Miyajima is located about 20 kilometers southwest of the city of Hiroshima in the Inland Seto Sea. Since ancient times, it has been worshiped as an island of deities. There is a legendary flame that has been burning continuously for 1200 years. You can get to the island very easily and quickly by ferry, the journey takes only 10 minutes. Already from the ferry you can admire the huge gate O-Torii, which is the entrance to the Shrine of Itsukushima. A shrine that seems to float on the water. In the twelfth century, in the late Heian period, members of the Heike clan came here to worship the deities of the sea. The Shrine has long been preferred by warriors, because the deities living on the island provide safe sailing and good catches. Itsukushima with O-Torii is one of the characteristic symbols of Japan, such as the Chureito pagoda with a view of Mount Fuji or Thousands Torii Gates of the Fushimi Inari Shrine.
At high tide, you can also go to O-Thorii with a boat to see it up close. In the damaged by water pillars, you should put the coin for luck and to fulfill your requests.
O-Torii Gate is located 160 meters from the main sanctuary, deep into the sea. It consists of 16 meter high pillars made of Japanese camphor tree trunks.
The Itsukushima Shrine was built about 800 years ago. General Taira no Kiyomori erected the shrine and sacrificed it in 1168. With beautiful green vegetation in the background, the red-painted shrine grows from the mainland creating an extraordinary landscape – a sanctuary floating at sea. The buildings are connected by a series of long roofed corridors. Pillars supporting the buildings are susceptible to water erosion because they are under water at high tide. However, at the moment when the outflow occurs, the whole complex is exposed.
Itsukushima has an otherworldly feel, all due to the shiny solar reflections that reflect off the water on the pillars and roof of the shrine. Itsukushima appearance changes dramatically with the passage of time. The shrine is registered as a world heritage of UNESCO and looks mysterious, as if swimming in the ocean at high tide.
Towering behind the shrine, at an height of 335 meters, Mount Misen is a holy place. The surprising diversity of plants and animals inhabits the mountains and the primeval forest, which is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage. About 1,200 years ago, the famous Buddhist monk Kukai opened this mountain as an ascetic, sacred place and it is believed that the sacred fire used for the training of monks burns even to this day. Known as the Eternal Flame it was used as a source for many different flames. One example is the Flame of Peace ignited in 1964 in the Peace Park in the city of Hiroshima, once destroyed by a nuclear bomb. Keeping the Eternal Fire alive is part of the spiritual training of the monks. Firewood comes from the holy forest of the Mt. Misen. It is cut from fallen trees, with special permission. Climbing up with wood weighing 20 kilograms is part of spiritual practice. Monks during training check fire at night every two hours, and for many nights they simply stare at fire for hours. Hiding the sacred force, the legendary flame of Miyajima is still burning. Its power is manifested by the fact that when you drunk tea cooked on fire it cures all ailments.
Sika’s holy deer also live on the island, they are completely domesticated with people. You can approach them, stroke them, and they will steal food from you. The deer are on the main path leading to the shrine, but you will also find them in the park with sakura, about which seems to known only few tourists. Maybe, like us, you can find it. It is worth going down from the beaten paths, you can find real gems.
Miyajima is the perfect place for me, it is beautiful there. Everywhere there are well-maintained buildings in Japanese style. There is also a lot of greenery, and of course sakura trees. In addition to the most important Itsukushima Shrine, you will also find many more temples and attractions, so it is worth to spend a few days on Miyajima and fell the atmosphere of this place.
Miyajima is one of the most important tourist attractions of Japan, as well as a holy place for pilgrims who come here. No wonder that there are always crowds of people here. However, while walking around the island, you can come across completely empty streets that will allow you to take a break from the crowd.
During the low tide, with the passage of time, more tracts of underwater terrain are revealed. Not only the shrine complex is fully visible, but also the O-Torii gate, which you can approach and admire at close.
This is also the perfect time for seafood enthusiasts. People collect shells, digging them out of the sand, but you will also meet other seafood lovers here…
…and wild birds.
The image of the shrine, the O-Torii gates, as well as the whole island, changes not only with the high tide and low tide, but also with the change of weather. Thanks to this, you still want to see the same places that look completely different in cloudy conditions and in full sun.
In old buildings you will find numerous souvenir shops and of course street food. The most famous snack from the island is Momiji Manju, which is a maple-leaf cake with the adzuki bean filling.
The whole Japan has much to offer, but Miyajima Island has captivated me the most. I recommend everyone who goes to Japan to include this place in their plans. It’s best to spend two or three days here to see the whole island. In the evening, when the last tourists leaves the island by ferry, it gets even more peaceful and the Itsukushima temple is beautifully illuminated. We unfortunately planned only one day, or even only a few hours on Miyajima. We also wanted to see Hiroshima, but the changing landscape caused that we did not want to leave this place. Therefore, we stayed until the evening to record as many memories from this place as possible.
Last goodbye to the island of Miyajima and Sika deer. Maybe someday we will be able to come back here.
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