Sunday, September 2, 2012

Miyajima, Itsukushima and Daisho-in

After visiting the Kibitsu shrine, we headed to Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima. This is an island that is home to both Itsukushima shrine and Daisho-in temple. We took the ferry to the island, and the gate (torii) to Itsukushima-jinja is obvious as it stands in the water during high tide.

 The gate, torii, stands prominently in the water with the shrine buildings in the background as we approach Miyajima.
 The second thing I noticed was the deer. They were everywhere, and with no fear of people. The local vendors use to sell food for people to give to the deer, but they have changed the laws and feeding the deer is no longer allowed.
 Begging for food
And just hanging around

Along the path to the shrine and temple, we passed the largest rice scooper in the world. This is 7.7 meters (25.26 feet) long, 2.7 meters (8.86 feet) wide at its widest point, and weighs 2.5 tonnes (5,511 lbs).

 First we headed to Daisho-in temple. Along the way I found this sign amusing. It reads "10 minute walk (7 if run a little)..."
 We reached Daisho-in. Within the temple there is a flame that has supposedly been burning since the founding of the temple over 1200 years ago. In the 12th century Emperor Toba founded his prayer hall here. 
 Along the stairs there were rollers. The first you encounter are the Dai-hannyako Sutra (two pictures below). Those pictured to the left are Mani wheels. Spinning a wheel is said to be equivalent to the blessings gained by reading one volume of the Hannaya-shinkyo (Heart Sutra). Of course I had to spin all of them. On the way up and on the way back down we spun all the wheels of the Dai-hannyako Sutra. 600 volumes of this scripture were brought from India by by a Chinese monk. It is said that spinning these wheels, which represent the Sutra, will bring you enormous fortune. And with that we headed back down the mountain to Itsukushima-jinja.

 A statue of a monk.

 Back at Itsukushima-jinja the gate, or torii, stands in the water as it is high tide. The island has been sacred since ancient times. Commoners were not allowed to set foot on the island so the shrine is built as a pier.
 The pagoda to the shrine.
 As you can see the shrine is built like a pier, out in the water. It is believed the shrine was originally established in the 6th century. It has been rebuilt a number of times due to damage, and the version we see today is believed to have been built in the 16th century, but following a design that was established in 1168.

 The gate is noticeable from almost any location in the shrine.
 The gate, torii, as viewed through a window in the music pavilion.

 The gate, or torii, as viewed through the Haraiden (purification hall).

Our final view before heading back to the ferry. It was high tide, so the gate was in the water. Those who visit during low tide can walk out to the gate, or torii.

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