From Kyoto, it's about 2 hrs. by JR to Hiroshima, another 30 min. will bring you to Miyajimaguchi which is the departing point for ferry to Miyajima. On a tight schedule, you can do Hiroshima and Miyajima in a day from Kyoto if you start early and do not mind getting back to Kyoto late in the evening.
For train schedule, you can plan it using this:
Both of these places require a day by themselves, it would be too rushed to do both.
Take a very short cab ride from Hiroshima station to the Peace Park. Here is their web site for hours and location:
Finish by noon easy and head back to Hiroshima station in a cab. Take the local train (about 30 minutes) to the Miyajima ferry, a 10 minute ferry ride, and you're on Miyajima for lunch. Wander for several hours, back to Hiroshima station, and take a late train back to Kyoto. It's totally doable.
Yes, of course both places are worthy of more time, but even a short visit is worth it if that's all you have.
One day for both places in one day is fine. I just did it this week. You may feel a bit hurried but you will have a chance to experience some really interesting and compelling sightseeing. I'll be posting pictures of the A-bomb dome and Miyajima in the next fee weeks and will provide a link here.
Personally, I find Kyoto to be over-developed, crowded and overrun by tourists. The influx of development and concrete spoils much of the historic splendor of the place. In many ways I find the infrastructure and development to be similar to Tokyo. The US city it most reminds me of is Boston where you might see some historical site such as a grave yard from the Revolutionary War right next to some modern office buildings. The Ministry of Construction appears to have had their way most of the time in Kyoto. That's just my opinion and it may sound cynical but I believe it's pretty accurate based on what I've observed in the past.
Thanks to all for the advice. This is my first trip to Japan and is very last minute so haven't had much time to plan. I have only 6 nights, 2 in Tokyo, 3 in Kyoto and my last in Narita ready for my early flight back home...I think i will try to get to Hiroshima and Miyajima. Although it may be rushed i may not have the opportunity to visit these places otherwise. I may get the train to arrive into Hiroshima for 1001. Is there any advantage to visiting Hiroshima or Miyajima fisrt? I will be there on Sunday 22 Feb, does anyone know if my ferry or train options between Hiroshima-Miyajima will be limited with it being a Sunday?
For the ferry connection, I don't think visiting Miyajima on a Sunday will create any problem. There are 2 services, one run by JR which you can ride for free if you are holding a JR rail pass. If I remember correctly, the last ferry back to the mainland is around 22.20.
Ideally it is best to be in Miyajima during high tide so that the shrine and the off-shore torii seem to be floating on water. For the update tide condition, you can take a look here:
Even if you can't be there during high tide, try to stay in Miyajima after dusk when the island is beautifully lit up. That means it is better to visit Hiroshima in the morning and going to Miyajima in the afternoon. BTW, to save a bit, try to have your lunch in Hiroshima. Restaurants in Miyajima are mostly expensive.
Ok thanks. I looked at the tide schedule and it looks like high tide is after sunset which is unfortunate.
2009-02-22 05:04 JST Moonrise
2009-02-22 06:48 JST Sunrise
2009-02-22 08:41 JST 3.04 meters High Tide
2009-02-22 14:39 JST 1.23 meters Low Tide
2009-02-22 15:20 JST Moonset
2009-02-22 18:00 JST Sunset
2009-02-22 20:12 JST 2.74 meters High Tide
2009-02-23 02:38 JST 0.25 meters Low Tide
i recommend going to Miyashima during the high tide , too. we were there in 2007, first we got there during low tide. it was nice to be able to walk to the "gate".but we spend a night in Hiroshima, and we went back to Miyashima next morning. i had to see the shrine flooting in water! it's beautifull.
and the deers are so cute and entertaining! they'll try to get your food, maps, anything. be carefull!