Japan, Chugoku Region, Hiroshima Prefecture, Miyajima, View of Itsukushima Shrine in autumn. (Photo by: JTB/UIG via Getty Images) (Photo by: JTB Photo/UIG via Getty Images)

UIG via Getty Images


Top choice in Miyajima

With origins as far back as the late 6th century, Itsukushima-jinja gives Miyajima its real name. The shrine's unique and attractive pier-like construction is a result of the island's sacred status: commoners were not allowed to set foot on the island and had to approach by boat through the torii (shrine gate) in the bay. Much of the time, though, the shrine and torii are surrounded by mud. Note that the torii is undergoing repairs from June 2019, expected to last 2–3 years.

The shrine's present form dates from 1168, when it was rebuilt under the patronage of Taira no Kiyomori, head of the doomed Heike clan. On one side of the shrine is a floating nō stage, built by local lord Asano Tsunanaga in 1680 and still used for (stylised dance-drama) performances every year from 16 to 18 April, as part of the Toka-sai Festival.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Miyajima attractions

1. Floating Nō Stage

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On one side of Itsukushima-jinja is a floating nō stage, built by local lord Asano Tsunanaga in 1680 and still used for nō (stylised dance-drama)…

2. Senjō-kaku


Dominating the hill immediately to the north of Itsukushima-jinja is this huge pavilion, built in 1587 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The atmospheric hall is…

3. Daigan-ji


Miyajima has several important Buddhist temples, including the 1201 Daigan-ji, which dates back to the Heian period and is dedicated to Benzaiten, the…

4. Floating Torii

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This 16m-tall vermilion torii (shrine gate) is a symbol of Miyajima and the watery entrance to World Heritage shrine Itsukushima-jinja. At high tide, it…

5. Miyajima History & Folklore Museum

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Set in a fine garden, this museum combines a 19th-century merchant house with exhibitions on trade in the Edo period, as well as displays connected with…

6. Momiji-dani-kōen

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Momiji means 'maple', and their leaves come alive during autumn in this pretty park along the river.

7. Tahō-tō

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South of Itsukushima-jinja, stone steps (before you reach Miyajima History & Folklore Museum) lead up from the road to this picturesque pagoda. There's a…

8. Daishō-in

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Just south of town at the foot of Misen, Daishō-in is a worthwhile stopping point on the way up or down the mountain. This Shingon temple is crowded with…