Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Itshukushima Shrine / O-Torii Gate - Miyajima Japan

Itshukushima Shrine which is a world heritage site is located at Miyajima Island.  Miyajima is part of the city of Hatsukaichi and is situated off the coast  of the city in the Seto Inland Sea.  It is said that owing to its geography and dark-color looking, the island has been an object of natural worship for people living nearby.  The island has been one of the three most scenic spots on Japan and is also one of the most famous Japanese island.
  Itshukushima Shinto Shrine is said to have been built at its present site by Saeki Kuramoto who was an influential figure in the Suiko  era (A.D. 593). 
This shire is built of camphor wood and is about 16 meters high.

  There are several ways to go to this place from Hiroshima. I opted the cheapest one: train. I took the train at Hiroshima downtown and got off  at "Hiroden-Miyayima-Guchi" (last train station).
  From Hiroden-Miyayima-Guchi station, I took a ferry.  It takes about 15-20 minutes to be at the Itshukushima Shrine.  The shrine is visible even from the Hiroden-Miyayima-Guchi station station. There is a restaurant on-board providing a variety of food from local to European dishes.   Wines and beers is also available. I took there a Japanese beer while staring the shrine from the boat :)
First snapshots from the boat. By the way, I went there in March, so the temperature during this month is still very cold, so as in the photo of the ferry people prefer to remain inside where there is heater. 
On Miyajima Island -it is said- there are about 23 shrines in total including those located along approx. 31 km shoreline of the island which some of them can be seen from the boat. On this trip I saw only this one :(
The shrine was designated as a world cultural heritage site and recognize as fulfilling the standards by UNESCO in 1996.
  The origin of the 'torii' is said to be that when 'Amaterasu-oh-mikami or the Sun Goodness (the most powerful God in Japanese mythology) hid herself in the cave of heaven, 8 millions gods had chickens cry.  After a while one of the chickens fled and perched on a tree, which could be literally described as 'tori' (meaning chicken) was 'i(ru)' (meaning to be) on the tree.  There are of course another explanations many of them adapted from foreign countries.
  aaaaaaaaaaa The most frequently question among tourist I heard that day was: What is the "torii' gate for? The 'Torii" gate usually standing on the boundary of the sacred and non-sacred land, symbolizes a shrine.  Inside the 'Torii' gate goods live and outside of it no gods live.  Even when there are no buildings, a 'Torii' gate is built to express that some gods are residing in the areas.
Building materials for 'Torii' gates are wood (Japanese cypress, Japanese cedar, etc.), stone or copper-covered wood, and lately even iron pipes or ferroconcrete.
aaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaa