Miyajima's torii gate
The most photographed shrine in Japan is Miyajima's torii gate which appears to float in the sea.
The famous torii gate at Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island is much loved as one of Japan's most picturesque ocean views. The bright red gate stands a few metres from the shore line in the Seto Inland Sea and at high tide appears as if it is floating in the water. Much of Itsukushima Shrine, first constructed in the 6th century, is built over the water on gangways supported by pillars. At low tide the water drains from the bay and it's possible to walk right out to the gate.
Miyajima literally means "shrine island" and throughout the centuries it has been considered a sacred, pure place. Because lay people were not allowed to set foot on the island, they had to steer their boats through the torii gate in order to be purified, and then they could bring their boats up to Itsukushima Shrine's pier. Since 1978 no deaths, births or burials have been allowed near the shrine in order to maintain its purity.
Although closed at night, the shrine and other temples on the island are beautifully illuminated in the evening; a real treat for those overnighting in a Miyajima ryokan who'll have the island almost to themselves as day trippers return to Hiroshima.
When to go: Please note that the torii gate is currently undergoing renovation work and may be covered by scaffolding until summer 2020.
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Miyajima's torii gate
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