Itsukushima Shrine, also known as Miyajima of Aki in Hiroshima Prefecture, is a scenic spot known as one of the three most scenic spots in Japan. The official name of the shrine is “Itsukushima Shrine.
The name “Itsukushima Shrine” is derived from “Itsukushima Island,” meaning “the island where God is enshrined,” and the island itself has long been worshipped as a deity. It is said that the shrine was built in 593 by Saeki-no-Kuramoto, a powerful family in the area after he received an oracle to build the shrine.
Later, at the end of the Heian period (794-1185), the Heike clan revered the shrine through the association with Taira no Kiyomori, the governor of Aki at that time. Later, at the end of the Meiji period (1868-1912), the shrine buildings were designated as national treasures, and in 1996 (1996), the shrine was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Today, Itsukushima Shrine consists of 17 buildings, including the main shrine, the main hall, and the hall of worship, as well as the Otorii (Grand Gate), the five-story pagoda, and three polytunnels. 6 buildings are designated as national treasures, and 11 buildings and three pagodas are designated as national important cultural properties.
As a tourist attraction, Itsukushima Shrine attracts visitors with its bold configuration and sleeping quarters built with the sea as its site. The torii gateway over the sea is a fantastic sight at high tide. At low tide, visitors can walk to the torii on foot. Seasonal, limited edition red seal stamp books, amulets, and omikuji are popular souvenirs. The Omotesando shopping street, the busiest shopping street on Miyajima, is full of souvenir stores, including Hiroshima’s famous momiji manju buns and stores where you can dress up in kimono and brand your own original goods.
The seasonal changes are also worth seeing: cherry blossoms are in full bloom in April, and the area is famous for its autumn foliage in September and October.
Formerly, this sanctuary was considered so sacred that ordinary could not set foot on it to maintain the enclosure’s purity. Over the years, they eased up and, today, it is a national park available to all of us.
Miyajima is easily accessible by a 10-minute ferry ride from Miyajima-guchi, making it possible to take a day trip from Hiroshima City. A sightseeing cab is recommended for smoother sightseeing, as you do not have to worry about parking lot availability or train transfers. Click here to make a reservation!