MIYAJIMA ISLAND

Itsukushima (厳島) is an island in the western part of the Inland Sea of Japan, located in the northwest of Hiroshima Bay. It is popularly known as Miyajima (宮島), which in Japanese means “Shrine Island”. The island is one of Hayashi Gahō‘s Three Views of Japan specified in 1643. Itsukushima is part of the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture. The island was part of the former town of Miyajima before the 2005 merger with Hatsukaichi.

Itsukushima is famous for the Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to records, the shrine was established in the time of Empress Suiko. The warrior-courtier Taira no Kiyomori gave the shrine its present form. In 1555, Mōri Motonari defeated Sue Harukata at the Battle of Miyajima. Toyotomi Hideyoshi built a large building, the Senjō-kaku, on a hill above the shrine.

Itsukushima has a number of temples, including Toyokuni Shrine with a five-storied pagoda, and Daiganji Temple – one of the three most famous Benzaiten temples of Japan. The island is also famous for its upper hill side cherry blossoms and maple leaf autumn foliage.

The island of Itsukushima, including the waters around it (part of Seto Inland Sea), are within Setonaikai National Park. This sea is affected by strong tides. At low tide, the bottom of the sea is exposed past the island’s torii. At high tide, the sea covers all the previously exposed seabed mud and fills areas underneath the shrine boardwalk.

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