Torii Gate at Itsukushima Shrine in Japan

Torii Gate at Itsukushima Shrine in Japan

This month I have been exploring the “Motherland” of haiku and Tanka, Japan.

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Photo Credit – Itsukushima Shrine, Hiroshima, Japan

Today I’m taking a look at Itsukushima Shrine and the Torii Gate in Japan, one of the three most beautiful sites in Japan.

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Photo Credit – Itsukushima Gate.

The torii gate – the presence of a torii at entrances is usually the simplest way to identify Shinto shrines

Itsukushima Shrine is a Shinto Shrine (which is a Japanese ethnic religion, it focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past), and it’s on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima), in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, best known for its “floating” torii gate.

The shrine complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The torii appears to be floating only at high tide. When the tide is low, it is approachable by foot from the island.

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Photo Credit – Torii low tide, from the inside of the shrine.

The shrine was designed and built on pier-like structures over the bay so that it would appear to be floating on the water, separate from the sacred island, which could be approached by the devout.

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Photo Credit – Itsukushima floating shrine.

A “floating” building (Haraiden purification hall of the Marōdo auxiliary shrine) at Itsukushima Shrine

Because the island itself has been considered sacred, commoners were not allowed to set foot on it throughout much of its history to maintain its purity.

To allow pilgrims to approach, the shrine was built like a pier over the water, so that it appeared to float, separate from the land.

The red entrance gate, or torii, was built over the water for much the same reason.

Commoners had to steer their boats through the torii before approaching the shrine.

Retaining the purity of the shrine is so important that since 1878, no deaths or births have been permitted near it.

To this day, pregnant women are supposed to retreat to the mainland as the day of delivery approaches, as are the terminally ill or the very elderly whose passing has become imminent.

Burials on the island are forbidden.

Originally it was a pure Shinto shrine “where no births or deaths were allowed to cause pollution.

My tanka poem using the study of Torii Gate at Itsukushima Shrine in Japan.

Itsukushima shrine

beautiful sacred island

torii gate famous

looks like floating on water

what about stormy weather

5 thoughts on “Torii Gate at Itsukushima Shrine in Japan

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