Natural and spiritual splendor on Miyajima’s Mt. Misen

GetHiroshima

Feb 2, 2019

Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima, about 20km west of central Hiroshima, is famous for being constructed over the water so as not defile the purity of the island which has long been considered sacred in of itself. Mt. Misen which, at 535m, dominates the island, is also of considerable religious significance. The lower slopes of virgin forest are part of the UNESCO World Heritage designated zone around Itsukushima Shrine. Just below the summit are a collection of worship sites that exemplify the complex and intertwined nature of Buddhism and Shinto in Japan, and the summit itself is covered by impressive boulders that have long been objects of worship themselves.

What strikes the visitor unversed in Japan’s complex religious landscape and history, however, is the beauty of the mountain. The lower slopes are incredibly verdant and soothing. As you get higher, the forests are punctuated by huge rocks, many of which have been given interesting names, such as the huge “whale rock.”

Although the trails can get busy on Sundays, National Holidays and during the autumn leaf viewing season, if you love the outdoors, the hike up to Mt. Misen is usually a welcome escape from the Japan’s busy urban centers. There is nothing more pleasant than taking in the view while enjoying the breeze as you stretch out on the platform of the beautifully designed wooden observation deck at the summit.

For hikers, there are three main routes up Mt. Misen. The Daishoin Route starts from Daishoin Temple (well worth visit by itself) and passes through the Niomon Gate takes 90-120min. The Momiji-dani Course takes about the same amount of time and starts just beyond Miyajima’s beautiful Momiji-dani Maple Valley Park. The Omoto Route is the longest and takes 2-2.5hrs to complete and starts from Omoto Park, beyond the Miyajima Aquarium.

Those who want to enjoy the views from the summit without a long hike, can take the Miyajima Ropeway. Be aware, however, that once you get off the ropeway you still have a 30-40min walk to the summit which is quite steep in parts.

Pick up a guide map at the tourist information office and be sure to ask about current trail conditions. Carrying plenty of water is highly recommended, especially during the warmer months.

Mt. Misen

Address: Miyajiama-cho, Hatsukaichi-shi

Website: http://www.miyajima.or.jp/english/spot/spot_misen.html

Phone: +81-829-44-2011 (Miyajima Tourist Association)

Best season: Autumn

Ropeway fee:

Round trip Adults ¥1,800 (Under the elementary school students ¥900)

One way Adults ¥1,000 (Under the elementary school students One way ¥500)

http://miyajima-ropeway.info/en/ropeway-fares-and-hours/index.html

Mt. Misen Observatory Open 10:00-16:00

Toilets open 24 hours

Information about transport passes:

Visit Hiroshima Tourist Pass

http://www.hiroden.co.jp/en/e-vhtp.html

JR-WEST RAIL PASS

https://www.westjr.co.jp/global/en/ticket/pass/

*Information is correct as of January 2019.

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