September 26, 2012

Miyajima, sacred island

I visited Miyajima(宮島), an island located in the northwest of Hiroshima Bay. This island is famous as having the Itsukushima Shrine(厳島神社) on the sea, a National Treasure of Japan, a UESCO World Heritage and the head Shrine of 500 Itsukushima Shrines all over Japan. 

It is said the island was a subject of nature worship from ancient times and according to the record, the Itsukushima Shrine was built in the time of Emperor Suiko around 6th century. Particularly in the 12th century(Heian period), Tairano Kiyomori (平清盛), who became a government's chief minister (太政大臣) for the first time as samurai, greatly esteemed the Shrine and contributed to the development.
Torii, gate of Itsukushima Shrine

 Itsukushima Shrine on the sea
Main Shrine
Five-story Pagoda
Corridor of Itsukushima Shrine
Wooden tablets for making wishes 
A dear walking around
Whenever I visit the Itsukushima Shrine, I feel very sacred. The Shrine is protected by the sea and mountains, and mystic atmosphere is created. Japanese see gods in nature unconsciously and we somehow feel and believe the presence of invisible gods there. This time, luckily to me, there were few customers and I could fully enjoyed the visit and prayed a lot. In Miyajima, dears are seen as messenger of gods and taken well care. It is also fun to find dears walking around the island.

For seeing more Miyajima, I stayed inside the island at a Japanese-style hotel named "Arimoto(有もと)" whose history is more than 400 years. Arimoto is located just behind the Itsukushima Shrine and we can access the shrine in few minutes. Arimoto is a long-established hotel, but the building has been renewed and renovated as a modern hotel.
Shrine-side Entrance of Arimoto 
A twin room
Japanese-style living room is also attached 
Outside hot springs 
In addition, Arimoto has hot spring baths both inside and outside! Hot spring is indispensable for Japan trip. Sooo comfortable and refreshing. Overseas friends say that they can't stand taking a bath naked, but you can be used to it once you try with courage. I promise you will never regret. If you come to Japan, you can't miss it! 

Usually, when Japanese stay at a Japanese-style hotel, ryokan, we take a rest with green tea and sweets after check-in, then go to hot spring. After cleaning body, we go to dinner putting yukata, summer casual kimono. After eating, we sometimes go outside or go again to hot spring. I also followed the manner as usual. After taking a bath, dinner was started:)
Private room for dinner
Appetizer and beer
Sashimi sampler using fresh local seafood
Soup with matsutake, pine mushroom 
Hot pot with local fish
Local sake "Misen" it was good! 
Boiled okoze, local expensive white fish
Grilled oysters 
Soup of winter melon 
Local beef for grilling 
Steamed rice with mushroom and miso soup
Dessert, mango pudding and almond jelly
Arimoto sticks to using local ingredients, namely "local production for local consumption." I ate raw conger for the first time. Okoze, local expensive white fish was very delicious. All the dishes were cooked in a delicate manner and the taste was sophisticated. Moreover, service was nice. Local sake named "Misen" was also tasty, not so sweet not so dry. It was a really nice dinner.

If you stay in Miyajima, Arimoto is recommendable. Impression might be depending on which room you choose (cause it seemd some rooms are very renovated and others are not so much.), but you can be fully satisfied with the good quality of dishes, service and hot springs. My rating is 4 out of 5. Arimoto(有もと)
Entrance of Daisho-in with "Nio", Buddhist gardians
Long steps  
A lot of Buddha statues 
One of the main hall of Daisho-in
Illuminated Tri gate of Itsukushima Shrine 
After the dinner, I went to Daisho-in(大聖院) Temple which held its candle festival at that time. Same as everywhere in Japan, Shinto(神道), Japanese native religion and Buddhism(仏教) are living well together even in the gods' island, Miyajima. My understanding is that Japanese supplement some deficit of Shinto, particularly regarding after death with some concept of Buddhism. Also, as Shinto is polytheistic religion and we are maybe used to worshiping different gods. Daisho-in lighted up only by candles were so beautiful. 

Itsukushima Shrine is also illuminated until 23pm. It was...just magnificent and beautiful. The figure at night is different from that at morning. If you have time, it would be better to stay in Miyajima!

No comments:

Post a Comment