Itsukushima is the name of the island commonly known as Miyajima, just 20 minutes by ferry from Miyajimaguchi. Itsukushima is a lovely place to visit, with many temples and shrines, the much photographed Tori gate and a few walking routes through the virgin forest that covers the entire island.
As I arrive, the small town that neighbours the ferry terminal is just waking up, the tourist shops are still closed, and the restaurants are not open for breakfast. There are already plenty of people already here, many like me, are taking advantage of the low tide to capture some images of the Tori from the dry foreshore.
The islands small town is easily walkable and I found it a joy to explore, I managed to find a few quiet spots about town, these locations offer lovely views and vantages of not just the Tori gate, but also of the temples and shrines that are spread across the bay side town. Luckily for me the Sakura is close to peak bloom here, the much coveted flowers delivering superb backdrops to many of the scenes around town.
The views from the top of Itsukushima were great, stretching out over the inland sea for miles, today the clarity was not fantastic, yet I appreciated the vantages. Considering I didn’t climb the 500 metres up hill to enjoy the view I had no reason to complain, I opted to take the ropeway cable car to the highest terminal and walk the remaining distance up to the summit. I took my time to marvel at some of the temples near the summit, before I started the walk far easier walk downhill enjoying the pristine forest and occasional views through the undergrowth.
The Tori gate is visible from the summit and caught occasional views of it through the forest, from up here it seems to float on the water. And it’s meant to, as this Tori gate signifies the sanctity of the entire island, it’s been a sacred spot for over 500 years, hence the lack of development and old stand forests.
Reaching the town again in the early afternoon it is decidedly busier than it was when I headed up to the summit, I assume that most of the new visitors are day trippers from Hiroshima. It is easy enough to spot those on organised tours, they are following an umbrella held aloft in the air. All these people really bring the town to life, all the shops are open, the covered pedestrian street is full of people looking through the shops and enjoying the restaurants and takeaway stalls.
As the afternoon draws to a close the crowds begin to thin, with fewer people than I expected opting to stay for the sunset. The glorious sunset, the pink, orange and yellow hues of the setting sun and the perfect photographic focus in the foreground seemingly floating on the tide, creating an excellent scene.
The sun is gone and the shops are closed, the light of the town are on soon there will be no one but those at home remaining here. It’s not late but it’s dark and all there is to see and do is closed, I aim for the second to last ferry of the island. The Tori gate slowly getting smaller as the boat nears Miyajimaguchi, is still visible thanks to some well placed spotlights.