Cross the floating boundary between the human and spirit world.
Built around 200 meters offshore, the giant red gate looks as though it’s floating in the sea during high tide, while low tide lets you walk right up to touch its imposing cedar wood pillars. Nightly boat cruises pass through the gate, said to be a passage between the human and spirit world.
The best time to photograph the gate is at dusk from Hitasaki, the wooden deck at the west end of Itsukushima Shrine.
While Miyajima’s proximity to Hiroshima makes it an easy day trip, an overnight stay offers the chance to experience the view in relative peace and quiet once the crowds of tourists have left the island. In the evening, stone lanterns are lit along the seafront and the traditional town takes on an otherworldly atmosphere straight out of a Studio Ghibli movie.
There are several other shrines and temples on the island concentrated around the slopes and summit of Mount Misen, the highest peak on Miyajima. A ropeway close to Momijidani station takes you to the top of the mountain, though it’s best to explore one of the easy hiking trails through the forest on foot. The Reikado (Hall of the Spiritual Flame) protects a burning flame said to be lit by Kobo Daishi around 1200 years ago and which was used to light the Flame of Peace at Hiroshima’s Peace Park.