Iwakuni to Hiroshima
Distance: 33 miles
Total Distance:257 miles
Photo Gallery

The great torii at Miyajima Shrine

The Great Torii at Miyajima Shrine

Hi everyone! We’re here in the beautiful city of Hiroshima, after a full day of riding and sightseeing. We got up early in the morning in Iwakuni (a little over 30 miles from Hiroshima) and took some time to get online. We’ve found it difficult to find time to go to internet cafes here, so we definitely take advantage whenever a hostel has free wireless! After updating the blog and answering emails, we headed out to see the Kintaikyo bridge in Iwakuni before getting on the road.

This bridge is a very well preserved example of a traditional construction method that used little or no metal to hold the pieces together. Up close, the details of the workmanship are quite impressive! The arches in each span are actually quite steep, so the lower parts are actually stairs, while the upper parts are smooth walkways. I’m sure this made it hard to gets carts of goods across!

The Kintaikyo Bridge in Iwakuni

The Kintaikyo Bridge at Iwakuni

Walking over the Kintaikyo Bridge

Walking across the Kintaikyo Bridge

We soon headed out for Hiroshima, with plans to stop for a while at Miyajima in the early afternoon. Unfortunately, the only road we could take between the two cities was busy, narrow, and filled with trucks. Unlike most of the roads we have been on so far, this one had little or no bike lanes, so we were constantly forced to pull over onto sidewalks or drainage channels to let traffic pass. After a few hours of this, we were glad to pull into the town of Miyajima-guchi.

The Miyajima shrine is located on a large island just off the coast–to get there, you take a short 10 minute ferry ride. We met a nice man on the ferry who was very impressed with our bikes, and hoped that we would enjoy Miyajima, as it was the “pride of our people”. Once you get off the ferry, you are almost immediately surrounded by deer! These animals are considered sacred by the Shinto religion, so they are allowed to wander freely around major spiritual centers like Nara and Miyajima.

A proud Hiroshima banker

A happy banker from Hiroshima


Sacred deer!

Word to the wise: if your schedule is flexible, check a tide table before visiting Miyajima shrine. If you want to walk out and touch the great torii, then go when the tide is low; if you’d rather see the effect of the torii and shrine floating on the water (much better for pictures), then go when it’s high. We were able to walk out and get some pictures up close, which was a nice experience–it’s a little surreal being able physically touch something that is such a classic symbol of Japan. A couple of things that stuck in my mind: the distinct growth lines in the the tree trunks that formed the two main pillars of the gate, and the barnacle encrusted coins that people had stuck into the gate years ago for good luck.

View of the torii looking back to the shrine

View towards the shrine

Close up of the main pillars

One of the gate's main pillars

Since we didn’t have much time, Vicky and I didn’t enter the actual shrine, but took a roundabout route back to the ferry landing. Once back on the mainland, we settled in for another few hours of riding down that same busy highway into Hiroshima.

At long last, we entered the main part of the city–the rest of the day’s ride to Hiroshima Station was quite enjoyable. The city is very pretty, with wide tree-lined boulevards, and many more public spaces than in other Japanese cities. The numerous rivers and unique bridges add to the effect, making it seem more relaxed despite the packed sidewalks and roads.

For once, we had no problem finding a place to stay, and we were soon settled in at a hostel near the main train station. Now that we’ve had a nice hot shower (our third in three days!), we’re ready to wake up and do some real sightseeing. We’re both looking forward to being regular tourists for a day, especially since there are so many significant places to see here.