Dec 15, 2019 Attraction Miyajima

Itsukushima Shrine’s Ever-Changing Scenery; The Three Faces of the Floating Torii Gate

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Itsukushima Shrine at Miyajima is one of the most recognizable sightseeing spots there is in Hiroshima. Even if you search all over Japan, this Torii gate that seemingly floats on the water is a rare sight. What’s more is that based on the tide, it looks completely different!

That being said, sometimes it can be difficult even for residents of Hiroshima to fully understand the tides. I’ve heard many tourists saying, “I have no idea where to look that up.” and “I wanted to see the shrine at low tide but I couldn’t get the timing right.”

So, this time I thought I’d ask around and find out more about ways to get accurate information on the tides. Keep reading to get my ultimate Itsukushima travel plan and learn how you can see everything this wonderful island has to offer!

Let’s Review: What Is Itsukushima Shrine?

Itsukushima Shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a whopping 1,400 years of history. The novel sight of the main building of the shrine jutting out over the ocean has long captured the hearts of those who lay eyes upon it.

While the shrine was originally constructed by order of Empress Suiko (554-628 CE), most of the main building was built in the Heian period (794-1185).

Of course, the structures have been renovated and restored multiple times since then, however care has been taken in maintaining the original look and feel of the Heian period construction which is plainly evident while walking through its halls.

The View at High and Low Tide Is Completely Different

With the review out of the way, let’s look at a few pictures showing just how different the Torii gate looks at high and low tide.

High Tide

First let’s take a look at the Torii gate at high tide. It looks as though it’s floating on the surface of the water! It’s for a chance to gaze at this sight in person that people from all over the world travel to Hiroshima and Itsukushima. On days where the weather is nice there are even tours that go out in small boats to get a closer look!

Low Tide

Let’s move on to some shots at low tide.

At high tide you’ll need a boat or canoe or some such to pass through the gate, but as you can see in the picture above, at low tide you’ll be able to stroll right through!

This is what the Torii gate looks like from below. It’s normally pretty difficult to take a look from this angle, so be sure to not waste this chance and don’t forget to take a photograph of yourself with the Torii gate in the background!

However, do not put any coins into the structure of the gate.

This used to be something that people did for good luck, but maintenance staff has asked people to stop this as it has begun to damage the structure of the gate. Put the money into the donation box at the temple instead♪

When the ocean pulls back to reveal the base of the Torii gate, it also reveals these stepping stones! Some marine creatures also sometimes show up, so take a moment to breathe in and enjoy the nature of Itsukushima.

The Key to Sightseeing at Itsukushima Shrine Lies in the Tides!

“Where can I look for information on the tides?” you ask? Fear not!
Take a look at this tide forecast to easily find out the times for high and low tide.
Let’s take a quick look at the forecast key and the tide table that appear on the forecast page.

Forecast Key

In the forecast key, not only does it show the schedule for the tides but it shows the ocean levels in real time; it even shows the times for sunrise and sunset. The website shows the anticipated times for the upcoming week, so whether you’re just about to head over or planning your trip for later in the week, you can plan ahead.

Tide Table

The tide table that appears further down the page gives you everything you need to know for the next month, from sun and moon times all the way down to exact water levels at high and low tides.

Whether you want to see the Torii gate at low tide or want to hop on a boat at high tide to pass underneath, with the tide forecast website you can plan ahead and tailor your Itsukushima trip to your exact desires!

Wow, That Was Easier Than I Thought!

Because you’re going all the way out to Itsukushima Shrine, you probably want to make the most of your trip. I’ve been living in Hiroshima for a long time and I recommend this plan for you to do just that!

  1. After getting off the ferry, quickly go and get a look at low tide
  2. Try some fresh cooked oysters and fried momiji, then make your way up Mount Misen and take in the wonderful scenery from the summit
  3. Head back down the mountain to see the Torii gate during high tide at sunset
  4. Enjoy a satisfying dinner at one of the many inns nearby
  5. Take an evening stroll near the illuminated Torii gate

What do you think? With the illumination of the Torii gate at night, there are actually three different ways to see it! The light reflecting off the ocean is so romantic!

Take a day and enjoy the ever-shifting scenery of the Itsukushima Shrine Torii gate.

Summary

Well? Does that make you want to see the three faces of Miyajima’s famous floating Torii gate? As long as you take a look at the tide forecast beforehand, the plan outlined above should serve to give you a perfect day on the island.