Part 2 of my short stint in Hiroshima covers my day-trip today to nearby Miyajima. A small island right off the coast near Hiroshima, Miyajima has relatively successfully retained its traditional environment while the majority of Japan has modernized at a freakish rate. Shinto shrines and traditional streets are in abundance, not to mention the insane number of wild deer who freely roam around.
Miyajima is known however for its striking torii gate, a sight that most people have probably encountered when seeing pictures of Japan’s top sightseeing spots. A UNESCO World Heritage area, the vermilion-colored gate is also referred to as the ‘floating torii” due to its location in the middle of the bay, surrounded by water.
Unfortunately, for those expecting to turn up any old time of the day to see the floating gate in all its glory are most likely to be slight disappointed. The gate only appears to be floating at high tide, which almost always occurs twice in a day – very early in the morning and a little after sunset.
As you can see above, most of the time the gate is either only a little surrounded by water or else completely out of water (at low tide). Still, most groups of tourists flock to Miyajima in the afternoon and bunch up all around the nearby shrine, snapping away at the gate. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just preferred to see the gate towards sunset when it was largely free of tourists and stood well against the sky.
So, I bided my time for about 2 hours, taking a stroll around the town’s shopping street. Oddly enough, Miyajima is known for making some of the world’s best rice ladles. I know, random. Each and every shop has tons of these stocked up, and there’s even one about 20 or so feet in length on display.
I also visited the shrine part of the Miyajima World Heritage area, Itsukushima Shrine. Located also in the same bay as the floating torii, the shrine is also a striking red color, and also seems to float at high tide.
Finally, around 5:15 PM, I headed back towards my previously-scouted vantage points for photographic opportunities. As the minutes ticked by, the largely cloudly sky opened up a bit and let in a myriad of twilight colors as the sun set. It really was a breathtaking sight, and I must have watched the gate against the backdrop of the sky and rising tide for an hour. Of course, I took many, many pictures as well, in an attempt to capture what was in front of me.
I took about 75 pictures of the gate, of which only a handful I would say were good. That’s what I enjoy about photography, though. You can take 100 pictures and only have a couple actually turn out well, but those couple are definitely worth it. Still, I don’t think the images do enough justice to the floating gate’s majesty. I had fun though experimenting from different angles, shutter speeds, apertures, etc.
Anyway, here are some of the ones I liked over others, but again, the real thing is truly fascinating.
Thanks as always for reading. Hope you’re enjoying these posts! Tomorrow, I leave Hiroshima for Nagasaki, my entry into Japan’s southernmost main island, Kyushu.