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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Sub-zero temperatures and the greatest of outdoor environments, complemented by sizzling soul food and warm-hearted welcomes. Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Sleek apple-red and electric-green shinkansen whisk you up to a haven of fresh powder snow, fresh fruit and fearsome folk legends Fearsome festivals, fresh powder and vast fruit orchards—the rugged northern territory of Tohoku offers a fresh perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
Mountains and sea meet in one of Japan's wildest regions, and the result is sheer beauty. Once largely inaccessible, Hokuriku is now reachable by shinkansen from Tokyo in a matter of hours An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Characterized by the constant buzz of the world's most populous metropolitan area, the Kanto region is surprisingly green with an array of escapes that include mountainous getaways and subtropical islands Experience diversity at its fullest, from the neon of Tokyo to the ski slopes of Gunma, exotic wildlife of the Ogasawara Islands and cultural heritage of Kamakura
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Served by the shinkansen line that connects Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the Tokai region provides plenty of interesting diversions and easy excursions Tokai means "eastern sea," and this region stretches east from Tokyo to Kyoto and includes blockbuster attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
From raucous nights out to outdoor thrills to peaceful reverie, trying to categorize the Kansai region is a futile task The Kansai region is one of extreme contrasts—the neon lights of Osaka and glittering Kobe nightscape, the peaceful realms of Shiga, Wakayama and Nara, and the cultured refinement of Kyoto
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Less-traveled and delightfully inaccessible at times, the Chugoku region is a reminder that the journey is sometimes more important than the destination Welcome to Japan's warm and friendly western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Providing the stage for literary classics, fevered dancing and natural wonders Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
Easily reached by land, sea and air, the dynamic Kyushu prefectures are bubbling with energy, culture and activity The southern island of Kyushu is home to volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky, succulent seafood, steaming hot springs and the country's hottest entrepreneurial town
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Ruins and recreated castles of the Ryukyu kings nestle amid magnificent beaches in Okinawa, a diver's paradise teeming with an amazing array of coral and undersea life Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

Itsukushima-jinja Shrine 厳島神社

A sanctuary for the spirit, floating on the tides

The origins of the shrine known as Itsukushima-jinja, situated on Miyajima not far from Hiroshima, are somewhat unclear, since it has been damaged and rebuilt so many times over the centuries. Most recently in 2004, Typhoon Songda tore away sections of the roof and boardwalks.

The current structure was built in the mid-1700s, but was modeled on the shrine that was originally built in 1168. Historical reserach suggests that there has been some manner of shrine on the island since the 6th century.

Tips

  • The magnificent red offshore torii gate, the symbol of the island
  • The island in autumn, when everything turns a brilliant red
  • The free-roaming monkeys and deer

How to Get There

There is an easy, ten minute boat trip from the mainland.

The port on the mainland is a five minute walk from JR Miyajimaguchi Station and is very well sign-posted. From the port on Miyajima it's a further ten minute walk to the shrine.

Quick Facts

The iconic gate stands at an impressive 16 meters tall

The gate is made from camphor wood, which has a natural resistance to rotting

A spiritual sanctuary

The island itself has long been a sacred place. In order to keep the ground sacred, members of the public were not allowed to set foot on land. This is why the shrine is built on stilts. This means the shrine appears to be floating at high-tide and visitors can pray without upsetting the holy atmosphere.

To this day births and deaths are not permitted in the shrine’s vicinity. Women who are heavily pregnant and those who are terminally ill are ushered to the mainland.

The floating gate

Perhaps the most iconic section of the shrine is the huge red gate, or torii, that appears to float in the sea. In the past, visitors to the island used to pass through the gate by boat. The gate that stands today was built in 1875, but some form of gate has stood there since 1168.

A beautiful boat ride

Just getting to the island is an adventure in itself.

Ferries depart regularly throughout the day, and it is usually a serene sail. As you view the shrine from the boat, it seems to be floating apart from the island, with the gate acting as an entrance from the sea.

The ferry trip offers amazing views. The red of the shrine, the green of the lush forestry and the blue sky shimmer together like a mystical picture.

Up close to an icon

During high tide, the shrine and gate appear to float eerily on the water. The water dampens the sound which adds to the tranquility. When the sea retreats at low tide, the shrine's stilts become visible and you can admire the craftsmanship. You can walk across the sand and right up to the gate, to get an up close photograph of this quintessentially Japanese landmark.

A world famous icon

Thanks to the island’s cultural and spiritual significance, along with its natural beauty, it was officially listed as a World Heritage Site in 1996. This all but guarantees that the island will be bustling, especially on weekends and national holidays, so be prepared to be jostled around in the shopping district. To escape the crowds, head inland and up Mount Misen.

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