The most famous attraction on MIYAJIMA (宮島), officially known as Itsukushima, is the venerable shrine of Itsukushima-jinja, where the vermilion gate rising grandly out of the sea is considered to be one of Japan’s most beautiful views. The iconic Ō-torii, seemingly floating atop the water, is visible from the shore, while the peaceful Daishō-in keeps a watchful eye from its perch on the hill above.

The shrine and temples clustered around Miyajima’s only village at the northern tip of this long, mountainous island can comfortably be seen in a half-day trip from Hiroshima. If you have more time, there are plenty of other attractions, including beaches to laze on and hikes over Mount Misen, whose summit provides panoramic views across the Inland Sea. Consider splashing out on a night’s accommodation at one of the island’s classy ryokan so that you can enjoy the after-hours atmosphere with only tame deer and a few other guests for company. Autumn is a particularly beautiful time to visit, when the myriad maple trees turn a glorious red and gold, perfectly complementing Itsukushima-jinja.