The Itsukushima Shinto Shrine is a traditional Shinto religious centre set as an artistic creation in its natural environment.
Since ages, the island is known as a holy place for Shintoism. The first shrines were probably built there in the 6th century. The current one dates from the 13th century. The orange color of the wooden building contrasts beautifully with the green mountains and the blue sea.
Most famous part of the shrine is the so-called floating Torii, the photogenic orange-colored gateway which stands in the water in front of the shrine.
Map of Itsukushima ShrineLoad map
Visit May 2000
There was a scaffolding around the famous floating Torii when I was at the site. Also the tide was low (the Torii stood in mud, not in water), and the weather was quite dreary and misty. So only two stars ...
The island is not bad itself, except for the numerous souvenirshops. One day I will go back and explore the island further on foot. Hopefully, this time the sun will shine and the Torii will be looking as good as it does on the pictures.
Visiting Miyajima is probably the biggest reason most people visit Hiroshima. I know it was why I was there when I had my trip to Japan in December 2019. It's home to one of the "Top 3 Views" in Japan, one of the most famous and beautiful Shinto shrines, and loads of cute deer. It's a really easy day trip from Hiroshima, too, as it's accessible by streetcar, train, and ferry. I took the train route to Miyajimaguchi and caught a ferry from there to the island, since it's all covered by JR Pass. Otherwise, one can stick with the presumably cheaper streetcar route or the faster direct ferry from Peace Park. Not the whole island is actually part of the WHS core area, but it seems that included are the forested areas from Momijidani Park to the peak of Mt. Misen, the hill of Senjokaku, the mud flats around the O-Torii Gate, and of course, Itsukushima Shrine itself. From the ferry, I walked by the deer-lined shore before entering the core zone by the big stone torii gate that guards the path to Senjokaku and Itsukushima. Unfortunately, the O-Torii Gate was under renovation when I visited. It was completely covered by scaffolding, preventing me from fully enjoying the amazing view.
Arriving at around 10:00 in the morning, I was able to walk through the mud flats in front of the great shrine. Despite the low tide mud and barrenness, the deserted shrine was strangely charming in the morning light. It adds a lot to the experience to see it at both tides, and both from inside and outside. From there, I proceeded to Momijidani Park to take the ropeway to Mt. Misen. Except I couldn't. Rain started pouring, and the fog came in. Still, I didn't give up until I got to the ropeway station and realized it was out of service for the day. The beauty of Momijidani's autumn colors made the short hike worth it, though, as did the macaque and deer sightings. Back at the shrine, a shallow layer of water now covered the bottom of the buildings, reflecting their vivid colors on the water. I wanted to wait for the highest tide to go in, though, so I killed time by exploring Senjokaku and eating grilled oysters, which became my favorite memory of the island. Seriously, kakigaki is worth the journey, and the fact that winter is oyster season here didn't hurt. Try them with lemon and soy sauce!
Senjokaku is home to a large wooden hall and a 5-story pagoda. The hall costs just 100 yen to enter, and there's not too much to see inside. It's still worth the low price to admire the nail-less wooden architecture and the various paintings high on the wooden frames. Finally, at 14:00, the tide seemed to reach its peak, so it was time to enter Itsukushima Shrine itself. This was what I was waiting for, to walk through the very center of this WHS, and what I did experience... Well, it was alright. The Shrine buildings are that iconic vermillion, and it does make a great contrast with the sea and the mountains. Senjokaku adds to the diverse scenery as well. That being said, I don't think you'd miss all that much by not paying 300 yen to enter. You go through those beautiful floating halls, seeing the occasional shrine building, noh stage, and bridge, but it's all just the same view. The wooden posts are so bright they feel a bit sterile and new, even though the shrine has been standing since the 13th century. It's also crowded with tourists, and I struggled to take a shot without the hordes. In the end, the whole stroll through the shrine takes half an hour, tops, photoshoots included. Is it beautiful? Of course. Was it a highlight in my trip to Japan? I don't think so.
Itsukushima Shrine is indeed the greatest example of the interaction of Shintoism with its landscape. Even if I wasn't wowed by the architecture of the shrine, the beauty of the whole scene is undeniable. That being said, we can only credit the beautiful landscape to culture so much, when really, all we really should credit to culture is its ability to use and adapt to such landscapes. And that's what Itsukushima is about. It's about beauty and harmony in contrast. In that regard, I couldn't ask for much more from such a site. Except that the ropeway be opened and the renovations on the gate be finished. That would've helped a lot. Also, it seems that Daishoin isn't part of the core zone, but it's definitely worth even a quick look, which I took after going through the shrine. It's a Shingon Buddhist temple, the first temple of my temple run through Japan, which came full circle visiting Kongobuji in Koyasan at the end of the trip. Though it doesn't have much to do with the Shinto OUV of Itsukushima, it's a great site to round out the holy island experience.
I visited this WHS in November 2009. This island is considered to be a holy place of Shintoism which combines nature and human creativity. The highlight of my visit was the huge Torii Gate. I had the opportunity to visit it by boat and also by walk when the tide retreated. This is definitely one of Japan's top WHS.
I love this island! There is a certain atmosphere there that made me feel really comfortable despite the crowds. I wish I could have stayed a night on the island but it was fully booked everywhere. It was a public holiday.
My experience at the temple was immensely enhanced by the unexpected appearance of a Japanese couple, all decked in traditional Japanese costumes, who held their wedding there. I could not believe my luck!
I do think that it is obligatory to climb up Mt Misen. It was tough and I got something of a near death experience thanks to my unfit body but I thought the view from the top was gorgeous. There is a ropeway though, but I only used it to get down.
I was stationed at MCAS Iwakuni from 1969-1971. Miyajima was always one of my favorite places to visit on weekends. A group of us would bicycle from Iwakuni, to Hiroshima, or just to Miyajimaguchi and catch the ferry. I don't know if it is still there, but at the time there was a "dragon" ferry that looked a lot like a viking ship. We would bicycle the length of the island. I have been fortunate to see the world thanks to the military. Miyajima and especially the Itsukushima shrine an torii will always hold a special place in my heart. I loved my tour in Japan. The Japanese were such gracious hosts. I virtually lived on Yakisoba, and still make it to this day.
This place was spectacular the day I came to Miyajima, the sun was brightly accompanying the cloudless sky to create the perfect atmosphere for sightseeing and tourism. The torii shone in the sunset as the sun leapt over the mountainous horizon.
This is the perfect place to be on a sunny day in Hiroshima I highly recommend it
I visited Japan in 2005 and visited Miyajima island. It was one of my favorite sites and we traveled most of the country.
In Sept 2008, my brother married in this shrine and the experience was AMAZING. Our side was American and hers was traditional Japanese. They were so inviting. Being a part of such a time honored tradition was something that not many "westerners" get to experience.
If any can make it to Miyajima island I would say go for it. It was was of the biggest highlights of my Japan experience!
For Japanese, the floating Torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine on Miyashima Island is one of the great three sights in Japan. The shrine is became the symbol of Japan for many foreign tourists apart from Kinkakuji in Kyoto.
Itsukushima Shrine is not the most important Shinto shrine but it is maybe one of the most beautiful. The complex is built on the mud shore which looks horrible when the tide is low, but when the tide is high the magic happen as the shrine is appeared to float above the sea. The famous Torii gate is just amazing as it is in the middle of the sea making a perfect entrance to the whole island.
The history of the shrine is also interesting; the shrine was built in 6th century for the goddess of the sea who Japanese believe to be a daughter of the sun goddess who created Japan. The shrine became a favorite shrine of Taira clan, one of the most powerful families in ancient Japan. This clan declared Miyashima as a holy island and not allowed people to birth or die on the island in order to keep the purity of the holy land. The shrine was rebuilt many times but always in the old design.
Miyashima is very near to Hiroshima. From Hiroshima you can use train or tram to the small town called Miyashimaguchi and then catch one of many ferries cross the small channel to the island. From ferry terminal, turn right to the shrine or just follow the crowd.
My Trip to Itsukushima can be called gourmet tour more than cultural tour! When my Japanese friends and I had arrived Miyashimaguchi, we directly went to one restaurant in front of the train station to eat famous local grilled fish (after a really long queue), after we saw the shrine it was a time to sample famous local delicacy “Momiji-manju” some kind of assorted cake in the shape of maple leaf. As we did not know what shop is the best so we just bought from every shop we saw and sampled them!! After we returned to Hiroshima it’s time for Yakisoba or Japanese fried noodle, another specialties in this region. A trip to Itsukushima really made me full.
The weather was so bad I could hardly see in anything! It was low tide and the Torii was mud-bound as well!
The shrine itself is quite austere, but is beautifully built. The monks were also rather unfriendly, which was disappointing.
This site is worth visiting if you are in the Hiroshima area, but not as the sole purpose of a trip.
Visited the "floating torii" the weekend of June 19-20, 2004. This place was beautiful and fun. Located on the island of Miyajima and just situated for a love scene. From the wild-tamed deer to the many traditional Japanese wedding ceremonies being conducted added more romance to the shrine. A most definate and now I can see why it is considered 1/3 most beautifulest places to visit in Japan.
For as long as I can remember I have had a fascination with Japan. I still don't know if it was the image of the Otorii (Great Gate), guarding the entrance to the Itsukushima shrine that made me impressed with Japan, or the the Otorii was 'just' the symbol of Japan for me. I always wanted to come here and visit.
Anyway, I visited in October 2000 and from seeing the gate emerge from the mist to returning as dusk fell I thought it wonderful. A spiritual place.
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