Our reporter shares her day of soaking up a little bit of the local marine farming, global cuisine, and a walk through the past. 

The second day of our Japanese-language reporter Mari Morimoto’s recent trip to Hiroshima was centered on Miyajima, a popular island in the Seto Inland Sea just a quick boat ride away from the mainland. While Miyajima is most famous for Itsukushima Shrine and is traditionally considered to be one of Japan’s three most scenic places, there’s more to the island than that famous floating red torii gate. The following is a recap of her day and the three main activities that she enthusiastically recommends to anyone visiting the island.

Oogling the oysters at Shimada Suisan (Shimada Fisheries Oyster Hut)

Mari began her itinerary at Shimada Suisan (Shimada Fisheries Oyster Hut), an oyster farm/restaurant that’s been in operation since the Edo period (1603-1868). The building features a hut-like attachment where diners can sample some of the prefecture’s freshly prepared oysters. Before sampling, however, she signed up to take part in Shimada Suisan’s sightseeing boat tour package to view the oyster farms and Itsukushima Shrine from the water.

Led by actual fisherman, the boat tour arrived at some oyster floats within just a few minutes. She was fascinated by this up-close-and-personal look at how the popular seafood is cultivated.

The boat then took her out just a little bit farther to see Miyajima’s famous shrine and torii gate from a unique angle. Since her first visit to the island seven months ago, this was the first time that she could see the torii in all of its vivid splendor after its restoration work had concluded.

Being out on the water had definitely whetted her appetite. Thankfully, the boat tour concluded by offering participants some Hiroshima-grown oysters back at the hut. They were, she decided, simply divine.

Lunch at a retro Japanese Italian restaurant

Don’t think for a second, however, that Mari filled up on oysters. Rather, they were just the prelude to the next gastronomic stop on her tour–lunch at an Italian restaurant called Les Clos. While it may seem strange to dine at an Italian restaurant with a French name housed in a traditional Japanese wooden townhouse, that blend of global influence is its exact charm.

The menu offers a variety of set courses to choose from but all dishes make use of local, seasonal ingredients and flavors. Mari went with Lunch Course B for 3,900 yen and was delighted with all of the individual dishes that appeared in front of her.

On a trip to Miyajima, Mari highly recommends taking some time to sit down, relax, and sample the freshest of local foods that the island has to offer at Les Clos.

Just sayin’: Walking like a Heian

After filling up with delicious food, Mari was feeling happy as a clam (oyster?). However, there was one more cultural experience that she wanted to try, so she headed over to clothing rental store Miyajima Momiji no Ga (“momiji” is a Japanese-style maple tree and a symbol of Hiroshima). This store offers rentals of male or female kimono stylized after patterns and colors worn in the Heian period (794-1185 AD), an era in Japanese history during which the arts flourished.

She notes that underwear and under-kimono are provided, but visitors can also request a simpler version of the undergarments so that they can wear their regular clothes underneath if they prefer.

Mari was initially nervous about stepping out of the store in her ancient court clothing, but it turned out to be completely fine once she started walking around. In fact, wearing the clothes made her spirits soar and Miyajima seemed all the more vivid.

All in all, the above itinerary made for a full but leisurely day throughout which Mari gained a new appreciation of what Miyajima has to offer.

Her final words of wisdom: Just be careful of the sandwich-stealing black kites and yakuza deer on the island during your visit.

Site information

Shimada Suisan (Shimada Fisheries Oyster Hut) / 島田水産
Address: Hiroshima-ken, Hatsukaichi-shi, Miyajima-guchi Nishi 1-2-6
広島県廿日市市宮島口西 1丁目2-6
Oyster farming and Itsukushima Shrine-viewing boat tour package
Boat tours at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m.
Adults: 2,000 yen (US$15.30), ages 4 through high school-age: 1,000 yen, ages up to 3: free

Miyajima Les Clos / 宮島 レ・クロ
Address: Hiroshima-ken, Hatsukaichi-shi, Miyajima-cho 527-1
広島県廿日市市宮島町 527-1
Open: 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m., 5:00-9:00 p.m.

Miyajima Momiji no Ga / みやじま紅葉の賀
Address: Hiroshima-ken, Hatsukaichi-shi, Miyajima-cho 593, 2nd floor
広島県廿日市市宮島町 593-2階
Limited-time price: 6,600 yen, regular: 8,800 yen,
Length of rental: Maximum 1 hour, 30 minutes
Open: 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Reference: Dive! Hiroshima
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