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Goin’ Japanesque!

The Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan—Miyajima/Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima, popularly known as Miyajima, is an island that’s part of Hiroshima Prefecture. Together with Amanohashidate and Matsushima, it’s one of the Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan. Miyajima cannot be left off your Japanese sightseeing itinerary, and on the island you’ll find Itsukushima Shrine, whose essential highlights we’re going to examine today.


Itsukushima Shrine



The island of Miyajima is synonymous with Itsukushima Shrine. Its globally-famed torii (shrine gate) sitting above the water hardly needs an introduction. The only one of the Three Most Scenic Spots designated as a World Heritage Site is this, Itsukushima Shrine which is located within the island of Miyajima. Also, there’s a fireworks festival held here every August called the Miyajima Water Fireworks Festival, and it’s something you should see at least once in your life.


Highlight #1: The Torii


Painted crimson red and standing 16 m tall with pillars 10 m in circumference, this gigantic torii could easily be called the symbol of Itsukushima Shrine. Sitting 200 m offshore, the torii is not built into the ocean floor but is instead held in place by its weight alone, heavy enough to withstand the ocean’s waves. This is because there are many stone weights packed into the very top of the torii. Even the people of centuries past had knowledge of this technique.

Owing to the ebb and flow of the sea, you can even walk out to the torii come low tide. Be sure to head out to the foot of the torii if you have the chance! You’ll be shocked at just how big it is up close.


Highlight #2: The Main Shrine


itsukushima-shrine5 Visible in front: Takabutai

Said to be the largest in all of Japan, Itsukushima Shrine’s honden (“main shrine hall”) enshrines three goddesses, and since being rebuilt by Mōri Motonari in 1571, the impressive aura that dwells here had not diminished a whit.


Highlight #3: The Arched Bridge



Scribing a gorgeous arc through the air, this arched bridge is also called Chokushi-bashi (“Bridge of the Imperial Envoy”).


Highlight #4: The Corridor



Itsukushima Shrine’s corridor is 4 m wide and connects together a variety of locales, running a total of 275 m. The gapped joints between the boards diminish the pressure of the rising water during high tide and allow seawater and rain to flow back out to the ocean.


Highlight #5: The Stages—Hirabutai (”Broad Stage”), Takabutai (”High Stage”), and Nōbutai (“Noh Stage”)


Together with the ishibutai (stone stages) found at Shitennōji and Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka, this is one of the Three Great Stages of Japan. The stages are well-known for hosting performances like Gagaku (traditional multi-instrument court music of Japan).


The five highlights we’ve told you about today are the fundamentals for a trip to Itsukushima Shrine, so think of them as the bare minimum must-see’s.
Check out additional highlights here: The Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan—Miyajima/ Around Itsukushima Shrine


Tip: Getting to Miyajima is as easy as riding one of the ferries, and our recommendation is the JR Miyajima ferry. This is because the ferry, which departs the Miyajimaguchi Pier, takes the long route and shows you how Itsukushima Shrine’s massive torii looks from the water.

Related: The Seishun 18 (Juhachi) Kippu: A Value Ticket for Unlimited Travel on the JR Lines

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