Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lush, Green Japan

Beautiful Japan
I know Japan is an island.  I understand that intellectually.  However, when I think of Japan, I often think of the modern cities, or even the ancient castles, and rarely remember that Japan also possesses some beautiful pastoral scenery.

My friend George says he loved the countryside and was particularly impressed by the beautifully manicured farms.

You don't see this shade of green (above) in the Southwestern United States.  In fact, in California right at the moment, with the 4-year drought, most hillsides are a sad brown.  I grew up in the desert, so when I see green like this it makes me happy!

We now arrive at the Itsukushima Shrine.  This Shinto shrine is on the island of Itsukushima which is near the city of Hatsukaichi, in the Hiroshima Prefecture of Japan.

The shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and several buildings on the site have been designated by the Japanese government as National Treasures.

The original shrine was built on this isolated spot in the 6th century.  The present shrine dates from the mid-16th century.  It was almost destroyed by a typhoon in 2004, and needed extensive repairs afterwards.

The shrine is dedicated to the three daughters of Susano-o no Mikoto, the Shinto god of seas and storms, and the brother of the sun goddess Amaterasu.  The island itself has been considered sacred through the centuries.

This Shinto shrine is known for its seemingly "floating" torii gate.  The gate is accessible at low tide, but at high tide it appears to float on the water.  In ancient times, pilgrims would steer their boats through the torii gate before approaching the shrine.

At night the beautiful torii is illuminated by powerful lights.

The floating Torii of Itsukushima-jinja
This is one of the iconic images of Japan.  It truly is lovely.

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