Miyajima Island near Hiroshima, Japan is full of not-to-miss sightseeing spots. Summiting Mt. Misen, the highest point on Miyajima, is no exception, and the views are definitely worth the climb up.
While most people choose to take the Miyajima Ropeway to reach the summit of Mt. Misen, there are nice hiking trails to take you can take up to the top too.
Mt. Misen Hike Overview
- Distance: 2.5 km up, 2.5 km down
- Time: 1 hour up, 1 hour at both viewpoints, 40 minutes down
- Facilities: Restrooms, air conditioning, vending machines, coin lockers and small cafe at the Shishiwa gondola station. Restrooms and a large shaded area at the Mt. Misen observatory
- Difficulty: Easy. This trek is non-strenuous, short, and has many benches to rest on. The most difficult part for me was the heat and humidity of summer in Japan.
Is Hiking Mt. Misen Worth It?
Yes! Getting to the top of Mt. Misen is definitely worth the views. The easy way is taking the gondola, but to climb up one of the mountain trails is worth the effort too.
Images of quiet temples, red torii gates, and colorful autumn colors may come to mind when thinking of Miyajima. Being on top of Mt. Misen however, you’ll see the deep blue ocean around you and many small islands bulging out the horizon.
It’s easy to remember here that Japan is in fact an island country, consisting of over 6000 islands!
Passing Through Momijidani Park
Momojidani Park is halfway to the Miyajima Ropeway station from town, and a picturesque stroll. Most famous in the autumn for its color-changing Japanese maple leaves, the park is still beautiful in any season.
The scenery is like a natural Japanese garden, with a brilliant red bridge over a stream and many moss-covered stones. I even met a baby deer and its mom having a snack in the bushes. When the weather is nice, it would be a great place to have a picnic.
After passing through the park, you have to make a choice: take the ropeway, or climb Mt. Misen.
Taking the Miyajima Ropeway to Mt. Misen Summit
For those on a half-day trip to Miyajima, it’s best to take the ropeway up to the summit of Mt. Misen. If you want to skip the walk through Momijidani Park, there is a free shuttle bus that takes you from just behind Itsukushima Shrine to Momijidani Station.
From town, it only takes 7 minutes on foot to reach the Miyajima Ropeway station if you “run a little” 🙂
There are two different kinds of gondolas that you take up to the Mt. Misen summit. The first gondola is the circulating type. Similar to a ski lift, several gondolas rotate around the circular course. The second gondola is a funicular type, where there are only two gondolas that alternate straight up and down.
Round-trip tickets cost 1800 yen for adults (12 and over), 900 yen for children. One-way tickets (if you want to walk down), cost 1000 yen for adults and 500 yen for children.
Total riding time is 14 minutes, with up to a 15-minute wait at the middle Kayatani station to switch gondolas.
Mt. Misen Hike: The Three Hiking Routes
There are three paths to climb Mt. Misen, the Momijidani Course (recommended for going up), the Daishoin Course (recommended for going down) an the roundabout Omoto Course which takes you to the Miyajima Aquarium.
I hiked up the Momijidani Course, then came back down the Daishoin Course. On the outskirts of town lies the Daishoin Temple, which is another must-see temple complex on Miyajima. The Daishoin Course takes you right to the base of the temples, so it’s a great final stop on your Mt. Misen climb and descent.
How long does it take to climb Mt. Misen?
The Miyajima Guide Maps overestimate how long it will take to reach the summit. It took less than one hour for me to hike from Momijidani Station to the Shishiwa Station viewpoint.
On the way down, it took about 40 minutes to reach Daishoin Temple from the Mt. Misen Observatory.
The Momijidani Course Up Mt. Misen
The Momojidani Course starts near the Momijidani gondola station and delves straight into a forest canopy. Even in the heat of summer when I visited, the majority of the trail was shaded from the trees.
The path was very easy to follow, with many stairs and benches built along the way. There are signs about every 100 meters that kindly let you know how far you have to go to reach the top. Although the path is mostly uphill, the climb isn’t too strenuous.
If you’re climbing Mt. Misen in the summer, be sure to bring lots of water with you, or change to buy cold water from a vending machine at the summit.
A Fork in the Road
Before the “2.5km remaining” signs reach zero, you’ll reach a fork in the road. You’re given a choice between heading to the ropeway, or to the top of Mt. Misen.
My advice: head to the ropeway first!
Mt. Misen Ropeway Station Viewpoint
At the ropeway station is a beautiful viewpoint of the surrounding islands. The large station building also has many facilities available to use including bathrooms, a large air-conditioned room, vending machines and a cafe.
If you’re hot and sweaty from your climb up Mt. Misen, the ropeway station is the perfect place to cool down and take a break.
Top of Mt. Misen Observatory and Viewpoint
From the ropeway station viewpoint, it’s a short walk back to the fork in the road. 10 minutes or so down the path is a temple complex where you can take a rest at. It’s home to the Reikado Hall, also known as “Lover’s Sanctuary”, and two smaller halls. You can buy omikugi fortunes here with your significant other to commemorate your trip together. There are also several baby buddha statues that travelers had lovingly placed lost sunglasses on.
After ducking through a rock tunnel, you’ll arrive at the Mt. Misen Observatory building.
There are three levels to the observatory. A lower bathroom level, a middle, shaded level filled with platforms to rest on, and a top panorama viewpoint level. Because of the cool breeze blowing through the observatory, the middle shaded level is a great place to have a rest and a picnic. There were some weary travelers who had even brought books and were in total lounge-mode at the observatory.
The top level is hot, but gives you unimpeded views of the surrounding forest and islands. The Mt. Misen observatory is a great place for a photo opp, but also to hang out for an hour or more.
Descending from Mt. Misen to Daishoin Temple
From the Mt. Misen Observatory, it took me about 40 minutes to descend to Daishoin Temple.
There are a few small temples that you can detour to see, including the Miyajima Shrine and the Okunoin Temple. You’ll pass a small waterfall before you’re bound to start hearing bells ringing or drums beating from the Daishoin Temple.
Daishoin Temple is yet another spot that you should not miss during your Miyajima itinerary. There are several stairs that you need to climb however, so it’s possible to rest in town before heading back to Daishoin Temple. Just past Daishoin Temple is the main Miyajima town, so once you’ve reached the temple you’ve completed your Mt. Misen hike!