Known as a shrine island, Itsukushima is perched in the Inland Sea of Japan and dates back centuries to the days of Empress Suiko. It features alluring shrines and temples, along with enthralling mountain hiking and a family-friendly aquarium.
Things to do
Don’t miss seeing the sacred Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site established in the 6th century. Go at high tide for the best views of the notorious floating torii gate and Mount Misen in the background, which is one of the Three Views of Japan.
Tucked into the foothills of Mount Misen, Daisho-in Temple harbours some interesting artefacts, such as Buddhist prayer wheels and tengu bird-demon statues. You can also tour a cave showcasing images from the 88 pilgrimage temples in Japan. To ask for good fortune from the Hindu goddess Saraswati, visit Daigan-ji Temple.
Mount Misen towers 500 metres above sea level, offering spectacular views of the Seto Inland Sea. Hike one of three trails leading through the forest and up to the summit, which can take up to two hours, or take the cable-car ropeway. Travelling with the family? Take the kids to Miyajima Aquarium to discover local sea life and a re-created oyster farm.
Oysters are a speciality food in Itsukushima and a prominent menu item at the Yakigaki-no-hayashi eatery. Order them barbecued outdoors or served raw in plates of nama-gaki. Locals often mix oysters with udon noodles or eat them battered and fried in the kaki-furai style.
Hiroshima Airport lies less than 60 kilometres away, where you take a train or rent a car. The town is pedestrian-friendly, but taxis are available for reaching more distant attractions.