japanese landscapes

Traveling to the gate by martin bennie


I decided one day, when i lived in south korea, that i wanted to travel through japan, first to go to Kyoto to see the famous bamboo road, take my iconic photo of it and tick off as many other famous places as i could from my dream photography locations list. Though my ultimate goal was to get to Miyajima island and to see the centuries-old Itsukushima Shrine and floating tori gate. This little island is opposite Hiroshima, which you can see in the background, where we all know what happened, back in the 2nd world war. I believe this was the gate used in Wolverine when you saw the atomic bomb dropped and he takes the Japanese officer down the man-hole to save his life.

The shrine and its tori gate are unique for being built over water, seemingly floating in the sea during high tide. The shrine complex consists of multiple buildings, including a prayer hall, a main hall and a noh theater stage, which are connected by boardwalks and supported by pillars above the sea.

Because the experience of Itsukushima Shrine involves the water over which it is built, it is good to be aware of the timings of the tides during one's visit. At high tide the shrine and its gate appear to float above the water, and this is certainly the time at which they are most picturesque. No one told me this and i never really researched it, just saw where it was and headed that way. I’m a spurious traveler and never make plans, i just go and sometimes this backfires on me. With a bit of planning, i would have seen the warnings on the site about the tide and about renovation work they were doing. I could have kicked myself for having traveled all that way to see it covered in scaffolding at low tide.

One thing about the island though, that doesn’t get much attention, is the very friendly deer that just hang out on the street corners and squares of the village.