January 24, 2013

0483 JAPAN (Chūgoku) - Itsukushima Shinto Shrine (UNESCO WHS)

From the misty beginnings of Japanese history, Miyajima Island (official known as Itsukushima Island), located in the northwest of Hiroshima Bay, in the Inland Sea of Japan, has been classified as one of the most scenic places in Japan. Out of respect for the Miyajima Gods, no one dared to live there, for more than a thousand years visitors, who were mainly fishermen, leaving the Island at the end of each day. Even today there are no hospitals or cemeteries on Miyajima Island.

In 593 AD there was founded a shrine dedicated to the three daughters of Susano-o no Mikoto, Shinto deity of seas and storms and brother of the great sun deity, Amaterasu (tutelary deity of the Imperial Household), but the land was regarded as so sacred, that it was built like a pier over the water, to avoid offending the Gods. The shrine has been destroyed many times, the present form dating from the mid-16th century, when was rebuilt following a design established in 1168. Near the main shrine is a stage dating from 1590, used for noh theater, which pay honor to the gods.

The gate from the picture, which symbolically marks the transition from the profane to the sacred, as any torii, is one of the Three Views of Japan (along with the sand bar Amanohashidate, and Matsushima Bay). The current gate, built of decay-resistant camphor wood in 1875, is about 16 metres high. The placement of an additional leg before and behind each main pillar identifies the torii as reflecting the style of Ryōbu Shintō (dual Shinto), a medieval school of esoteric Japanese Buddhism associated with the Shingon Sect. It only appears to be floating at high tide; when the tide is low, it is approachable by foot from the island.

The shrine complex was listed in 1996 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, under the name Itsukushima Shinto Shrine.

About the stamp
The stamp, which depicts Japanese Tit (Parus minor), was issued on July 22, 1997, and is part of a long series of definitive which illustrates birds.

Itsukushima Shrine - Wikipedia
Miyajima - Go Japan Go

sender: Andreea Dolete
sent from Hiroshima (Chūgoku / Japan), on 09.05.2012

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