Itsukushima, the Shrine That Floats in the Sea

Everybody has seen the images of the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine over the sea.

The breathtaking scenery of Itsukushima Shrine may be one of the prettiest landmarks of Japan, and therefore listed as the UNESCO World Heritages sites.

Itsukushima ShrineItsukushima Shrine is a Shinto Shrine located in Hiroshima Prefecture, Miyajima, and represents the architectural beauty of the Heian era.

With about 1400 years of history, the massive 16m tall torii (gate) of the Itsukushima Shrine is the main attraction to the shrine, and when the tide is low, we are able to walk through the torii. When the tide is high, we are able to view the torii as if it’s floating in the sea, which is a magnificent sight to see.

Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima Shrine

In Buddhism, it was believed that when people deceased, their souls are passed over to the “next world” by boats.



The current main shrine of Itsukushima Shrine, was rebuilt in 1571.

The Munakata Three Goddess are enshrined at the main shrine. The Three Goddesses refers to Princess Ichigojima, Himeno Tani, and Himezu Himeyomi.


The architecture of Itsukushima Shrine is unique, compared to many shrines of Japan. There is wood that intersects at the end of the roof, and few that is perpendicular. Such details are visible once visiting and comparing shrines of Japan.


In the Haraiden, visitors can “purify their minds and body” before praying. Here, the ceilings are decorated in lattice and coved.

There are three ponds referred to as “Mirror pond” that lay around Itsukushima Shrine. It was told that the ponds were created one night when the shrine was first built. Therefore, people were convinced the shrine suited as the deity of the gods.



The Itsukushima Shrine also consists of a flat stage, that lay in front of the main hall.

itsukushimaIn 1176, Hiramon Iemon was worshiped at the flat stage and gathered 1,000 priests for the ceremony.  The stage was used to perform dances, which are still used today. “Bugaku”, a traditional Japanese dance, began during this period.



Much entertainment goes on at Itsukushima Shrine, as the first Noh play at the shrine was performed in 1568. In the autumn, tea ceremonies can be held here, and tea is offered to the goddesses.

Image of Noh
Image of Noh


When in Miyajima, you will discover that there is a lot more to the national treasure. The complex, detailed beauty of the shrine, becoming one with the sea, it’s not hard to believe that this was a providence to the gods. Itsukushima Shrine is a place where Japanese culture and nature become one, creating a stunning landscape.

Remember, there are festivals, events, and fireworks often going on to celebrate Japanese culture, in Miyajima. If you are interested in visiting Miyajima at the best times, please send us and enquiry.



If you are interested in Miyajima tours,  please click here!









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