A popular spot that attracts close to 3 million visitors annually
The island that sits atop the Seto Inland Sea with a circumference of 30km has been worshipped as a deity since ancient times. Itsukushima Shrine which was constructed in the manner of Heian Era palatial architecture and the natural monument of the virgin forest of Mt. Misen have been registered as World Heritage sites, and make up about 14% of the entire island. Deer, monkeys, raccoons and other animals reside on the island, and it isn’t uncommon to even see them in the middle of town. Miyajima is considered alongside the Imperial palace of Matsushima and Kyoto’s Amanohashidate as one of the Three Views of Japan, and is a premier tourist destination of Japan that is visited by 3 million people annually.
Itsukushima Shrine, the symbol of Miyajima
Itsukushima Shrine is the head shrine for approximately 500 shrines all over Japan. The scene of the main building of the shrine (shaden) built in the middle of the sea against the backdrop of mountains is something that cannot be seen anywhere else. The shrine consists of 17 buildings and the 3 structures of the giant torii gate, the 5-story pagoda and the 2-story pagoda of which 6 buildings have been designated as National Treasures while 11 others and the 3 structures are Important Cultural Properties. Even among the surviving main shrine buildings in Japan, the shrine is the rare example of original architecture surviving to the present day.
Traditional events that have been passed down over the generations and spectacular events
There are various events held throughout the year on Miyajima. The Kangen-sai Festival held in June is the largest Shinto ritual for Itsukushima Shrine. Ancient court music and dance are performed, and along with a Goza boat crossing the sea, an image not unlike that of a Heian picture scroll is unfurled. In addition, you can view bugaku performances several times a year at Itsukushima Shrine, among which there are many worthy examples such as the Toka-sai and Kikka-sai ceremonies in spring and fall respectively. Plus, there is the Miyajima Water Fireworks Festival which was selected as one of the Top 100 Fireworks Festivals of Japan and is a summer custom on Miyajima. There is magic to the approximately 5000 fireworks that explode over the ocean.