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Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima in Hiroshima Bay, Japan. This beautiful island is also known as Miyajima (the ‘Shrine Island’). This shrine is dedicated to the three daughters of the Shinto god of the sea and storms (Susano-o no Mikoto), so the fact that this shrine’s buildings are built in the waters of the bay makes sense.

Itsukushima’ buildings and torii gate in the mud at low tide
Itsukushima’ buildings and torii gate in the mud at low tide

In fact the reason Itsukushima’s buildings are in the water is because Miyajima island was considered a sacred place, and therefore ordinary people were not allowed on the island in order to maintain it’s purity. This is also why the shrine’s torii gate is out in the bay – visitors had to take their boats through the torii before entering the shrine complex.

As with many of Japan’s temples and pagodas the shrine building have been rebuilt over the years and the very first shrine is said to have been built in the 6th century. The current shrine dated back to the 16th century.

The shrine’s halls and pathways on stilts.

Itsukushima’s torii gate at low tide
Itsukushima’s torii gate at low tide

Other attractions on Miyajima

Mount Misen and Daishō-in

Above Itsukushima Shrine is Mount Misen and if you visit Miyajima take a walk up to see the amazing mini-Buddha statues of Daishō-in temple. Miyajima is quite a picturesque island and deer wander around the during the day.

There are sign warning tourists that the deer with antlers can be dangerous. The sign above caught my attention – I believe it is saying don’t feed the deer and the girl is holding sweets or food of some kind. However, it made me chuckle because she is unfortunately positioned behind the deer and it looks like she may have something else in her hands!!

Goju-no-to Pagoda

Goju-no-to is a five-storey high pagoda (27 metres) which overlooks the bay and Itsukushima Shrine, the pagoda was built in 1407 and is quite a sight to behold.

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