Itsukushima, Japan

Idea About: place

Country: Japan
Sunset in Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima island.

Sunset in Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima island.
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General Information

Country: Japan (2)
Location Info:  City: Hatsukaichi  Province/State: Hiroshima Prefecture
Idea About: place (99)
Type of Travel: art and culture (37) | history (63) | religion (21)
Features: ancient architecture (23) | ancient monument (8) | heritage site (36) | religious architecture (19) | shrine (15)
Recommended for: family (60) | senior (53) | single (48) | student (49)
Budget: budget (80) | mainstream (85) | expensive (42)
Region: Asia (15)

Description

Itsukushima Shrine (Itsukushima-jinja) is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima (or Miyajima as people call it) in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan. The shrine is dedicated to the three daughters of Susano-o no Mikoto, Shinto deity of seas and storms and a brother of the great sun deity, Amaterasu. (Shinto is a traditional, native Japanese religion. It represents a set of practices which must be executed thoroughly in order to make a connection between the present and the past).

Itsukushima Shrine was originally built the second half of the 6th century, but after that was destroyed many times. The present shrine was built in the middle of 16th century in the Shinden style. Shinden-zukuri is architectural style developed for palatial or aristocratic mansions built in Heian-kyō (present city of Kyoto) in the Heian period (794-1185). It consists of shinden - main building connected with subsidiary structures by covered passages. The structure of the present shrine follows the blue prints of the 12th century design when the shrine was remodeled by Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181), a prominent political figure of the late Heian period.

Standing in the Seto Inland Sea, the shrine is known for its unique construction. It was designed and built on pier-like structures over the bay because the island itself was considered sacred and pilgrims were not allowed to set foot on Miyajima island. The red entrance gate of the shrine, called torii, was built over the water for the same reason. Pilgrims had to steer the boats through the torii before approaching the shrine. In high tide, torii also seems floating on the water. But when the tide is low, it is possible to walk to the gates on foot. Some visitors place coins in the cracks of the gate legs and make a wish. Traditional Japanese gates found at the entrances or within Shinto shrines symbolize a threshold between secular and spiritual worlds.

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What Makes It Special

Miyajima is translated as shrine-island into English. A famous Itsukushima Shrine which is located there gave this name to the island. The shrine and its torii six leg gate painted brilliant orange are famous for their unique construction in an aria of a tidal water appearing floating over the sea level during high tide. The shrine complex consists of a group of buildings which are connected with each other by boardwalks and covered passages and are all supported by pillars above the tidal sea water. The shrine is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Japanese government has designated several buildings and relics as National Treasures

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Directions To Destination

Note: all prices below are 2011.

From Tokyo to Haroshima:
- By shinkansen trains: Tokyo and Hiroshima are connected by the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen. It takes about four hours to reach Hiroshima from Tokyo by Direct nozomi trains. By hikari trains, the trip takes about five hours with one transfer of trains at Shin-Osaka Station. The regular one way fare from Tokyo to Hiroshima is $210 (¥17,540) by non-reserved seat on any train, around $220 (¥18,000) by reserved seat on hikari trains and around $220 (¥18,500) by reserved seat on a nozomi train.

- By bus: it takes 12 hours to get to Hiroshima from Tokyo by direct bus. The cost ranges from $25 (¥2,000) to $140 (¥11,640).

- By plain: JAL and ANA airlines operate several flights per day between Hiroshima and Tokyo Haneda Airport. The regular one way ticket is around $375 (¥31,000), but discount tickets can bring the cost down to around $180 (¥15,000) - $205 (¥17,000). It takes 90 minutes to get to Hiroshima by plain and from airport to city center 50 minutes by bus $15.70 (¥1,300).
From Hiroshima to Miyajima (Itsukushima Shrine):
- By train and ferry: from JR Hiroshima Station, take the JR Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station (25 minutes, $4.80 or ¥400 one way, covered by the Japan Rail Pass). Alternatively, you can take tram line number 2 from central Hiroshima bound for Miyajimaguchi. The tram is slower, but costs $3.25 (¥270) one way (not covered by the Japan Rail Pass). From Miyajimaguchi Station, a short walk will lead you to the ferry pier from where ferries depart frequently for Miyajima. The ferry ride takes 10 minutes and cost $2 (¥170) one way. There are two competing ferry companies: JR and Matsudai. The Japan Rail Pass is valid on JR ferries.

- By direct boat: boats also connect Miyajima directly with Hiroshima Peace Park (55 minutes, $23 or ¥1,900 one way, 3-9 round trips per day) and Hiroshima Port (30 minutes, $17.60 or ¥1,460 one way, 6-8 round trips per day). The Japan Rail Pass is not valid on these boats.

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Best Time To Go

All year round. The best time of the year is early spring and early autumn.

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Where To Stay

Note: all prices below are 2011.

- Benten no Yado Itsukushima - rates from $300 (¥24,990) - located near Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, some rooms have the Torii gate views.
- Miyajima Grand Hotel Arimoto - rates from $200 (¥16,800) - located on Miyajima Island.
- Hotel Active Hiroshima - rates from $70 (¥6,000) per night for a single occupancy. The hotel has city Hiroshima central location close to shopping and tram stop. Research and book hotels in or near Haroshima, Japan

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Activities

Sightseeing.

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Useful Visitor Information and Tips

Note: all prices below are 2011.

The shrine open hours: 6:30 am to 17:30 pm (17:00 pm in December and 18:00 pm in spring) without closing days.

Admission fee: $3.60 (¥300)

You will need at least two hours to see Itsukushima Shrine. Some people bring snacks with them from the city (on the island they may be expensive).

Hiroshima has Japan largest tram network, with eight tram lines connecting Hiroshima Station with most of the city attractions. Tram line # 2 goes as far as Miyajimaguchi, where ferries depart to the island of Miyajima. The fare for single tram ride within central Hiroshima is a flat $1.80 (¥150), which you pay when exiting the tram. A one-day card for unlimited use of trams on the entire network for one day is available for $7.20 (¥600). For additional $2.90 (¥240), you get a one-day card that also includes the ferry ride to Miyajima. If you want to buy a two-day card valid on trams, the ferry and Miyajima Ropeway (aerial lift in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima which consists of two lines and climbs Mount Misen of Miyajima Island), it is available for $24 (¥2,000).

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Additional Information

Tags: ancient architecture (18); ancient monument (7); art and culture (26); Hatsukaichi; Heritage site (22); Hiroshima; history (31); island of Itsukushima; Itsukushima-jinja; Itsukushima Shrine; Japan (2); Miyajima; Religion (18); Religious architecture (17); Shinto; Shinto religion; Shinto shrine; Shrine (10); torii; UNESCO World Heritage Site (19)

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