Cultural Beauty – Miyajima

It suddenly occurred to me that I have only written one blog about Japan, which really is sacrilege, as it was one of the best surprise experiences in the a wandering memory collection.

My previous blog concentrated on the wonderful experience of seeing the elusive Japanese Geishas of Kyoto. This piece will head further south to the island of Miyajima, which itself is a short train ride from Hiroshima. Actually the island itself is called Itsukushima; however everyone refers to it as Miyajima – which means translates to ‘Shrine Island’.

It is that shrine (the UNESCO World Heritage Itsukushima Shrine) which is the island’s crowning glory. I believe the history around the shrines construction is very vague, but estimates place it in originally in the 6th century, however I remember reading that it’s been rebuilt a number of times, due to fire, flood and other natural forces.

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The shrine you see today dates from the 16th century, and it’s just a wondrous site. Situated on stilts in the bay, at high tide the shrine appears to literally float on top of the island waters. But at low tide you could walk from the iconic gate all the way to the shrine on the sand. Both views are just incredible and witnessing the tide come in, is quite scary as it seems to rise in the blink of an eye.

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My personal choice would be to see it’s at high tide, as seeing witnessing the floating illusion is just magical.

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The Itsukushima shrine’s gate that I previously referred too, is one of Japan’s most visited locations. Internationally renowned as one of the 3 most iconic images of Japan, the gate lights up at night which then reflects off the tidal waters to create a magical image. It really does personify the beauty, history and culture of this incredible country.

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Our trip to the island was during winter; therefore we missed the cherry tree blossom the island is also famous for. However the cold just added to the experience, wrapped up all warm, Megan and I explored the shrine, the gate and the pagodas of the island. It was quiet, and I distinctively remember the fresh cold air and the serenity that surrounded the shrine and the island in general. We timed it so that we could see the contrast between day and night, and it worked perfectly. Witnessing the lights and tidal changes that Miyajima has to offer was simply a captivating Wandering Memory experience.

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I hope you one day get to witness this incredible Japanese highlight, as it is a place that resonated with me – so peaceful and so wondrous.

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