miyajima is the better choice.

Room inside WeBase Hiroshima

Room inside WeBase Hiroshima

I stayed at WeBase Hiroshima, a simple and centrally-located hostel/hotel. This hotel is a great, inexpensive option for individuals or couples who want to be within walking distance of the main sights in Hiroshima.

If you plan to stay in Hiroshima, I suggest the following hotels:

On Miyajima, I recommend these hotels:


On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over Hiroshima. Hiroshima city estimates 240,000 people died directly or indirectly as a result.

In the decades since, locals rebuilt Hiroshima into a peaceful, waterside city. However, even as the city moves forward, the bombing and its effects are memorialized throughout it.

In my recommended itinerary, I suggest visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Atomic Bomb Dome first because seeing these reminders of the bombing prompt a lot of reflection and sorrow. Visiting Miyajima and Hiroshima Castle later will help bring joy and lightness back to your trip.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

The exterior of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum does a painfully beautiful job of chronicling the very dark, recent history of the city. The museum has dozens of artifacts and photos showing the aftermath of the atomic bomb (many of the images are very graphic and disturbing, so you may want to warn children in advance).

In addition to sharing the factual history of the nuclear event, the museum highlights many personal stories of people who survived or died in the bombing. These brief insights humanize the experience and make it feel very real. The museum also goes into great detail about the dangers of nuclear weapons and makes a clear case to abolish them.

The museum’s layout creates a defined path for visitors with images and texts lining the walls. As a result, it’s not easy to pass people or to traverse sections. I suggest visiting on a weekday or in the early morning to avoid peak crowds.

Admission costs ¥200 for an adult.

Peace Memorial Park – Hiroshima

Atomic Bomb Dome scene through the archway of Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima

Peace Memorial Park connects Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Atomic Bomb Dome. Before the bomb in 1945, the area of Peace Memorial Park was the political and commercial center of Hiroshima. As a result, it was the target of the bombing.

Crane inside Children's Peace Monument

Children’s Peace Monument

The park was built in 1954 on an open field created by the atomic explosion. Several monuments, including the Children’s Peace Monument (pictured above), are spread throughout the park. It takes about 15-20 minutes to walk through the park.

Atomic Bomb Dome

Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, Japan

Atomic Bomb Dome is the ruins of the former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. This is the closest building to the epicenter of the atomic explosion that remained standing. The skeletal building was left as it was after the bombing in memory of the lives lost.

Atomic Bomb Dome is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is free to visit.

Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle was built in the 16th century and was a central location of power in western Japan during the feudal era. Like most buildings in Hiroshima, the castle was completely demolished in 1945 by the atomic bomb.

Over the past few decades, much of Hiroshima Castle has been reconstructed. You can now wander through the castle grounds and observe the surrounding moat in addition to visiting the reconstructed castle.

Admission to the interior of the castle costs ¥370.


View of Miyajima

View of Miyajima’s city area

Miyajima (formerly Itsukushima) literally translates as “shrine island”. This beautiful island in the Seto Inland Sea has a long and storied history as a holy place for Shinto, Japan’s indigenous religion.

Adherents of Shinto have a profound respect for nature, believing that spirits inhabit all natural things. Miyajima’s dramatic landscape with mountains, beaches, and forest has long made people feel that there is a spiritual energy to the island.

In the 6th century, Saeki Kuramoto founded Itsukushima Shrine, the island’s namesake shrine. The island has remained a major holy site and destination for Shinto since that time.

Close-up of deer on Miyajima

Wild deer milling around Miyajima

Today, Miyajima is a popular day trip or weekend getaway destination for Japanese and international tourists alike. You can easily spend a full day visiting shrines, hiking to the top of Mount Misen, trying local foods, and even seeing some friendly wild deer roaming around the island.

Miyajima is one of my favorite destinations in Japan. The island has a wonderful mixture of nature, culture, and history. Despite its beauty, Miyajima is significantly less crowded than more popular and easy-to-access tourist spots in Japan (like Tokyo or Kyoto). Visiting Miyajima is absolutely worth the extra bit of travel required. I strongly recommend spending at least one of your 2 days in Hiroshima and Miyajima on the island.

Itsukushima Jinja

Itsukushima Jinja during high tide

Itsukushima Jinja Otorii during high tide

Miyajima coast during low tide

Itsukushima Jinja Otorii and the nearby coast during low tide

Itsukushima Jinja‘s torii gate (Itsukushima Jinja Otorii) is Miyajima’s most iconic landmark.

The torii gate lies about 200 meters away from the main shrine and is built over water. During high tide, the torii gate appears to float on the Seto Inland Sea. During low tide, visitors can walk directly up to the torii gate.

I suggest visiting the torii gate immediately upon arriving on Miyajima. This is the island’s most visited location and gets crowded later in the day.

Interior of Itsukushima Jinja

The main buildings of Itsukushima Jinja

The main shrine area of Itsukushima Jinja is built on stilts to accommodate high tide in the bay. Admission costs ¥300 for an adult (¥500 for combined access to Treasure Hall). From the main buildings, you can see fantastic views of the torii gate as well.

In the evenings until 11:00PM, the shrine is beautifully illuminated (you can’t enter the shrine, but you can observe it from the shore).

Senjokaku Pavilion & Five-Storied Pagoda

The staircase leading up to Toyokuni Shrine Five-Story Pagoda in Miyajima, Japan

The staircase leading to Senjokaku and the Five-Storied Pagoda

Senjokaku was commissioned in the 16th century as a prayer hall to chant Buddhist sutras for deceased soldiers. The pavilion’s name literally translates to “pavilion of 1,000 mats” since it is approximately the size of 1,000 tatami mats. The open-air hall has no surrounding walls, leading some to believe that it was never completely finished.

The interior of Toyokuni Shrine

You must remove your shoes to enter Senjokaku.

For ¥100, you can walk inside Senjokaku to enjoy the building’s unique architecture and see views of Miyajima. You must remove your shoes to enter the hall.

The red Five-Storied Pagoda towers over Senjokaku. The pagoda was built in 1407, actually before the hall itself. The tower is roughly 30 meters high and can be seen from many different viewpoints on Miyajima.

Mount Misen

View from Mount Misen Observatory

View from Mount Misen Observatory

Mount Misen, Miyajima’s highest peak, offers breathtaking views of the Seto Inland Sea and Miyajima’s coastline. You can either take a ropeway to the top or hike (there are three trail options, each of which takes roughly 1.5-2 hours).

Tip: I recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes even when taking the ropeway as it still requires a fair amount of walking. You need to walk about 800 meters from the town to the base of the ropeway, then another kilometer (with an elevation gain of about 100 meters) from the upper ropeway station to Mount Misen observatory.
Miyajima Ropeway

Miyajima Ropeway

You will ride two ropeways to reach the top station. It costs ¥2,000 roundtrip and takes roughly 20-30 minutes each way, depending on how congested the lines are.

Kiezu-no-hi (Eternal Flame)

Reikado holds Kiezu-no-hi (Eternal Flame)

Several Buddhist structures line the ridge of Mount Misen. Kobo Daishi, one of Japan’s holiest Buddhist monks, is said to have first brought Buddhism to the mountain over 1,200 years ago. A hall of particular note is Reikado, home to a flame that has burned since Kobo Daishi first lit it. Legend says that the sacred water boiled from this flame can cure many kinds of maladies.

Mount Misen Observatory

Mount Misen Observatory

At the pinnacle of Mount Misen is the two-story observatory. You can see incredible views of Miyajima and on clear days, even Hiroshima city. Some hikers bring snacks with them to enjoy a picnic from the observatory or nearby rockface.

Daisho-in Temple

Daishoin in Miyajima

The main buildings of Daisho-in Temple

Daisho-in Temple is a Shingon Buddhist temple at the base of Mount Misen. The sect’s founder, Kobo Daishi, is said to have first began practicing Buddhism on the island at the top of this mountain.

Along the staircase leading to the temple’s central area are dozens of spinning metal wheels inscribed with Buddhist sutras. I saw many visitors running their hands along the wheels as they walking up and down the staircase. Supposedly, you can benefit from the blessings of the inscribed sutras simply by turning them.

The interior of Henjo Cave

Henjo Cave

Several important buildings make up the Daisho-in Temple complex, including Henjo Cave. The cave features 88 statues that represent the temples of the Shikoku Pilgrimage (Shikoku is a nearby large island with a network of Buddhist temples). The cave is dimly lit by rows of lanterns hung from the ceiling.

Rakan statues in Miyajima

Rakan statues

Small Buddha statues with knitted hats on

Bundled Jizo statues

Throughout the Daisho-in Temple grounds, you’ll find many Buddhist statues. If you’re facing the temple, on the left side is an impressive garden of Rakan statues. Each statue is totally unique and represents a Buddhist monk that served the temple.

You’ll also see a number of Jizo statues, small stone statues that look like cherubic children or little Buddhas. Jizo statues are friendly guardians of children and travelers, so you’ll see them softly smiling among moss, bases of trees, and small streams.

Miyajima Omotesando Shopping Street

Miyajima Omotesandō Shopping Street

Walk through Miyajima Omotesando Shopping Street to try some snacks or pick up a few souvenirs. This shopping area spans several blocks in the center of Miyajima’s city area.

Like in many touristy centers of Japan, Miyajima Omotesando Shopping Street has stores that specialize in chopsticks, Japanese kitchenware, and Japan-themed knick knacks. Additionally, you’ll find many local delicacies such as fried oysters and momiji manju (dough shaped like a maple leaf and filled with sweet bean paste).

I recommend trying a variety of little snacks instead of having a sit-down lunch so that you can sample a broader array of dishes.

What To Eat

A bowl of ramen from ラーメン階杉 広島八丁堀店

ラーメン階杉 広島八丁堀店 (Ramen Kaisugi)


📍〒730-0013 Hiroshima, Naka Ward, Hatchobori, 石田第2ビル 1F

For a casual dinner, I recommend Ramen Kaisugi. You pay via a ticket machine at the front then are quickly served your bowl of ramen. They have several ramen and rice sets too if you’re extra hungry.

Lemon sherbet from Cafe Ponte in Hiroshima

Cafe Ponte


📍1 Chome-9-21 Otemachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, 730-0051

Just across the street from Atomic Bomb Dome, Cafe Ponte serves freshly-squeezed orange juice, lunch items, and several ice cream flavors. I tried the Hiroshima lemon sorbet (pictured left).

Okonomiyaki from お好み村3F水軍 in Hiroshima with scallions on top

お好み村 (Okonomi Mura)


📍5-13 Shintenchi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, 730-0034, Japan (3rd floor)

You must try Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. Unlike in the rest of Japan, this style of okonimiyaki has yakisoba (noodles) grilled into it. This casual dish is a favorite among locals.

Taiyaki held in front of Naruto Taiyaki Honpo

Naruto Taiyaki Honpo


📍〒730-0035 Hiroshima, Naka Ward, Hondori, 2−5 claire’s

You can never go wrong with Taiyaki, my favorite Japanese snack. Taiyaki is lightly toasted dough often filled with custard (my filling of choice!), sweet beans, or sweet potato.

Latte and scone from Obscura Coffee Roasters

Obscura Coffee Roasters


📍3-28 Fukuromachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, 730-0036

This modern coffee shop is a bright, relaxing place for a light breakfast. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of Hiroshima Peace Museum.

A hot latte from Miyajima Itsuki Coffee

Miyajima Itsuki Coffee


📍Ōmachi-420 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0588

This centrally located cafe is popular for coffee and soft-serve ice cream. I had a delicious latte here to begin my morning in Miyajima.

Matcha and Japanese sweets from Yukarichaya



📍〒739-0588 Hiroshima, Hatsukaichi, 宮島町260

This stunning traditional teahouse serves matcha alongside Japanese sweets. Enjoy an afternoon pick-me-up while overlooking their luscious Japanese garden.

Grilled oysters from TORII on Miyajima



📍〒739-0521 Hiroshima, Hatsukaichi, Miyajimacho, 大町1144

One of Miyajima’s best known foods are its oysters. Try the grilled oysters from TORII as a break from exploring the island’s temples (this stand is located near Senjokaku).

Lemonade from Momiji Sandwich & Lemonade

Momiji Sandwich & Lemonade


📍357 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima 739-0588

The region around Hiroshima is the largest lemon producer in Japan. Enjoy a fresh lemonade as you walk around Miyajima.

Oyster curry pan from 
宮島咖喱麵麭研究所 held in front of a boat and the water

宮島咖喱麵麭研究所 (Big Set)


📍〒739-0550 Hiroshima, Hatsukaichi, Miyajimacho, 浜之町853-2

This stand serves freshly fried “curry pan” (curry inside dough). I had their bread with an oyster and curry inside, but they also have more traditional fillings like beef curry.

Safe Travels!

I hope you enjoy a wonderful 2 days in Hiroshima and Miyajima exploring and learning about different sides of Japan’s history. In their own ways, these two cities do a wonderful job of honoring the past while also showing how life moves forward.

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