Art(h) In Movement: Miyajima
After 2 intense days in Hiroshima filled with history classes, I was ready for a much lighter tour. I headed the farthest point I would reach in Japan (this time!). Miyajima is not so far from Hiroshima Bay. It takes only a few minutes on a ferry to reach the island famous for the Itsukushima Shrine (a UNESCO world heritage site).
The sky was not blue, but neither was there any sign of rain. It was very hot (around 36°C) and very humid.
From the ferry it was already possible to see the shrine – believed to provide safekeeping for sacred objects, buildings and territory.
Arriving on the island, the shrine was our first stop. We wanted to get a closer look at the shrine – so far away from us at this point it just looked like a little red blur on our cameras. Ta-da:
Here we are.
The first shrine building was erected in the 6th century but it has been destroyed many times. The one that stands here now is from the mid-16thcentury. Because the island has been considered sacred, commoners were not allowed to set foot on it before recently, in order to maintain its purity. This shrine is dedicated to the 3 daughters of the Shinto god of seas and storms, and brother of the sun goddess. During high tide, the gate leaves the impression that it’s floating and is impossible to approach on foot.
After admiring this beauty, we went searching for a restaurant. It was already lunch time and we wanted to have some food before exploring the island. That’s when we came across this other beauty, apparently also excited to have some food.
But the doors didn’t open for him (and finally I understood why the doors in this island had a “push” button to slide open, instead of the usual sensor that just opens the door while you walk in).
One man’s happiness is another man’s dear’s sadness. Lunch time. I’m not a huge fan of seafood and even though there were fishless dishes, the options weren’t very appealing to me. I had to go veggie:
Yes. My lunch was basically rice, cucumber and some tofu. Not very substantial but before you say you’re sorry for me, I can tell you it was delicious (and the sake, hiding discreetly in the corner, was totally amazing). Anyway… time to go. Along the way we met so many deer, they were everywhere! And they are so cute, I couldn’t help but take pictures of them the whole time.
Wandering around the village is so nice. It’s a very calm place surrounded by virgin forest. You can hear the river water running down the mountains, the birds singing and the fish jumping. The houses and stores are very well conserved in traditional style.
Miyajima is not so big, so it’s fair to say one day is enough to visit the most important places. It’s also important to mention the sighting of this beautiful temple:
And this five-storied Pagoda constructed in 1407:
The main deity enshrined here is the Buddha of Medicine. This structure is said to be one of only five examples in Japan. It resists horizontal oscillation caused by earthquakes and typhoons. The pagoda is 27.6 meters high and its roof is covered with layers of Japanese cypress bark shingles.
On the way back to the centre of the village we had quick pauses to observe more of the buildings around us and we were surprised to see that the tide went a bit higher, already making it impossible to be as close to the shrine as we were before.
It was a beautiful day trip, and if anyone asks me if I recommend a trip to Miyajima, the answer is: definitely.