Wandering Japan: from Kanazawa to Hiroshima
When our little ones were 17 months old we decided that was time to start again the serious travels and we brought them to Japan.
This post is covering the third part of our trip, focusing in the time we spent in Miyajima and Hiroshima, coming from Kanazawa.
As a recap here our 17 days long itinerary:
Day 1: Flight London-Tokyo
Day 2: Tokyo
Day 3: Tokyo
Day 4: Tokyo
Day 5: Tokyo
Day 6: Day trip to Nikko (1st day of the Japan Rail Pass)
Day 7: Tokyo
Day 8: Tokyo – Snow Monkey Park
Day 9: Snow Monkey Park – Kanazawa
Day 10: Kanazawa
Day 11: Kanazawa – Miyajima
Day 12: Miyajima/Hiroshima – Kyoto(last day of the Japan rail pass)
Day 13: Kyoto
Day 14: Kyoto
Day 15: Kyoto
Day 16: Kyoto – Tokyo
Day 17: Flight back
If you want to know more about how to organize your time in Tokyo you can read : How to enjoy Tokyo with under 2s. If you like the idea to go and visit the Snow Monkey Park in my article: On the road from Tokyo to Kanazawa you will find all useful info. Last but not least if you want to plan a successful and stress free trip to japan head to : 10 tips to make a trip to Japan with 17 months old twins stress free.
How we got from Kanazawa to Miyajima
Our 11th day in Japan had us facing the longest transfer of this trip and we were a bit worried about how the boys would react to such a long journey, well everything went exceptionally well!
We started (running as usual) on the 9.03 train arriving at 11:32 in Osaka, where after buying a lovely bento box we boarded the 12:09 train arriving in Hiroshima at 13:36
Our journey was not stopping there, we still had to take the JR Sanyo line at 13:45 for Onoura, where we would arrive at 14:13 at Myajimaguchi . Once there it is really easy to spot where to go from the train…you just follow the crowd!!! At 14:25 we took the JR ferry and in only 10 min we finally arrived in Miyajima.
That was a journey!!! But dont be scared is absolutely doable, the trains always have a lot of space so kids can play and the time is passing easily. Before leaving our hotel in Kanazawa we used the takkyubin service and sent our luggage to Kyoto, the fact that we only had one bag and 1 backpack with us made the changes of train/ferry much smoother, and along the way we always found lifts to make the transition easy.
Miyajima is really touristic but it is also really beautiful so it’s really worth the journey!
Where we stayed
As a base we choose Mizuhaso, a little hotel at the far end of the touristic area (so consider another 15+ minutes walking), where the rate includes breakfast and dinner. The hotel is minimal and with only few rooms. The rooms are well kept, we had a twin room and the bed would have been big enough to share with a small child.
When you book, the website mentions a shared bathroom, but you do have a private little bathroom with sink and toilet. What they call the shared bathroom is the in house Onsen bath. There are 2 available and you can lock yourself in so you can fully relax.
Dinner was lovely, it was a kaisei experience and we were really happy to have it, considering that during this trip we did not manage to book any high end restaurants because in most of them there is minimum age restriction (12 years old).
The hotel is small, so we felt confident to leave the boys sleeping in the room while we had dinner downstairs; to do so, we usually connect to wifi with our phones, then I phone Mark over what’s app and we leave the phone in the room. This is a practical way to avoid bringing a monitor with us but still able to always hear if the boys wake up or cry.
Accomodation in Miyajima was not cheap, but the first time you go there it really pays to stay on the island.
What to do
After leaving our bag at the reception (no check-in time yet!!!), we immediately went out to see the many shrines, temples, friendly deer and the major attraction: the ”great Torii” Itsukushima Shrine, a gate built in the middle of the sea which can be reached on foot only when there is low tide.
The island was full of daily tourists, so just moving around took time, but the main attractions are all close by each other. The afternoon was enough to visit the great Torii, the five-storey Pagoda, the omotesando street full of shops, and the Daisho-in temple. We would have liked to go up Mount Misen, but we didnt have enough time.
After dinner our day ended with a relaxing bath in the Onsen and so in the morning fully refreshed we were ready to explore Hiroshima!
Hiroshima in 6 hours
Day 12 was another big day. We started with a nice breakfast in the hotel (they had high chairs so it was easy to entertain Liam and Santiago with some food while we were eating. After quickly packing the cots and dodging through the many people already arriving on the island, we made our way to the ferry to get back to the mainland.
HOT TIP: the JR ferry going to Myajimaguchi is the cheapest option to go back to Hiroshima (ferry is included in the Japan rail pass), but I decided that for us it was better to pay the much more expensive service offered from aqua-net , because it is going directly from Miyajima to the Peace Memorial Park in 40mins or so! At the time it cost Y2000 each roughly £15. We had little time in Hiroshima so for us it was the best way to optimize our time.
When we arrived the first thing we did it was to leave the luggage at the Peace Museum where there are coin lockers big enough for luggage (100 Yen). We didn’t visit the museum immeditely but first went out and explored the peace park grounds. The area is big with many symbols/museums and monuments to see.
HOT TIP: if like us you are only spending a day in Hiroshima the lockers available at the Peace Museum are the perfect solution to leave your stuff and move around freely!
There were many school kids visiting the museum and the areas around; small children learning pieces of a history I wish we never wrote but, contrary to my expectations, the feeling you get from Hiroshima is of a relaxed city full of life that put the past on a side and looks to the future.
After wandering around and taking out some ramen from the famous Nagata-Ya (thankfully they do take away because there was a long queue outside) we managed to have Liam and Santiago fall asleep and we ventured in the Peace Museum.
I was a bit concerned about the visit, I’m always getting too emotional in these situations, but maybe because I was prepared or maybe because it was packed with people and kids and so wasn’t easy to really get the feeling of what I was reading in the end i managed quite well.
I found it much more difficult to listen to the reading in the hall of remembrance, of stories collected shortly after the bomb with memories of the survivors…some were so touching that I couldn’t help myself but to cry.
The time we had in Hiroshima gave us just a glimpse of it, next time if possible I will spend at least one night there.
At 4pm it was time to rescue our bag from the lockers and take the bus to the station.
HOT TIP: to get to the train station you can take the loop bus lemon route (loop bus is included in the JR pass) from beside the museum, that’s what we have done, or tram #2 from gembaku dome-mae station (in front of the A-Bomb Dome)
At 4:22pm our Shinkansen sakura train departed bringing us to osaka and after a fast change there to hop on the shinkansen kodama we arrived in Kyoto just after 6pm
You can read more about our Japan adventure in Best to do in 4 days in Kyoto with toddlers.
I really enjoyed our time in Miyajima and Hiroshima and I would definitely recommend it. Ideally it would be good to dedicate a night in Miyajima and 1 night at least in Hiroshima. There are many great things to see that we unfortunately haven’t had time to check out! let me know in the comment if you have been and what I shouldn’t miss next time!