From ancient times, people have sensed the spiritual sanctity of Miyajima, and have reverd and worshipped the island itself as a god.
The main shrine is said to have been constructed in 593, the first year of the Empress Suiko.
The first record of Itsukushima Shrime in Japanese history was in the Nihon Koki(Notes on Japan), dated 881, and it was noted Itsukushima Shrine along with other famous shirines.
During the era of Taira-no-Kiyomori, it became a place of worship for the Heike clan, and around 1168, the main shirine building was constructed. As the power of the Heike clan increased,the number of worshippers at the shirine increased,the shrine itself began to become known among the members of the Imperial Court,
and its grandeur became more and more magnificent.
The emperor and the Impeiral Court paid visits to the shrine, and the culture of the Heian period was amiably incorporated. Bugaku, ancient Japanese musical court dance, also began during this period. Even after the fall of the Heike clan, the culture of the Heian period was warmly accepted by the Genji clan and the shirne continued to experience a stable and prosperous era.
Built in the sea, Itsukushima Shrine is worshipped as the guardian deity of the sea.
The Shirine is known for its unique construction, which displays the artistic beauty of the Shinden style of architecture.
Firtst buil in 593, it was remodeled into the present grand structure by Taira-No-Kiyomori in 1168.
Itsukushima Shrine is composed of a main shrine, a Noh drama stage, music rooms.
and several other shrines arranged aorund it.
All these structures are connected by corridors with a total length of about 300 meters.
Itsukushima Shrine was officially designated in December 1996 as a precious asset of world heritage.
As the headquarters of the Omuro Branch of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, Daishoin is the most distinguished temple of Miyajima, having been in charge of all the rituals as Betto(adminisrtator) of Itskushima Shirine prior to the Meiji Restoration(1868).
Fodo-myo-o, or Immovable King, is an incarnated figure of Dainichi Nyorai, or Cosmic Buddha.
The image is characterized by the fierce face to show his determination to destroy evil.
Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of three great unifiers of Japan in the 16th century,
prayed to this image for safety at sea and victory in battle.
Situated next to the exit of Itsukushima Shrine, this temple was in chage of the repair and construction of Itsukushima Shrine until the Meiji Restoration(1868).
The founder of this temple is not known though, Priest Ryokai and Priset Enkai are known to have contributed to prosperity of the temple.
Daiganji Temple is dedicated to Benzaiten, the Goddess of eloquence, music, wisdom and wealth, and is known as one of the three most famous Benzaiten Temples.
The Benzaiten is opened to the public only once a year on June 17.
Also, the statue of Yakushi Nyorai(Healing Buddha) in this temple is said to have been made by Kobo Daishi, who is the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism.
Miyajima ropeway, which connects Momijidani Park with Shishiiwa on Mt. Misen operates two types of aerial rope systems, circulating and reversible in series, which is unique in Japan.
As the gondola proceeds over the primeval forest, passengers can enjoy a wonderful view of the Seto Inland Sea and far-away mountain ranges of Shikoku on a clear day.
Coverd with pristine, primeval forests, Mt. Misen, the higtest peak on Miyajima, rises 535 meters above sea level.
The panoramic view from the top of the mountain is magnificent.
Mt. Misen has long been considered sacred and has various spiritual sites related to Kobo Daishi, the founder of the Shingon sect.
The Eternal Flame in the Reikado Hall, which was lit by him, is said to have been burning over 1200 years.
Momijidani Park extending along the quietly flowing Momijidani river is fresh and green in spring,
and has a cool breeze blowing constantly in summer.
In autumn, when the maple leaves turn red it's like the entire mountain is aflame.
Miyajima is famous for its maple leaves.
So it's only natural that its delicious cakes be named after them.
Momiji Manju(maple leaf shaped cakes) are small cakes with bean jam or other delicious fillings inside.
They are loved for their refined sweetness.
Among the traditional crafts of Miyajima, the wooden rice scoop, which is made in the shape of a Biwa lute-like instrument, is one of the most popular.
The method for making it was concevied by a Buddhist priest named Seishin during the Edo period.
Miyajima's wood carving and turning crafts, such as trays and tea utensils are also well-known for their elaborate techniques.
On the other hand, shikazaru, one of Miyajima's earthenware bell, and Miyajima Hariko(paper dolls) fascinate visitors with their cuteness.