Miyajima, a “shrine island”
After you land on the island, try to take a look at the Torii gate and Itsukushima shrine multiple times during the day. At low tide, you can walk all the way up to the Torii gate. At high tide, the Torii gate looks like it’s floating in the water. At sunset, you will be in awe of the beauty of the view.
Miyajima is an island full of activities. If you want to go trekking, there are three different 2-hour hiking paths available on Mount Misen, the island’s holy and highest mountain. If you're going to learn about the island’s history, you can go to the Miyajima Folk Museum. If you want to take a break from touring around, you can pat the people-friendly deer roaming around all over the island or go to the Miyajima Public Aquarium where you can hold starfish and pet penguins. If you want to see more historic buildings, you can go to Gojunoto (Five-Story Pagoda), Shingon Buddhist temples Daisho-in and Daiganji, or the largest building on the island Toyokuni Shrine.
If you want to appreciate their local food to the fullest, Miyajima is famous for their oysters and Momiji Manju, a favorite snack.
Momiji Manju, the most popular cake
The other food that they are famous for is the Momiji Manju, a maple-leaf shaped cake.
Originally, the cake was only filled with smooth sweet bean paste, but over the years the variety of fillings available increased. Now they have mashed sweet bean paste, sweet white bean paste, green tea, cheese, chocolate, chopped up apples, custard cream and other fillings available.
The sponge cake on the outside comes in different tastes too. There are cakes with black bamboo charcoal, those that are icecreams, ones that are deep-fried, and ones that have chocolate icings. There are 20 shops in Miyajima, each with their recipe and own variety of flavors. Among them, the deep fried Momiji Manju on a stick are becoming increasingly popular and has become the trend. While the traditional Momiji Manju can be bought in stores in Hiroshima city, the deeply fried Momiji Manju can only be bought in Miyajima. So don’t forget to give it a shot while you are there!
Try making your own Momiji Manju!
After carefully pulling the cakes out of the pan, you can try putting them in little packages using a machine. That way you don’t necessarily have to eat it on the spot, but could take it home with you or put it in your bag for later. Usually, the pan allows you to make two cakes at once. Anyone older than five years old can try making this treat. Why not experience making the delicious cake as something you can only experience on the island?
For those of you who are interested in arts and crafts, the Miyajima Traditional Crafts Center also displays Miyajima’s traditional works such as engraved trays, tea utensils and clay bells, which are for sale. You can also experience creating your own Shakushi (rice scoop) for 400 yen and Miyajima carving for 1,900 yen from instructors who will help you with your creation.
The word “Momiji” translates to “maple tree” as well as “foliage.” 200 maple trees are planted in Maple valley park, and they change to a beautiful crimson in autumn. This is one of the best spots to go to if you want to see maple leaves turn color without much hiking. Usually, autumn arrives in Miyajima at around mid-October and lasts for two months.
Photos of Momiji Manju
How to visit?
1165-2 Miyajima-cho Hatsukaiti-shi, Hiroshima 739-0505 (Miyajima Traditional Crafts Center)
Tel：+81-829-44-1758 (Miyajima Traditional Crafts Center)