There’s nothing quite like being able to wander the quiet backstreets of one of the most famous islands in Japan after (and before) the crowds of people. Mikuniya guesthouse offers a chance to experience after-hours Miyajima while enjoying a stay in a beautiful, traditional Japanese guesthouse.
To make the most of a stay on Miyajima, make sure you wander the quiet streets at dusk and before 10am in the morning to enjoy the magical island at its most peaceful. Mikuniya is in a great location, it is up a side street on a small hill near the Daishoin temple. It is a quiet area offering some nice views as the facility is surrounded by trees and there is a nice grassy garden. Mikuniya is run by a retired social studies teacher who has a passion for travel and antiques. You can admire many of his beautiful antique decorations around the guesthouse. You can really feel like you are escaping the hustle and bustle of city life here despite only being an hour away.
I have had the pleasure to stay at Mikuniya more than once and was very impressed. The rooms are equipped with quality furnishing, air-conditioning/heating, sinks, bedding and nearby toilets and bathing facilities. The bedding available is high quality Japanese futons to use on top of the tatami (straw) mats as well as in the wooden bunk beds.
There is a sitting area next to the window, sink and refrigerator in each room. There are pleasant views of the bay (but not the Tori gate or any of the famous sights) trees, and surrounding guesthouses from the 2nd floor. The main, first floor common room and the tatami mat dorm rooms on the ground floor have pleasant views of the garden.
There are only 4 guest rooms so it is often booked well in advance over the weekend or holidays, so book as far in advance as possible to secure your room. There is a large tatami room on the ground floor that can be rented for meetings (4 hour blocks of time) or group meals (up to 25 people).
There are a few toilets on each floor, showers on the first floor and showers and a common bath on the second floor which is filled in the evening for use and segregated by gender and can be locked during use. The first floor facilities include a kitchen, refrigerator and dining area. You can see the view from the second floor guest rooms in the picture to the right.
This can be considered a self-catering bed & breakfast as here are a few boxes of cereal, breads for toast and other foods and snacks are often available that you can help yourself to while you are there. There is also free coffee available. I would recommend that you also bring some of your own foods if you are big eaters, have a special diet or if you plan to eat at the guesthouse for lunch and dinner as well. There are few options of places to eat or drink after dark or before 10am on the island.
There is free WiFi available as well as a DVD player and TV in the common room. You can check in anytime after 3pm and check out by 10am. It’s possible to leave bags at the front desk for the day after check-out if you still want to enjoy the island for the day before heading home.
Prices and Booking
There is a basic 4,000 yen charge per person per night no matter which room you book. Single beds are available for ¥4,000 per night in the female or male dorm rooms. You can book a private room for ¥8,000~16,000 per night depending on the size of the room. If you are sharing a room with a child aged 5 or younger, who will share your bedding, they are free of charge. You can book and pay a deposit (in dollars, British pounds or Euros) to hold your reservation online through HostelWorld or contact the owner to make a booking by email: email@example.com (24 hours) in English or Japanese.
The area around Mikuniya is charming Miyajima backstreets and forests. At the top of their road is access to the forest park, along the street are grilled conger eel vendors and restaurants (local specialty) and there is a fantastic maple leaf shaped Momijimanju cakes vendor. If you head left there is a nice coffee shop and head straight to the mysterious, serene and beautiful Daishoin Buddhist temple. If you head right at the momiji cake shop, keep heading right through the back streets to restaurants, food stalls, souvenir shops and a great coffee shop. Head left through the tunnel, then right to find a small grocery store and a few hundred meters past is the great Kubota liquor shop. The Miyajima aquarium, floating Itsukushima shrine, giant Tori gate and the shopping and eating street are only a short 10 minute walk away.
The first time we went we battled the heavy traffic on Rt 2 over a weekend and couldn’t find parking on the main side, so ended up taking the car-ferry over to the island (around ¥2,500 round trip) with all of our gear and food to stay for a long weekend. There is some parking at the port area of Miyajima (¥1,000/day) if you can’t find any free spaces.
If you choose to leave the car on the mainland side it also costs 1,000 yen/day and is quite hard to get spaces on weekends and holidays (especially if there is a festival or on the weekends or holidays in Spring and Autumn). The second time we went, we took the ferry from the Marina Hop shopping mall which offers free parking and a smaller boat ferry service to Miyajima island. This was a lot easier to beat the traffic and we were able to roll on our luggage and cooler box without a problem. The cheapest option is to go by JR train from Hiroshima station or streetcar from the city center and make the easy connection to the Miyajima ferry.