Miyajima, a sacred island in Japan. So sacred in fact that its famous Itsukushima Shinto Shrine (now a UNESCO site) was designed very cleverly 500 years ago. You see, the raised boards provided a way for pilgrims to visit the island without actually touching sacred land directly. The purity of the island was kept in check for hundreds of years. (Another feature of the design is that it look like the shrine is floating on water during high tide, which is pretty cool.)
Once at the shrine we gazed out over the water to the famous “floating” vermillion Torii (gate), only to find scaffolding and construction work obscuring the iconic structure. Disappointment.
But then something began happening in front of us – a traditional Japanese wedding, complete with a Bugaku Court Dance. The main dancer, dressed in heavy, colorful cloth with a wooden mask obscuring the face, was deliberate with every single movement, even the slightest. tai chi precision brought to dance. We later learned that this dance has been performed, with this same precision, in Japan for over 1,200 years. I can imagine.
I’ll trade you a missed photo opportunity of a torii for this – watching the dancer and the excitement on the face of the perfectly coiffed Japanese bride – any day. It was an experience we would keep with us and remember for much longer.
Open the panorama to full screen and take a spin around the outside of Itsukushima Shrine. Although the Bugaku dancer is gone, you can see the wedding party in the distance coming from their staged photo shoot (some things are universal). And if you look closely, you can see the torii out in the distance, all covered up. Maybe next time we’ll get to see it in all its vermillion glory.