Covered with primeval forest, the sacred, peaceful Misen is Miyajima's highest mountain (530m), and its ascent is the island's finest walk – especially in spring and autumn, when the valley is painted with cherry blossom or autumnal hues. You can avoid most of the uphill climb by taking the two-stage ropeway with its giddying sea views, which leaves you with a 30-minute walk to the top, where there is an excellent observatory.
At the summit observatory, you can kick off your shoes and laze on wooden platforms while enjoying 360-degree views – on clear days you can see across to the mountain ranges of Shikoku.
Close to the summit is a temple where Kōbō Daishi meditated for 100 days, following his return from China in the 9th century. Next to the main temple hall is a flame that's been burning continually since Kōbō Daishi lit it 1200 years ago. From the temple, a path leads down the hillside to Daishō-in and Itsukushima-jinja. The descent takes a little over an hour, or you can take the ropeway back down. While on the mountain you might see monkeys and deer around the ropeway station.
The ropeway station (Momiji-dani Station) to ascend Misen is about a 10-minute walk on from Momiji-dani-kōen, or a few minutes on the free shuttle bus, which runs every 20 minutes from a stop near Iwasō Ryokan.