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Miyajima Island & Itsukushima-jinja Shrine 宮島・厳島神社

Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima (© SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com)
Sunset on the "floating torii" of the Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima.

The floating shrine of Itsukushima (厳島), more commonly called Miyajima (宮島, 'palace island'), is one of Japan's three great views, and possibly the most photogenic one. The shrine is also listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The shrine dates back to the 6th century, but it is only in 1168 that Taira no Kiyomori (see Shimonoseki) generously financed the construction of the present shrine.

The famous 16m tall O-torii has been reconstructed 17 times since then, last in 1875. The magical atmosphere of Miyajima is best captured at dusk when the tide rises and the stone lanters flicker.

Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima (© eyetronic - Fotolia.com)
Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima (© MasterLu - Fotolia.com)

Mount Misen 弥山

Another attraction on the island is the ascent of 530m Mount Misen. The climbing takes about 2h, but those feeling less energetic or in a hurry can take the cable car (¥900 one-way, ¥1500 return), which stops 15min walk short of the summit.

You will see plenty of monkeys and deers on th way. As usual with Japanese monkeys, take your precaution for bag-snatching and keep some distance as they can turn aggressive.

Toward the top, an enormous pot named Keizu-no-Reikado is said to have been simmering ever since Kobo Daishi (aka Kukai) lit its fire 1200 years ago. Drinking tea made from its boiling water is said to cure all kinds of illnesses...

Floating torii, Itsukushima-jinja Shrine, Miyajima

How to get there

Miyajima is accessible by ferry from Hiroshima. High-speed ferries fro Ujina Port take only 20min, but are much more costly (¥1465) than taking the train (25min, ¥400) or tram (55min, ¥270) to Miyajima-guchi station, then a ferry from there (10min, 170yen).

The shrine is open from 6:30am to 6pm and admission is ¥300. This is a notable exception in Japan, as shrines are normally open 24h and have free admission.

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