Monday, August 2, 2010

Miyajima is an island in Japan; where Gods and people live together.

Miyajima is one of the “Three views of Japan” (Japan’s most famous sights) as listed by a great Japanese scholar Hayashi Razan in 1643 and this belief holds good even today. Miyajima literally means Shrine Island. It is actually Itsukushima Island and the name of the town on it is Miyajima. But everyone calls the Island as Miyajima and the main Shrine there as Itsukushima Shrine. Itsukushima Shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Miyajima is situated in the ‘Seto Inland Sea of Japan’ and can be reached from Hiroshima Station in less than two hours by first reaching Miyamaguchi Station by Train or Tram and then by taking a ferryboat Miyajima. The Island is about 31 Kms. in circumference with an area of 30.4 sq. Kms. and a population of about 2,300. It is a very beautiful place.
Itsukushima Shrine was founded there in 593 A.D. The Shrine is dedicated to the maritime guardian Goddesses, the three daughters of the Shinto deity of Seas and Storms ‘Tatehaya Susanoo-no-Mikoto’, who is the brother of ‘Amaterasu’ the Goddess of the Sun and ‘Tsukuyomi’ the God of the Moon. Since it’s founding in the 6th century the shrine has undergone several changes and renovations and the present Shrine dates from the mid 16th century. Since such ancient times, the island itself is worshipped as a sacred place. The Shrines, Temples, the Island’s unique culture and sacred nature are maintained with the same reverence even now.
The red colored huge gate that you see in the top two photographs is called a ‘Torii’. Torii is a traditional Japanese gate found at the entrance or within Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples. The Torii of Itsukushima Shrine is called a ‘Floating Torii’ as the gate is surrounded by water during high tide and appears to be floating. During low tide the water recedes and one can walk up to the gate without getting wet. The Miyajima Shrines, Torii and the 530 Mtrs. high Mount Misen that you see in the above pictures are perhaps the most photographed landmarks of Japan. I am glad that I could visit this sacred and historical place.

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