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During the autumn months, many Japanese people endeavour to get outside and enjoy “Koyo”, or autumn leaves, as the colour changes from green to red and then to brown, before falling as winter knocks on the door. For many this time of year is as enjoyable and special as the “Sakura” or cherry blossom season, as both are brief periods during the year where one can appreciate the beautiful nature of Japan. Miyajima, a popular island just a short ferry-ride from Hiroshima City, is home to Mt Misen, where visitors can take the Ropeway to the top to enjoy a hike amongst the gorgeous Koyo, witnessing the stunning temples and spectacular views of Miyajima and its surrounding islands.

At the peak of Mount Misen, Miyajima

Getting to Mt Misen

Miyajima is accessible by ferry from Hiroshima City from providers including JR and Hiroden, and services run frequently throughout the day. The summit of Mt Misen can be accessed via a long hike from the Itsukushima Shrine area, which can take a great deal of time and effort, but can also be accessed by the super-convenient Miyajima Ropeway. An 1800-yen round-trip ropeway ticket takes visitors from Momijidani Station, about a ten-minute walk from Itsukushima Shrine, to Shishiiwa Station, which is fairly close to the summit, allowing you more time to enjoy the beautiful views.

The sign to the Miyajima Misen Ropeway

Miyajima Koyodani station, Miyajima ropeway

Riding the Ropeway

The ropeway cars leave the station approximately every 5-10 minutes, depending on the number of people using it. During the busier periods the wait times can become longer despite the increased frequency of the cars. While quite small and crowded, the cars still allow the opportunity for visitors to gaze upon the breathtaking natural beauty of Miyajima from dizzying heights. You might be able to spot Hiroshima City as well as some surrounding islands during your ascent!

This is the ropeway to go to the top of Mount Misen, Miyajima.

The view from Miyajima ropeway

The view from Miyajima ropeway

Upon alighting at Shishiiwa Station, exit the building and climb the steps to your left, where from the Shishiiwa Oversation you can catch an epic view of some of the islands that surround Miyajima.

At the top of mountain, Miyajima the world heritage site

The observation deck at Mount Misen

The stunning Seto Inland view from Mount Misen, Miyajima

Time to Hike the Mountain!

Trekking to the summit of Mt Misen is relatively simple, yet can take some time. I had originally only budgeted about an hour, as the information I had suggested it would not take very long, but because of some long incline paths, some of which were slippery from sporadic rainfall, I ended up taking close to two hours including the return ropeway journey. My advice is to pack light and wear shoes with good grip, so that you can power through those steep paths.

The hiking trail in Mount Misen, Miyajima

The hiking trail in Mount Misen, Miyajima

The easiest way to navigate the hike is to merely follow the already built path, along with the occasional posted sign pointing visitors in the right direction. When you pass the “Misen Genseirin” statue, a tall, thin engraved piece of stone, you will know that you are heading along the right path. Along the way you should stop by a few shrines, some of which provide benches to take a rest if you become tired.

The easiest way to navigate the hike is to merely follow the already built path, along with the occasional posted sign pointing visitors in the right direction.

At approximately two-thirds the way to the summit, take a short break in front of the stunning “Misen Hondo” and “Reika Do” shrines, each quite unique in structure and design. I have long been a fan of photographing temples and shrines in Japan, so for the likeminded this is a great stop. From here you can actually take a path downward, back towards the bottom, if you are not planning to take the return journey via the ropeway. Around this area are some perfect opportunities to snap some photos of shrines, the gorgeous Koyo, as well as the many strange yet adorable little statues adorning the surrounding rocks, many wearing hats that were perhaps gifted to them by visitors.

Misen Hondo, at Mount Misen, Miyajima

The beautiful pagoda at Mount Misen, Miyajima

The autumn leaves (momiji) at Mount Misen, Miyajiama

The Jizo wearing the cap I saw on the trail in Mount Misen, Miyajima

Continuing on and up some more stairs, you will soon spot “Sanki Do” and “Kannon Do” shrines, which are a little smaller than the previous two. From here on out the terrain becomes a bit rockier, so take care as you progress through the climb. As the path becomes even rockier, some rocky attractions will appear before you – “Kujira Iwa”, a rock known for having a shape like a whale, and “Kuguri Iwa”, a large rocky arch under which you will need to pass in order to get to the top. These are easy to miss but if you stop yourself and spend a little time searching, you will spot them!

The shrine I found at Mount Misen, Miyajima

The hiking trail at Mount Misen, Miyajiama

Soon you should find yourself arriving at the summit of Mt Misen! Otsukare sama desu (good work)! Take your time walking around the observation deck and checking out the crazy views from the top. It can be quite cold at the top, especially outside of the summer months, so make sure to bring something warm with you.

The view from the peak of Mount Misen, Miyajiama

The observation deck at Mount Misen, Miyajiama

The Seto Inland view at Mount Misen, Miyajiama

After absorbing all of the beautiful fresh mountain air, and taking in the awe-inspiring view of Miyajima and its surrounding islands from the top, make your way back to the bottom via your preferred path, and pass by “Dainichi-do” shrine if you have the time. My trip to Mt Misen was definitely not easy, but nowhere near as difficult as something like Mt Fuji. My advice for potential travellers is to pack light, pack warm and bring some solid walking/hiking shoes. It is always worth noting that I did not see any vending machines on the way up, so make sure to bring water and snacks. Good luck and enjoy Mt Misen!

The peaceful rocks where you can enjoy picnic!

For more information about Mt Misen, click here.

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Matt De Sousa

Matt De Sousa

Tokyo-based videographer, photographer, occasional writer and student of Japanese language. Originally from Melbourne, Australia. Lover of all things Dragon Ball.

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