Next stop on our whistle stop tour is Itsukushima, also known as Miyajima, a small island in Hiroshima Bay.
We hopped on the JR ferry for the short trip across the bay to the island. You can get a ticket as part of the Japan Rail Pass so bonus for us!
Just offshore, a giant, orange Grand Torii Gate stands and marks the entrance to the 12th century Itsukushima Shrine.
The Torii gate here is ranked as one of Japan’s three best views.
Sadly for us it’s a) a bit misty and b) being repaired so has rather unsightly scaffolding spoiling it a bit!
As well as the Torii gate, the island is also well know for its tame deer that wander the streets.
These delicate little creatures are almost totally dependant on tourists for food.
This means that they are not only fearless, but also quite persistent . . I nearly lost our guide book to one very nibbley specimen!
Man versus spindly legged beast, it’s a tense standoff!
A bit of general knowledge about the impressive red gate that is the symbol of the island now.
The great Torii gate is the boundary between the spirit and the human worlds.
The first Otorii of Itsukushima Shrine was constructed in 1168 and was built about 200 meters offshore.
The base of the great Torii is not buried deep in the seabed, but stands by its own weight.
The sun and the moon are painted on the east and the west of the Otorii roof. Because the northeasterly direction is considered to be the demon’s gate in Feng Shui, the painted sun is said to block this demon’s gate.
The gate is a brilliant red pigment known as vermilion and originally made from the powdered mineral cinnabar.
This vermilion colour is considered to keep evil spirits away.
Next up we visit the beautiful ‘floating’ Itsukushima Shrine. Retaining the purity of the shrine is so important that since 1878, no deaths or births have been permitted near it.