I’ve decided to compile some facts about Miyajima.
I visited Miyajima (which means Shrine Island in Japanese) a couple of years ago and was instantly captivated by the breathtaking scenery and fascinating history of the island.
Surrounded by the turquoise calm of the Seto Inland Sea, a red torii (a traditional Japanese gate) rises out of the water so that it appears to be floating. The purpose of a torii is to symbolically mark the transition from the earthly to the sacred.
In 1643, the scholar Hayashi Gaho included Miyajima in his ‘The Three Views of Japan’, a list of Japan’s three most beautiful places.
The Shinto religion places a lot of emphasis on nature, so it is no surprise that Miyajima, which is known to be the home of the gods, was built in this natural paradise.
Due to respect for these gods, nobody lived on the island for more than a thousand years and nothing was built there, meaning that even the shrine and the torii were built on the water rather than on the land.
When people started to live on the island, it was forbidden to die or be buried on the sacred land, and even nowadays there are no hospitals or graveyards there for this reason.
What makes this island really unique is that there are so many deer wandering everywhere. They have lived on the island for more than six thousand years, and are allowed to roam free because the Shinto religion regards them as messengers of the gods who live there. They are surprisingly friendly and not afraid to mix with the crowds of tourists which visit the island every year.
Miyajima is also famous for having the biggest rice paddle in the world!