A few tidbits of info that we hope will make your New Year jaunt to Miyajima a memorable one, despite the ongoing pandemic.
Thousands upon thousands of people visit Miyajima over the New Year holidays. It is, of course, crowded, but there is a great atmosphere and it can be great fun to throw yourself into the throng. The great thing about Miyajima is that no matter how many people squeeze into the most popular part of the island, it is relatively easy to find a quiet backstreet or corner in which to chill out.
Before we dive in, however, let’s address the elephant in the room. Miyajima’s iconic “floating shrine gate” is still undergoing renovations which are rumored to continue for many, many more months.
Though it does look quite interesting at night…
If you are going to do Miyajima during the holidays, why not go hardcore and do it on the night of New Year’s Eve? Special ferry and bus services make it possible to check out the Chinkasai Fire Festival early in the evening of New Year’s Eve, hit a few parties in Hiroshima city, call in at Gokoku Shrine and get back to visit Itsukushima Shrine. You could even get to the top of Misen in time to greet the first sunrise of the year. Although, you may need another holiday after all that.
Making the first shrine visit of the year at Itsukushima Shrine is the first order of business for most Japanese visitors to Miyajima, and you can expect looooong lines. You may find yourself waiting up to 2 hours.
There is plenty of other stuff going on to keep you entertained, however, and, our advice is to go with the flow (of the crowds) and enjoy the festival atmosphere.
Getting to Miyajima at New Year
Special New Year’s Eve Trains
|Hiroshima → Miyajima-guchi → Iwakuni|
|Iwakuni → Miyajima-guchi → Hiroshima|
Ferries between Miyajima-guchi and Miyajima Island
JR and Matsudai ferries run almost constantly in the daylight hours of the holidays around every 10 or 15 minutes. JR ferries run all night on New Year’s Eve/Day , though there are only 3 departures 3am-4am and 2 departures per hour between 4am and 5am (at 25min and 55min past the hour).
Miyajima New Year Tide Times
Time your visit to catch the glorious sight of Itsukushima Shrine “floating” on the sea at high tide as well as at low tide when you can walk right out to the torii gate – now under scaffolding due to ongoing renovations.
|Date||High Tides||Low Tides|
New Year is big business on Miyajima so there will be many people willing to take your money off you. As well as the usual shops, cafes and restaurants there are lot of temporary stalls hawking all kinds of food.
- 12/31 06:30-17:00
- 1/1 24:00-18:30
- 1/2 06:30-18:30
- 1/3 06:30-18:30
- 1/4~ 06:30-17:30
Jyoya-no-kane ringing of the temple bell 108 times (to represent 108 worldly desires) is conducted at Daishoin Temple. The first 108 people in line get to do the honors, but you’ll have to be lining up at around 9pm to have a shot at getting a spot. The bell is rung 107 times in the run up to midnight, and one, final time, as the New Year begins, providing event one with a fresh, worldly desire-free, start. People start lining up at about 9pm to secure a turn.
- 1/1 24:00-18:30
- 1/2-4 06:30-18:30
New Year Rituals at Itsukushima Shrine
- 12/31 Chinkasai Fire Festival (report, details)
- 1/1-1/5 Itsukushima Shrine Rituals
- Itsukushima Shrine Tondo Festival
- 1/20 Momotesai Ritual Archery
- Open from 05:00 on New Year’s Day.
- Note that the first shuttle bus to the ropeway station isn’t until 09:50 on 1/1.
- Open as usual 09:00-17:00 daily.