Itsukushima is a sacred island where it is forbidden to be born and die

Itsukushima is a sacred island where it is forbidden to be born and die

Categories: Asia | Culture | Nations

Japan is a country of advanced technologies. But this does not prevent her from carefully preserving traditions for centuries. We have already written about the island of Okinoshima, which has not been visited by a woman for centuries. Now we will tell you about another island — Itsukushima, where it has been forbidden to be born and die for a century and a half.

Itsukushima is a sacred island where it is forbidden to be born and die

One of the most famous sights of Japan is the red ceremonial torii gate standing in the water. They are located on the island of Miyajima, which is also sometimes called Itsukushima, in honor of the Shinto shrine located on it.

Itsukushima is a sacred island where it is forbidden to be born and die

This island is located in Hiroshima Prefecture in The Inland Sea of Japan. There are several villages with a total population of about 2000 people. The highest point of Miyajima is Mount Misen, whose height is 535 meters. Ferries and boats come here from the mainland. Since the "big land" is very close, the journey takes no more than 10-15 minutes.

Itsukushima is a sacred island where it is forbidden to be born and die

The name of Miyajima Island translates from Japanese as "sanctuary island". Itsukushima Temple is the main attraction of this piece of land. The first ritual structures appeared here in the 6th century. They were dedicated to the three daughters of the wind god Susanoo.

The temple complex was repeatedly destroyed by the tsunami and during the wars. What tourists now see on the island are the buildings of the 16th century, repeating those that were on the island in the 12th century. Once the land of the island was considered sacred and only sinless people and monks could step on it. Therefore, almost all the buildings of the sanctuary are on stilts and rise above land and water.

Itsukushima is a sacred island where it is forbidden to be born and die

Everything related to birth and death was also banned on the island. Since 1878, by decree of the emperor on Miyajima, it is forbidden to give birth to children and die. The Japanese take matters of faith seriously, so the taboo has never been violated.

Itsukushima is a sacred island where it is forbidden to be born and die

Today, the Itsukushima Shrine is a set of religious and household buildings located along the shore of the bay. Tourists can only get into some of them. Most of the premises are intended for monks, and the path is closed to the common man there.

But most visitors to the island are not interested in the prayer halls of the sanctuary, but in the ritual gates of the torii standing at its entrance. This is one of the most recognizable sights of the Land of the Rising Sun in the world. Torii are among the "Three Famous Landscapes of Japan" and have been depicted in engravings and drawings for centuries.

Itsukushima is a sacred island where it is forbidden to be born and die

The modern torii was built in 1875, but they completely repeat the gates erected in 1168. The material for them was camphor wood, resistant to moisture and the action of time. The height of the gate is 16 meters, that is, they are higher than a five-story building.

Itsukushima is a sacred island where it is forbidden to be born and die

Tourists can approach the gate to leave coins in their slots. An ancient belief says that it brings good luck. However, it is possible to get to the historical monument only at low tide, since the torii stand in the water of the bay.

Itsukushima is a sacred island where it is forbidden to be born and die

For tourists, torii is a beautiful and unusual architectural monument embodying Japan. But Shintoists put a deep sacred meaning into these gates. They believe that this arch of wood separates the world of people and spirits. The birds sitting on the gate take the souls of the dead with them.

Itsukushima is a sacred island where it is forbidden to be born and die

But torii is not the only interesting place in Itsukushima. On a hill in the center of the island stands the main temple, which is crowned by an elegant five-tiered pagoda. Also worth attention is the Daisho-in Temple, located at the foot of Mount Misen. This place is revered by both Shintoists and Buddhists. The fact is that it was here that the founder of the Buddhist sect Kobo Daishi first began to preach to the inhabitants of the island.

Itsukushima is a sacred island where it is forbidden to be born and die

One of the attractions of Daisho-in is considered a garden. There are 500 statues of Buddhas in it, to which the monks knitted cute hats.

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