Japan

Miyajima, Japan

Itsukushima is an island in the Inland Sea of Japan. It is popularly known as Miyajima, the Shrine Island. It is mountainous and sparsely settled, and only 12 square miles in size. There are no cities, only small towns with simple houses and privately-owned shops – photographed below by Michael.

Street scene, Miyajima, Japan
Street scene, Miyajima, Japan

Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on the island. The shrine is dedicated to the three daughters of the Shinto deity Susano-o no Mikoto, brother of the great sun deity, Amaterasu. The first shrine buildings were probably erected in the 6th century, and the shrine has been destroyed many times. The present shrine dates from the mid-16th century, having been rebuilt in keeping with its earlier 12th century design.

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima, Japan
Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima, Japan
A pagoda on the Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima, Japan
A pagoda on the Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima, Japan
A shrine in Miyajima, Japan
A shrine in Miyajima, Japan

The dramatic gate (torii) of Itsukushima Shrine is one of Japan’s most popular tourist attractions. Commoners were historically not allowed to set foot on the island, and had to approach by boat, entering through the gate that appears to float. The gate has existed since 1168, though the current gate dates back to 1875. The gate, built of camphor wood, is about 16 metres high and was built in a four-legged style to provide additional stability. The gate only appears to be floating at high tide; when the tide is low, the gate is surrounded by mud and can be accessed by foot from the island.

Torii in sea, Miyajima, Japan
Torii in sea, Miyajima, Japan
Torii in sea, Miyajima, Japan
Torii in sea, Miyajima, Japan
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