Itsukushima Shrine

The Island of Miyajima

The famous floating gate
The famous floating gate

Itsukushima Shrine, or Itsukushima Jinja, is on the island of Itsukushima, more commonly called Miyajima, just south of Hiroshima City. The shrine is best known for its ‘floating’ torii gate, which ranks it among the Three Great Views of Japan.

 

In ancient times, Miyajima was considered so holy that commoners were not allowed to set food upon the island, and one could only approach the pier-like shrine through a gate placed in the water. The red gate only ‘floats’ at high tide, however, and while vividly illuminated at night, during the day it rests inelegantly on a sand bar.

 

Beyond the shrine, walking courses meander up the gentle slope of Mt. Misen. The island is filled with semi-tame deer that munch on garbage and inattentive tourists’ shirts, while tanuki roam the winding narrow roads after nightfall.

 

Miyajima can be reached via the JR Sanyo Line from Hiroshima Station (¥400, 25 min). The departure pier is near Miyajima-guchi Station, and ferries depart at regular intervals (¥170, 10 min). Alternatively, you can take the slower streetcar #2 from in front of Hiroshima Station for ¥270, and the last stop, Hiroden Miyajima-guchi, is directly in front of the pier. Direct ferries also run from Hiroshima Peace Park and Hiroshima Port (¥1900/55 min and ¥1460/30 min, respectively).

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Published November 2008. Photo © 2006 Michael Kanert.