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P127 - Japan - Itsukushima Shrine

Itsukushima Shinto Shrine, Hatsukaichi , Japan ( UNESCO WHS )

Itsukushima Shrine (Japanese: 厳島神社, Itsukushima Jinja) is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima) in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Japanese government has designated several buildings and possessions as national treasures.

The shrine is dedicated to the three daughters of the Shinto deity Susano-o no Mikoto, brother of the great sun deity, Amaterasu (the tutelary deity of the Imperial household). The first shrine buildings were probably erected in the 6th century, and the shrine has been destroyed many times. The present shrine dates from the mid-16th century, having been rebuilt in keeping with its earlier 12th century design.

The current sixteenth century shrine follows the design established in 1168, when funds were provided by the warlord Taira no Kiyomori. The shrine's construction, consisting of pier-like structures built over the bay, is due to the holy status that the island once commanded. Commoners were historically not allowed to set foot on the island, and had to approach by boat, entering through the gate that appears to float. Beside the shrine is a noh stage.

The dramatic gate (torii) of Itsukushima Shrine is one of Japan's most popular tourist attractions, and the view of the gate in front of the island's Mount Misen is classified as one of the Three Views of Japan (along with the sand bar Amanohashidate, and Matsushima Bay). The gate has existed since 1168, though the current gate dates back to 1875. The gate, built of camphor wood, is about 16 metres high and was built in a four-legged style to provide additional stability.

The gate only appears to be floating at high tide; when the tide is low, the gate is surrounded by mud and can be accessed by foot from the island. It is common practice for visitors to place coins in the cracks of the legs of the gate and make a wish. Gathering shellfish near the gate is also popular at low tide. At night, powerful lights on the shore illuminate the gate.

Retaining the purity of the shrine is so important that since 1878, no deaths or births were permitted at the shrine.[citation needed] To this day, burials on the island are still forbidden.

On September 5, 2004, the shrine was severely damaged by Typhoon Songda. The boardwalks and roof were partially destroyed, leading to its temporary closure.


References sources : Wikipedia

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