This is part 1 of this short trip in Japan..
How to get there
The closest and cheapest airport to Miyajima is Iwakuni airport (IWK) - takes just 40 minutes. The next closest is Hiroshima airport, which actually takes a lot longer (1:24). Here's a comparison:
IWK is a very tiny airport, with just 6 departures/arrivals per day to HND and OKA, so the options to get there are quite limited. To minimize the time needed to spend at Miyajima, I opted for the morning flight, which requires me to take the only redeye flight to Japan from the US west coast (LAX-HND).
Then there's a bus that connects from the airport to the JR station, which takes just 15 minutes and timed with the flight arrivals. I dropped my bags at the lockers in the station, then took the JR to Miyajima-guchi, where I can catch the ferry over to the island.
The morning time slot was also picked because I wanted go during high tide, where the tori will look like it's floating. They actually posted the tide schedule for the entire year!
Once at Miyajima, I'll let the pictures do the talking...
I have to say.. the scenes actually look better in pictures than in person :(. Due to the construction on one of the pillar, it didn't look as floating as it should be. In total I spent 1.5 hours there. LOL.
Then I got hungry.. how about some food before heading back to town..
At this point I'm pretty much ready for the next destination, but due to flight schedules, and since I already flew all the way here, why not find something to do..
Some research shows the famous spot in town is this bridge thing.. and it's next to the hotel with the fanciest onsen in town.. (I baller-ed $73 to stay there for a night) but it's kind of middle of nowhere, so meal #2 before it's too late!
Because Iwakuni has a US military base (they actually used part of it as a civilian airport so I can fly in), many restaurant and "bars" have English signs, including this Ramen spot - so nice to have everything labeled in English! And it's good ramen.
Now I'm back to JR Iwakuni station, grabbed my bag, then head over to this famous bridge.. Except Google maps didn't have the local bus routes loaded, so I had to rely on this..
A sneak peek of the bridge, from my hotel elevator.. I'm ready for a soak before moving on (it's a bit hot and humid outside), which also has the view of the bridge if you stand in the onsen................
The hotel itself is a bit dated, not the cleanest, but it's ok for 1 night, though I'm not sure if I'll be back. The onsen was nice though - they got a couple pools to choose from. And of course I did my regular 3x/day soak.
After the soak it's still daytime, so take advantage of that to tour the rest of the stuff, as indicated here:
The bridge was nice - I actually liked it (I like all bridges in general). It's strange they charge an admission fee to cross the bridge...
Everything else - the castle, the park, the ropeway, whatever are a bit dated, and you won't miss much if you don't visit.
My baller hotel also came with free breakfast!! Very nice to have since I skipped dinner the previous night and it's pretty much all you can eat. The best part is the view while you eat....
(Note: I ate more than this)
Transport back to IWK airport
After a short walk around the bridge again, it's time to head back to the airport. I asked the front desk about a shuttle to the airport (listed as complimentary in the hotel description), and she said it's only offered to 2+ people - single haters!! I asked for alternatives and she said no (not even taxis, buses, things I can pay for).
Well, lucky me, there are 2 buses/day that go direct to the airport, and one of them happen to fit my flight schedule well.
Then I got hungry again. I had some time to kill - thankfully it's a beautiful little airport. They charge Y150 for the observation deck with no services and no planes.. but they do have a nice cafe, so I got some food.
Onward to the next stop! Part 2 coming soon...
Don't forget the #avgeek section..