As part of our trip south to Hiroshima, we spent a day at nearby Miyajima Island. Just a short 20 minute boat ride away from our hotel, we entered another world on this heavily touristed yet peaceful island.
Miyajima is a sacred island and according to Fromers, no one is permitted to die or give birth there. There are no cemeteries or maternity wards. Also, one may not cut down trees.
In any case, the place is most famous for the floating Torii , a 50 foot high vermillion gate leading to Itsukushima Shrine. At low tide you can walk up to the Torii but at high tide, the gate appears to float in the water, casting reflections and highlighting spectacular sunsets. Itsukushima Shrine was founded in 593 and is built on stilts. As the tide laps in and out, the entire structure also takes on the appearance of floating in the bay.
The shrine and torii were stunning but I really enjoyed a visit to the Daisho-in Temple. It's actually a whimsical place with playful statuaries interspersed with more traditional collections. We saw two buddhist monks painstakingly creating a sand mandala. After my quick tour of the temple grounds, I hoofed it back to the pier to catch our boat back with only seconds to spare.
View of the Torii from Itsukushima Shrine - low tide
Itsukushima Shrine - low tide
Rooftops of Daisho-in with mountains and Hiroshima Harbor in the distance
Who are these guys?
And these guys?
Creating the Mandala (Tibetan Buddhist "sand painting")
Millions of grains of sand are laid out over days or even weeks into a spiritual design. The tool in the photo is a chak-pur. It holds the sand. The second tool is rubbed over the chak-pur and the vibration causes the sand to flow out like liquid. Mandalas are usually destroyed soon after they are finished to emphasize the impermanence of life.