Miyajima and Itsukushima Shrine

^ Torii gate at Itsukushima shrine. Fun fact: it does not float, nor is it buried in the sand. The pillars holding it up are just so gosh darn heavy that they sit on the sea bed and stay put.

It makes me sad to think how we almost missed Miyajima (‘shrine island’) and it’s floating Itsukushima shrine. I had read somewhere that dusk is the most perfect time to be there and decided that I absolutely had to see the floating torii gate lit up at night over the water. We delayed our ferry journey and squeezed a (dull) trip to Iwakuni in on the morning we were due to head to Miyajima.

When we finally arrived on the island in the late afternoon there was a mass exodus in progress, everything was shutting down. Plus it was raining, great. We barrelled our way towards the shrine hoping to make last admissions, which we did…

^ Looking through the shrine to the torii gate

^ Many of the Shinto shrines seemed to have a serious stash of saké. Saké has a lot of religious and ceremonial significance and saké brewers like to donate saké to the shrines for use at religious festivals. In return the shrines pray for the prosperity of the brewers. Check out an explainer here.

…It’s safe to say the shrine was breathtakingly beautiful, even before dusk set in. While waiting for the light to fall we wandered around and made friends with the locals…


While appearing adorable from a distance, they were frequently found in more compromising positions…


But don’t get my started on the deer, that’s a whole other story for a whole different blog post.

The island was so quiet and mysterious. Narrow paths wound their way up to the peak of the island with shrines hiding in the trees at every turn. Winding streams cut through the paths while little guardian statues watch over them. All around us we could hear bird song and deer squeaks (yes, squeaks!).


When the dark finally set in we made our way down hill towards the shrine. With so few people having chosen to stay we weren’t expecting much, but then we rounded a corner and saw this:


Worth it. See the rest of my Miyajima photos here.

P.S. If you are planning a trip to Miyajima try the Momiji! Mine didn’t last long enough to take a picture… I recommend the chocolate 😉

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