Miyajima (宮島) is one of the crown jewels of Japan, and certainly one of its finest views. Located off the coast of Hiroshima, the serene beauty of the island is an essential coda to that city. After spending my morning visiting Atomic Bomb Dome and the Peace Park Museum in downtown Hiroshima I took ferry to the Miyajima Island for the afternoon to visit it shrines and of course the world famous floating torii gate…
Miyajima has been considered a holy place for most of Japanese history. In 806 AD, the monk Kōbō Daishi ascended Mt. Misen and established the mountain as an ascetic site for the Shingon sect of Buddhism. In the years since, the island’s Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines have maintained a close relationship.In the past, women were not allowed on the island and old people were shipped elsewhere to die, so that the ritual purity of the site would not be spoiled; in fact, the island’s real name is Itsukushima (厳島), and Miyajima is just a popular nickname meaning “Shrine Island”.
These days, strict measures are taken to ensure that the island’s sole town retains a classically Japanese Edo-era look. Deer wander freely through the streets and parks. They are wild animals, but fearless and inquisitive, not above chewing clothing that’s lying around. There are still a few bits of concrete warren that have snuck in, but the seafront promenade is particularly attractive, especially later in the day when the rampaging tour groups head home and the stone lanterns are lit.
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