Just 45 minutes by streetcar from Hiroshima city, and a short ferry ride across Hiroshima Bay, lies one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Japan – Itsukushima island, also known as Miyajima, the Shrine Island. Famous for its dense forests and ancient temples, it is also home to Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社) and its iconic Great Torii gate Otorii, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.
Established as early as the 12th century, this Shinto shrine is constructed on pier-like structures so as to appear to be floating on the water, separate from the island itself. During high tide, the Great Torii appears suspended on the water, the most recognizable and celebrated feature of the shrine. At low tide, the gate is approachable by foot for a closer look.
Most visitors head to Miyajima for a short day trip, but staying overnight allows you wander the island when all the crowds have left, and also lets you experience this beautiful shrine at low and high tides, and a under variety of lighting conditions. It’s little wonder that the Itsukushima is one of the Three Views of Japan, an official list of the country’s most celebrated scenic sites first selected in 1643.