|Itsukushima Shinto Shrine|
|Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List|
|Criteria||i, ii, iv, vi|
|Inscription||1996 (20th Session)|
Itsukushima Shrine (Japanese: 厳島神社 Itsukushima-jinja) is a Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima), best known for its famous "floating" torii gate. It is in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan. The shrine complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Japanese government has designated several buildings and possessions as National Treasures.
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, and follows the earlier 12th century design. That design was established in 1168, when funds were provided by the warlord Taira no Kiyomori.
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.
Near the main shrine is a noh stage which dates from 1590. Noh theater performances have long been used to pay homage to the gods, and ritually act out key events in the mythic history of Shinto belief.
The dramatic gate, or torii, of Itsukushima Shrine is one of Japan's most popular tourist attractions, and the most recognizable and celebrated feature of the Itsukushima shrine, 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). Although a gate has been in place since 1168, the current gate dates back to 1875. The gate, built of decay-resistant camphor wood, is about 16 metres high; the placement of an additional leg before and behind each main pillar identifies the torii as reflecting the style of Ryōbu Shintō (dual Shinto), a medieval school of esoteric Japanese Buddhism associated with the Shingon Sect.
The torii only appears to be floating at high tide; when the tide is low, it is approachable 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. Many locals add the shellfish they gather to their miso soup. At night, powerful lights on the shore illuminate the torii.
On September 5, 2004, the shrine was severely damaged by Typhoon Songda. The boardwalks and roof were partially destroyed, and the shrine was temporarily closed for repairs.
Religious significance 
The shrine is dedicated to the three daughters of Susano-o no Mikoto, Shinto deity of seas and storms and brother of the great sun deity, Amaterasu (tutelary deity of the Imperial Household). Because the island itself has been considered sacred, in order to maintain its purity commoners were not allowed to set foot on Miyajima through much of its history. In order 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, and therefore existed in a liminal state between the sacred and the profane. The shrine's signature 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 the shrine. To this day, pregnant women are supposed to retreat to the mainland as the day of delivery approaches, as are terminally ill or the very elderly whose passing has become imminent. Burials on the island are still forbidden.
See also 
- List of National Treasures of Japan (crafts-others)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (crafts-swords)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (paintings)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (shrines)
- List of National Treasures of Japan (writings)
- List of Shinto shrines
- List of World Heritage Sites in Japan
- Modern system of ranked Shinto Shrines
- Mont Saint-Michel, a sister city and a similar island-temple UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Three Views of Japan
- Tourism in Japan
- Twenty-Two Shrines
- Hiroshima to Honolulu Friendship Torii (Itsukushima Replica)
The torii at low tide
Barrels of sake in one of the shrine's "floating" buildings
Itsukushima Shrine Family Crest
- Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Itsukushima-jinja" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 407.
- "Nationwide List of Ichinomiya," p. 3; retrieved 2012-11-20.
- Mason, Penelope (2004), Itsukushima Shinto Shrine "UNESCO's World Heritage Site", in Dimwiddle, Donald, History of Japanese Art (2nd ed.)
- "Japan Sightseeing Guide". japan-guide.com - Japan Travel and Living Guide. japan-guide.com. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
- Turner, Victor W. (1969). The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-structure. Chicago: Aldine Pub.
- "Itsukushima". GoJapanGo. 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Itsukushima Shrine|
- UNESCO World Heritage description
- Official Website of Miyajima Tourism
- Miyajima Guide including Itsukushima Shrine
- National Archives of Japan: Itsukushima kakei