Itsukushima (Miyajima) - 厳島(宮島)

The second day of my trip to Hiroshima I traveled to Itsukushima, or commonly known as Miyajima.

Itsukushima is a holy island that is home to Itsukushima Shrine. There are small towns on the island, but because it is mountainous and rural there are no traffic signals and a population of only 2000. The locals take great care to preserve the forests and nature of the island and it is often frequented by not only tourists, but religious pilgrims as well. 

As you see from the photo above, it is home to the famous "Floating Torii Gate". Because the island is affected by various high and low tides, the gate can either be seen as "floating" in the water, or standing in the mud. It's very surreal to see it upon arrival.

To get there, I had to take a ferry to the island from the town of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture. The first thing you notice is the torii gate and Mt. Misen. After arriving at the ferry station, one of the first things you notice when you step out is the number of deer that are just roaming around. The island has numerous deer and they are not afraid of people, nor are they particularly shy. I had to laugh when a group of tourists were trying to get a scenic photo taken was constantly interrupted by deer walking up to them and begging for food pellets. 

Itsukushima Shrine is also affected by the tides and it too can appear to float above the water at high tide. When I arrived early in the day, it was just mud, but later in the evening the high tide came in and it was quite beautiful to see. There are numerous shrines throughout the island as well, some had what had to be thousands of small Buddha statues along the paths that was quite a sight to see. 

After walking through the town and visiting a few shrines, I decided to ascend Mt. Misen. I was not expecting to climb a mountain that day, but it was fun nonetheless. It was not a difficult mountain to climb and it provided steps most of the way to the summit. What I found particularly interesting were the hidden shrines on the mountain. If you took unmarked paths it would lead you to small shrines hidden among the forests and on the edges of the cliffs. 

Close to the summit, I stopped at a small building that must have had about 30 monkeys fast asleep outside. I had never seen anything like it, the monkeys were just laying around on benches, chairs, ladders, and agains the walls of the building, taking an afternoon snooze. When I walked close to them they just sort of opened one eye to look at me and fell right back to sleep. There were even monkeys using one of the deer as a pillow. 

Once I reached the summit, I found the view of the surrounding islands to be very beautiful. I was lucky enough to have a clear, sunny day that was not hazy at all. You could see for miles and miles surrounding the island with a view of other small islands with their own shrines.

On my way back down, I encountered a group of deer that had two bucks locking horns, all the while not paying any heed to the human walking by. 

On my way off of the island, I noticed the high tide had come in and was met with more beautiful scenery. I stopped at a small restaurant before I boarded the ferry and noticed what had to be the world's largest rice spatula sitting just outside. 

If you travel to Hiroshima, definitely make the short trip to Itsukushima. Here are all of the photos I took of the trip:

Itsukushima (Miyajima) - 厳島(宮島) Itsukushima (Miyajima) - 厳島(宮島) Reviewed by Shea Roberts on 7:48 PM Rating: 5
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