The Itsukushima Shrine reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Itsukushima Shrine

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The floating torii of Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima IslandEnlarge

The floating torii of Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima Island

Itsukushima Shrine (Japanese: 厳島神社, Itsukushima Jinja) is a shinto shrine on Miyajima Island (more correctly known as Itsukushima Island) in Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan.

The shrine dates back to the 6th century, and has been in its present form since 1168 when funds were provided by the warlord Taira no Kiyomori. The shrine's construction, consisting of pier-like structures built over the bay, is due to the holy status that the island once commanded. Commoners were historically not allowed to set foot on the island, and had to approach by boat, entering through the floating gate. Beside the shrine is a floating noh stage.

The floating gate of Itsukushima Shrine is one of Japan's most popular tourist attractions, and the view of the gate in front of the island's Mount Misen is classified as one of Japan's "three best views" (along with the sand bar Amanohashidate, and Matsushima Bay). The gate has been in existence since 1168, though the current gate dates back to 1875. The gate is about 16 metres high, and has a four-legged (yo-tsuashi) style to provide additional stability.

The gate only appears to be floating at high tide - when the tide is low, the gate is surrounded by mud and can be accessed on foot from the island.

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