Itsukushima Shrine (嚴島神社) in Miyajima
Rice scoop souvenir
Itsukushima Shrine (嚴島神社) in Miyajima
Miyajima Island is ranked number 3 by TripAdvisor as one of the "Top30 Attractions in Japan by International Travelers 2018" (June 12, 2018 article). It is also famous as one of "the top three scenic spots in Japan (Nihon Sankei)". Take this tour and you will find out why!
MIYAJIMA IS A SACRED ISLAND -- People living across from Miyajima always put their hands together, as a sign of respect toward this island. Come learn why the whole island is sacred. The mountain behind Itsukushima Shrine surely looks like Kannon Bosatsu, the goddess of mercy. There are also many lucky items hidden for lovers in the island. Come explore the mystery of Miyajima.
ITSUKUSHIMA SHRINE AND THE TORII GATE -- All visitors are impressed with the beauty of the Shrine and the Torii Gate. The illumination at sunset further adds its profoundness. Wild deer, the symbol of Miyajima, welcome you. Everything is simply beautiful on this island.
There are many interesting things you can enjoy on the way to and within Itsukushima Shrine. A few examples:
Stone Torii Gate on the way -- Where should we go through? The center is the portion for the god to pass. Visitors should go on either a left or a right side of the Torii Gate.
Komainu -- There are 5 pairs of lion dogs protecting the shrine from evil spirits around the shrine. The right side is the male with an open mouth. The pair at the back gate have raised hind-quarters which represent happy outcomes and are lucky talismans. Please pat their hind-quarters for good fortune. There is another remarkable pair of lion dogs standing in front of the main hall with distinct differences. Additionally, the female Komainu even has a horn on the head. This tour will show them all to you with an in-depth explanation.
Crows at the entrance -- Crows perch on the stone lanterns. They led the founder of Itsukushima Shrine to the location. They are the messengers of the gods.
Hart mark decoration -- You'll find some marks that look like hearts on the decoration at the shrine. Why? They are traditional architectural decorations to bring good fortune. Also, while they look like hearts, they actually represent the eyes of wild boars.
There are many other interesting things you cannot miss at the shrine, such as body purification, Shimenawa, Omikuji, Goshuin-cho, worshiping manners, and an explanation of how the shrine has survived from typhoons for a long period.
The Torii Gate (Otorii) also has many secrets.
The Torii Gate (Otorii) sits on the seafloor -- Why hasn't it been blown away? The gate weighs 60 tons at the base, and it also has 7 tons of stones loaded inside the top mantel. All of this weight keeps the gate in position. Underneath the base of the gate, there are hundreds of wooden bars to provide added support.
Shrine names on Otorii -- The shrine names are different between the sea and shrine sides -- The sea side shows the original name, while the shrine side name means the Island of the gods.
There are other interesting facts that you can learn from the Otorii, such as Sun and Moon marks on the top box.
DAISHOIN TEMPLE -- This temple has a solemn atmosphere with 1,200 years of history and is known for a strong power spot. This temple has a lot of mysterious things and spots which would be difficult for travelers to find. Here are a few examples:
Nio Gate and Mani Guruma -- Two Deva Kings at the Nio Gate are the guardians of Buddha. Once you pass through the gate, you will see many prayer wheels. If you spin the prayer wheels once, it is like reading the sutras once. You can spin the prayer wheels as you climb to the top. Give it a try!
Jizo -- The temple has a lot of Jizos who are the guardians of travelers, children and pregnant ladies. If you look at them carefully, you will be surprised to see that some look like ultraman, monsters and possibly even someone you may know. Three of the jizos are called "complaint jizos." You can find them and complain about your bad days. If you are lucky, they may help you!