Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima
The name of this island is actually Itsukushima, but it’s most commonly known as Miyajima or Shrine Island for its famous “floating” O-torii, one of Japan’s most popular tourist attractions. Miyajima is just off the coast of Hiroshima Prefecture, a 20 minute ferry ride from the mainland.
Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine dating back to the 6th century, though it’s been destroyed and rebuilt a few times since then. The present shrine dates from the mid-16th century, but follows the design laid down four centuries earlier. Because the island is considered sacred, commoners were forbidden from setting foot on the island until relatively recently. Building the shrine on pier-like supports gives the impression, when the tide is in, that the shrine is floating on water and is separate from the island itself. This ambiguity allowed devout pilgrims to approach whilst maintaining the purity of the island. O-torii (grand gate) was built over the water in the same way, and commoners were directed to steer their boats through the gate as they arrived at the shrine.
At low tide, current day visitors enjoy walking across the sand to the base of the gate.
Next to Itsukushima Shrine is Hokoku shrine, which includes a five-storied pagoda. There’s also a large stone torii on the waterfront path.
For Pete, with love in my heart…