Japan Calling: Miyajima
Miyajima is one of the most scenic spots in Japan. Here're some sights you shouldn't miss.
Also known as the Island of the Gods, Miyajima is famous for its floating shrine and Grand Torii Gate. Many would think of Miyajima as a destination for a day trip. However, to enjoy the best of the island, you'll have you have to spend a night or two to truly discover this scenic spot.
The beautiful Seto Inland Sea is where the Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located, along with numerous traditional shrines, temples and monuments. Built over 1400 years ago, the Itsukushima shrine floats on the sky blue sea, against the backdrop of the lush forestry.
The Grand Torii Gate, at over 16 metres tall, is a famous sight at Miyajima. The structure you see today was build in 1875. During high tide, the great Torii looks like it is floating on the sea. During low tide, you can venture forth and walk towards the foot of the great Torii.
After all the sightseeing, rest your feet at Café Tamukaima (435-4, Miyajima Machi Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0556, Japan), a cozy little cafe managed by a Japanese couple. Here, you can enjoy their homemade liquor, dessert and coffee, while enjoying the tranquility the back streets of this island has to offer. There's also a retail section hidden within the cafe where you can pick up a gift or two.
Souvenirs are plentiful as there are handicrafts and unique produce that you can pick up around this island. Traditional handicrafts from Miyajima are crafted from time-honoured traditions that are passed down through several generations.
Besides handicrafts, foodies can also look forward to tasting such local produces as oyster, sake, and soy sauce. Most notably, the maple leaf shaped Momiji Manjyu, or sweet bean paste cakes, are a big hit amongst both Japanese and international tourists visiting Miyajima.
There are many inns and ryokans on Miyajima, and the luxurious Kurayado Iroha (589-4 Miyajimacho, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture 739-0559, Japan) ranks as one of the best. Located between Itsukushima Shrine and Miyajima ferry terminal, Iroha incorporates the best of hotel and ryokan. The rooms are spacious and feature designer furniture and fittings. While this Japanese-style inn sports traditional stylings such as tatami mats, you'll find plenty of first-world comforts in the form of plush beds and even a nespresso machine to satisfy your caffeine fix in the comfort of your room.The view from the rooms at Iroha is quite spectacular. You can view the sunset over the famous Grand Torii Gate as the monument towers majestically over the calm sea. I'll also recommend taking a nice, relaxing dip in both the indoor and outdoor bath (onsen) while admiring the view of the sea.
You can relax in the lounge area as well as the bar area while you want to unwind with a glass of champagne or whiskey.
Start your day on the right note with Miyajima’s ryokan breakfast, where seasonal fresh ingredients shine with freshness. To complete the ryokan experience, opt for the kaiseki meal at dinner. The kaiseki meal features locally sourced seafood and seasonal vegetables that are masterfully prepared and artfully presented.
Andrew Tan is the co-founder of Atomi, a Japanese design boutique store in Singapore.
You might also like: