Region
Chugoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Hiroshima
Population
2,878,949

Itsukushima Shrine

See it in person.

Appearing as if floating on the Seto Inland Sea at high tide, the awe-inspiring O-Torii (otherwise known as The Grand Torii Gate) is the iconic trademark that first welcomes day-tripping pilgrims from Hiroshima to the sacred island of Miyajima. It’s one of the country’s most iconic sights – you’ll definitely know it if you’ve ever googled “Japan images” – and the whole complex of suspended red buildings is even more captivating in real life.

Miyajima Shrine Japan

The shrine is made up of several buildings, built above the sea and connected by wooden boardwalks.

Who and what was previously banned from Itsukushima?

Itsukushima Shinto shrine at Miyajima
Regarded as one of the three most scenic spots in Japan, Miyajima, whose name literally stands for Shrine Island, is synonymous with Itsukushima Shrine – so much so that the names are basically interchangeable, and often confused by visitors. Say either/or, people will know what you mean.

First founded in 593 A.D., the vermillion coated shrine pavilion was later enlarged to its current dimensions in 1168 under Taira no Kiyomoro, a powerful warlord in the late Heian Period. All credit for the grandeur of Itsukushima goes to this legendary figure who commissioned the gate to be constructed in an architectural style catering to aristocratic estates, known as shinden-zukuri.

The regional shrine rose to national prominence in the Heian Period as members of the Imperial Court began worshipping the deities believed to reside at this sacred site. There are rare performances of the ancient art of bugaku (classical court dance and music) that were once enjoyed by the royals on their visits way back when.

If you’re lucky you might catch a traditional bugaku performance at the shrine, usually held during commemorative events of festivals like New Years or the Emperor’s birthday.

Another interesting feature is a Noh theater stage dating from 1509. As in Ancient Greek plays, the stories enacted on stage draw inspiration from creation myths and religion. Featuring the natural backdrop of the sea, the stage is the perfect performance setting for an island where gods dwell.

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Trivia

Itsukushima Shinto shrine at Miyajima

Who and what was previously banned from Itsukushima?

Skeptical of the sacredness surrounding this island of ancient mystery? Aside from earning a sacred spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Itsukushima was considered to be so holy that neither birth nor death - and consequently women and elderly people - were permitted to visit it. Happily for us, the rules have since been relaxed.

How To Get There

Address

Unnamed Road, Miyajimachō, Hatsukaichi-shi, Hiroshima-ken 739-0588, Japan

By train

From Hiroshima Station, take the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station (approximately 30 minutes) from where you must transfer to take a ferry.

By boat

There are two ferry services operate between Miyajimaguchi and Miyajima Island: the JR Ferry and the Miyajima Matsudai Kisen. Both ferries take approximately 10 minutes to reach Miyajima Island.

Where To Stay

Miyajima Morinoyado
  • Miyajima-cho Omotokoen Hatsukaichi-Shi, Hiroshima 739-0588
  • 8/10
  • 2.2 km
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Jukeiso
  • Miyajima-cho 50 Hatsukaichi-Shi, Hiroshima 739-0533
  • 8.9/10
  • 2.3 km
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Forest Villa Mizuha
  • Miyajima-cho 49 Hatsukaichi-Shi, Hiroshima 739-0534
  • 7.4/10
  • 2.3 km
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Mizuhasou
  • Miyajima-cho Nishioonishi-machi Hatsukaichi-Shi, Hiroshima 739-0534
  • 9.1/10
  • 2.3 km
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