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World Heritage / Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

Criteria: (i) (ii) (iv) (vi) | Date of Inscription: 1996 | Location: Hiroshima Prefecture | Justification for Inscription


Things to see

Otorii (The Great Gate)
Otorii (The Great Gate)
Honsha-honden (Main Shrine)
Honsha-honden (Main Shrine)
Itsukushima Shinto Shrine in Spring
Itsukushima Shinto Shrine in Spring
Otorii (The Great Gate)
The Otorii seen standing in the sea off Hiroshima is a well known symbol of Itskushima Shinto Shrine. It is said to have been in existence by the Heian era yet the style at that time has not been identified. The current otorii, the eighth, was erected in July 1875 at a height of 16m. Surprisingly, the gate doesn't penetrate the sea bed nor does it have pillars. Rather, the gate but supports itself using its own weight. At low tide you can even walk to the otorii.
Honsha-honden (Main Shrine)
The current building was reconstructed by Mori Motonari, then lord of the Hiroshima area in 1571. This splendid building differs from other typical shrines by featuring Shinden style architecture, a style used in building the residences of the aristocracy during the Heian years.
Hira-butai (Flat Stage)
Hira-butai is a 554square meter stage placed in front of the Honsha-honden. Standing atop the stage you can see the vivid colors of the blue sea, the red 'otorii' and the green mountains behind. The front area that protrudes into the sea is called "Hitasaki," and is used for the arrival and departure of boats during the "Kangen-sai" (Music Festival). Hira-butai and Hitasaki are supported by 239 stones that were gifts of Mori Motonari in the 16th century.
Taka-butai (High Stage)
Taka-butai is a stage specially built for Noh performances and is located in the center of Hira-butai. The current stage was constructed in 1546 making it over 450-years-old.
Noh-butai (Noh stage)
Noh-butai is Japan's only Noh stage to be found on the surface of the sea and was constructed in 1680. It is common to set a jar of water beneath the floor of regular Noh stages for the resonance effect this brings but such a method is unnecessary here due to the natural water to be found flowing by. In addition, the floor panels are constructed to enhance this effect. When a dancer beats time with his foot on the stage the sounds echo widely although the sounds do change delicately with the coming and going of the tide.
Itsukushima Jinja Homotsukan
(Itsukushima Shinto Shrine Treasures Museum)
Itsukushima Jinja Homotsukan offers arts and crafts produced in the late Heian era. About 130 items in the collection are national treasures or important cultural properties. The most famous treasure is the "Heike Nokyo." It is the name for the sutras made by Lord Tairano Kiyomori and his Heishi family and was created in 1164. The sutras are splendid works of art adorned with beautiful paintings and letters and are decorated with dyed paper and gold and silver leaves.
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