In Hiroshima prefecture, within Itsukushima Island, commonly known as Miyajima, there is a beautiful Shinto shrine called “Itsukushima-jinja”, recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
This sacred enclosure has the particularity of giving the impression of floating on water, in fact, it was built on top of the Seto Sea.
Unlike most Shinto shrines, where the torii gate is located on the way to the enclosure, the torii is in the sea and lines up perfectly with the Hoden (main shrine). The O-Torii (Great Torii Gate), which rises out of the sea, some 16.8 meters high, is among the most interesting structures at Itsukushima Shrine. It is considered one of the 3 most beautiful landscapes in all of Japan.
It is estimated that the sanctuary was founded in the year 593, and in it are consecrated Ichikishimahime no Mikoto, Tagorihime no Mikoto and Tagitsuhime no Mikoto, the three deities of Munakata.
These three deities of Itsukushima were born when Amaterasu Ōmikami (sun goddess) and her brother Susanoo-no-mikoto got engaged on the Celestial Plane, using a jewel and a sword. Since ancient times, they have been revered and worshiped as deities who ensure the welfare of the imperial family, protect the nation and people related to the sea.
The predominant color of the sanctuary is vermilion.
As part of the National Park, the sanctuary has received several distinctions, such as a place of extraordinary scenic beauty, exceptional history, a preservation area, and a natural monument. The virgin forests neighboring Mount Misen, which lies behind the sanctuary, are representative of the lush vegetation and abundance of nature that still covers the entire island, even now.
Formerly this sanctuary was considered so sacred that ordinary people could not access it, in order to maintain the purity of the enclosure. Over the years these restrictions have been relaxed and, today, it is a national park that can be visited by anyone in Hiroshima.
It is one of the most important shrines in Japan, so a visit is recommended to admire the beauty of Japanese and Shinto spirituality.
Itsukushima-jinja means “Shinto Shrine on the island dedicated to the gods.”