Miyajima Visitor Tax starts October 1

Tourists and visitors to the island of Miyajima will be have to pay a little extra from October 1, a new visitor tax comes into effect.

Hatsukaichi City government is introducing the new tax, it says, “to maintain the environment, encourage cultural understanding, promote ecotourism, and more” of Miyajima island, part of which was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996.

From October 1, everyone over preschool age, except residents and people who work on Miyajima, will have to pay an extra ¥100 before they board a ferry to the island.

Miyajima has long been one of Japan’s top tourist destinations. It has been on the bucket list of domestic travelers since it was chosen by 17th century scholar Hayashi Gahō as one of Japan’s three most beautiful views, and visitors from overseas flock to the sacred island in increasingly large numbers to snap a selfie with its iconic “floating” shrine gate.

Although tourism is the foundation of Miyajima’s economy and the island suffered greatly during the Covid-19 pandemic, similar to parts of Kyoto, feeling the effects of it is what has been coined overtourism.

At just ¥100 per person, per visit, the visitor tax doesn’t seem to aim at reducing the numbers of visitors, but to subsidize maintenance of tourism infrastructure and improve the experience of visitors.

Possible uses of the revenue raised from the tax listed on the Miyajima Visitor Tax website Another 1000 Years Miyajima include:

  • Maintaining tourism information desks and restrooms.
  • Managing the Mt. Misen Observatory and hiking trails.
  • Preserving cultural assets and historical architecture.
  • Managing the History and Folklore Museum.
  • Promoting ecotourism.
  • Installing water servers.

All sound like worthy uses of the money and, surely few visitors will complain (especially those from countries with favorable exchange rates). We are particularly happy about the prospect of water servers being installed so that visitors can fill up their own water bottles instead of having to resort to buying copious amounts of bottled water. It will be interesting, however, to see how the money is spent and how transparent the local government is about it.

Miyajima Visitor Tax Essentials

How much is the Miyajima Visitor Tax?

100 yen per person, per visit.

Who has to pay the Miyajima Visitor Tax?

All visitors of school age and up are required to pay the tax.

When does the Miyajima Visitor Tax come into effect?
October 1, 2023.

How do you pay the Miyajima Visitor Tax?
The 100 yen tax will be included when you buy a ferry ticket from the ticket machine at Miyajima-guchi Port.

The 100 yen tax will be included when you use an IC Card to pay for your ferry journey using automatic ticket gates at Miyajima-guchi Port.

What about Japan Rail Pass holders using the JR Ferry to Miyajima?
JR Rail Pass holders will be required to pay a 100 yen surcharge before they board the JR Ferry and show proof of purchase at the same time as they show their pass. It is unclear how they will pay – we imagine either at the ticket machine or ticket window. Japan Rail Pass holders will have to pay their ¥100 tax at ticket machines at the port, so the board process will be a little less smooth than in the past.

Are there any discounts available?
An annual fee of 500 yen can be paid at Hatsukaichi City Hall, Hatsukaichi City Hall Branch Offices in Miyajima and Ono, or through the Hatsukaichi City official LINE account. Details in Japanese (machine translation button available) here.