【Hiroshima】It’s Not All About Itsukushima Shrine! A Guide to Miyajima’s Sightseeing Spots
Miyajima Island is a popular tourist destination in Hiroshima. It is famous for Itsukushima Shrine, which is a World Heritage Site, but there are many other spots that you should see in the region. With that, here are some of the recommended spots that will make you enjoy Miyajima even more!
1. Mt. Misen
Mt. Misen is the highest peak of Miyajima Island, having an elevation of about 535m. Countless strange rocks and bizarre stones, big and small, are scattered on this mountain, and they have been deified as objects of faith since ancient times. For that reason, much of the nature here remain untouched. In particular, the Misen Primeval Forest, the evergreen broad-leaved forest in the hinterland of Itsukushima Shrine, is home to various plants, and is said to be a microcosm of Japan's nature. This forest has been designated as a national natural treasure and a World Heritage Site. There are also temples on this mountain, such as Misen Hondo Hall, which has a history spanning more than 1,200 years, and Sankido Hall that enshrines the only demon god in Japan. Furthermore, there is an observation deck with a 360-degree panoramic view at the summit, treating visitors to a view of Seto Inland Sea, and even the Shikoku mountain range on a clear day.
2. Kiyomori Shrine
Kiyomori is a shrine that is located in Nishi-Matsubara, along the coast to the west of Itsukushima Shrine. The deity enshrined here is Taira no Kiyomori (1118 – 1181), a famous military commander that every Japanese knows. Leader of the Taira clan, he was a mighty commander who took full control of the Imperial Court. Kiyomori was actually the one who began the construction of the current stately Shaden (main building of the shrine) of Itsukushima Shrine. He also laid down the foundation to Miyajima's prosperity, so he continues to be loved by the local people to this day. This year, 2018, will mark a major milestone at this shrine as it will be the 900th year since the birth of Kiyomori. There will be various events held on the island to celebrate this occasion.
3. Toyokuni Shrine (Senjokaku and Goju-no-to)
Senjokaku (Toyokuni Shrine), the largest structure of Miyajima Island, was built in 1587 under the orders of the military commander Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536 – 1598). A portion of the shrine was never completed due to the death of Hideyoshi, but it still assumes a majestic appearance thanks to the luxurious designs such as the roof tiles adorned in gold foil.
Goju-no-to (five-storied pagoda) is a pagoda that sits beside Senjokaku. It is a 27.6m-high vermillion-painted building that was built in 1407, and is characterized by its architectural design that fuses Japanese and Chinese designs. It is such a picturesque structure, home to a lot of popular photography spots where you can take a photo of it with Itsukushima Shrine or an up-close shot, taken at an upward-looking angle.
Admission fee to Senjokaku: Adult/senior high school: 100 JPY, Elementary/junior high school: 50 JPY
Daisho-in is the oldest temple on Miyajima, with a history stretching back more than 1,200 years. It is the leading temple of the Omuro school of the Shingon sect, and boasts a prestigious status, as evidenced in its being chosen as the accommodation for the Emperor on his visit. This temple is characterized by the fact that it enshrines a lot of Buddhist images such as Juichi-men Kannon Bosatsu (11-headed Kannon) and Fudo Myoo (Acala, one of the Five Wisdom Kings). Inside, one of the things you have to see is the Ichigan Taishi. Said to be the Buddha that grants just one wish, this statue is very popular among worshippers. There are many other must-see spots inside the temple, including the Kannondo Hall, the largest structure within the temple precinct. It will take at least an hour to even just glance over the highlights of the temple.
5. Momijidani Park
Momijidani Park is sprawled along Momijidani River, at the foot of Mt. Misen. Famous as a spot for fall colors, there are about 700 Japanese maple trees planted here. Many tourists come to this park to view the autumn foliage during the peak viewing season from mid-November until late November. You can enjoy nature every season, as aside from the autumn leaves in the fall, the sakura (cherry blossoms) are also beautiful during spring and there is fresh verdure in summer. During early summer, the gorgeous view of Momiji Bridge at the entrance of the park is recommended. The beautiful contrast between the green trees and the vermilion bridge is not to be missed.
Aside from the spots featured above, there are many other attractive spots on Miyajima Island. Be sure to enjoy the whole island, and not just Itsukushima Shrine.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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