Tokyobling's Blog

Itsukushima Shrine – Miyajima Island

Posted in Places by tokyobling on June 28, 2014

The shrine on Isukushima Island, or Miyajima, is built into the flat tidal bay of the Setonaikai, a small sea surrounded by the main islands of Japan. In the old days the it was forbidden for commoners to set foot on the holy island so the shrine was built into the bay to make it possible for ordinary people to pay their respects. Although the building has been rebuilt many times, the original shrine dates back to the 6th century, making it one of the oldest in Japan.

During high tide the shrine sits in the middle of the water, a very beautiful effect. Unfortunately I visited during the rainy season so it was raining for most of the day and by the time I arrived low tide was in effect and most of the water had already run out. Still, it is good to see something different from what every photo in every tourist book tells you!

Shinto places great importance on purity, and since the island of Itsukushima is one the holiest places births and deaths and blood were not allowed on the island traditionally. These days of course, customs have changed though. Anyone who died on the island would be taken over to the mainland with their immediate family for funeral rites and there are still no cemeteries or graves on the island. Pregnant women were also expected to leave the island before giving birth and although not a rule anymore it is still considered prudent as there are no official maternity wards or hospitals on the island and the daytime only ferry access can be canceled in times of bad weather.

Walking around on the shrine which covers quite a lot of ground but is surprisingly small is a fantastic experience and I would easily rate this shrine as one of the premier places to visit for anyone touristing in Japan. This was also one of the places visited by Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio on their honey moon trip to Japan. As much as I have searched though, I can’t find any official dates or photos, but it must have happened on the afternoon of February 12th, 1954. Any fans who knows more out there?

More photos and posts to come!

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8 Responses

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  1. Julie said, on June 28, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    So ethereal and beautiful! I like the effect of the low tide too because it’s unusual and I can see how far down the ground actually is. If you only see the high tide photos, it’s a mystery!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on June 30, 2014 at 12:52 am

      Thank you Julie! I will have to return some day to see it at high tide (early morning…).

      Like

  2. Jonelle Patrick said, on June 29, 2014 at 2:41 am

    Hey, thanks for posting these! I actually had no idea that famous torii gate was part of such a great shrine – you never see pictures of the building, just the torii. As always, you have a fantastic eye for color and composition. (And whoa, look at that green lattice showing through the door in the third picture! I’ve never seen anything that color at a shrine before.)

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on June 30, 2014 at 12:53 am

      Haha…. yes, the torii is a show stopper! The shrine itself is just as interesting though.

      Like

  3. totr1302 said, on June 29, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Beautiful pictures that bring back sweet memories. How have you been able to take them without tourists? I remember the shrine being full of tourists; actually, there was even a wedding when I’ve been.

    Reading your blog is always a pleasure; keep up the amazing work.

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on June 30, 2014 at 12:55 am

      Thank you! I was there during the off-seaons, the rainy season. Also it was a Monday morning so there were not much people. As the day went on there were even fewer people and by nightfall I was almost alone by the shrine and the torii!

      Like

  4. Timi said, on June 30, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    I can see ghosts wandering around (not the evil ones), love it * – *

    Like


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