Itsukushima Shinto Shrine in Hiroshima Prefecture is one of the best tourist spots in Japan, famed for its red O-torii Gate that stands in the sea.
The island of Miyajima, home to the Itsukushima Shrine, has long been worshipped as the "Island of God," and its beauty is considered one of the "Three Scenic Views of Japan."
The shrine was originally built in the latter half of the 6th century, but the current existing shrine hall was established by the military leader Taira no Kiyomori in the 12th century.
It is built in a style of Heian Period palatial architecture known as Shinden-zukuri.
Further, this type of shrine cannot be seen anywhere else as it is unusually built above the sea, so at high tide the water comes almost up to the elevated floor, then when the tide recedes it reveals the pillars supporting the floor.
On Miyajima Island, thought to be the Island of God, agriculture was not allowed.
This shrine too was built over the sea, so as not to cause any damage to the island.
However, it is a very harsh environment for a wooden building to stand in the sea.
The shrine burnt down twice before the current building was constructed in the mid-13th century, but it is only through the strong belief of the people that this shrine has remained the same up to the 21st century.
Included in this World Heritage site area is Mt. Misen, also viewed as sacred, its primeval forest remaining untouched, and this balance of nature is an important characteristic of Itsukushima Shinto Shrine.
It was listed as a World Heritage site in 1996, due to the shrine being centred on nature worship and representing a unique Japanese aspect of religious expression.
From sunset to late night, the shrine buildings are lit up, and create an invitation to those who see it to enter a mystical world.