Toyokuni Shrine (Senjokaku) / Goju-no-to
Hall of One Thousand Tatami Mats and Five-storied Pagoda
Both are located in front of the entrance to Itsukushima Shrine. They were built 500 years ago.
Senjokaku (Toyokuni Shrine)
Toyokuni Shrine is dedicated to the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (one of the three unifiers of Japan in the 16th century) and his loyal aid Kato Kiyomasa.
The reason for building this structure is clearly stated in a letter by Ankokuji Ekei, head monk of Ankokuji Temple. In 1587, Ekei asked Daiganji Temple, the temple in charge of construction and repair work in Miyajima including Itsukushima Shrine, to build a Buddhist library in which the chanting of Senbu-kyo sutras could be held every month.
The construction of the hall was discontinued after 11 years when Hideyoshi passed away, and it still remains unfinished today. It it had been completed, it would have shown us the great flamboyance of the Azuchi Momoyama era, as you can partly see in the gilded roof tiles of the hall, and the dynamic character of Hideoyoshi.
Originally, Amida Buddha and two subordinate Buddhist saints, Anan and Kasho-sonja, were enshrined in the Buddhist altar until the early Meiji era. Since that time, however, the altar has been used in Shinto rituals.
The building is called Senjokaku (Hall of One Thousand Tatami Mats), reflecting its standing as the largest structure on Miyajima Island.
the largest structure on Miyajima Island
The shrine was a popular landmark in Miyajima where many people came to relax and cool themselves and to buy popular souvenirs such as tooth picks, and a variety of legends and traditions have been created here.
The fact that this structure, unique among the buildings belonging to Itsukushima Shrine, is unpainted and that its exact date of founding is recorded makes it a valuable gauge of the passage of time. The traces of weathering on its pillars and floor boards can be used to determine the approximate age of any other wooden structure on Miyajima.
A piece of wood used as a measuring device in the reconstruction work of the O-Torii in 1873 hangs on a pillar under the floor of the south part of the shrine.
Countless votive picture tablets (ema) that had been hanging on the walls of Itsukushima Shrine buildings until the mid Meiji era decorate the walls inside the hall.
The shrine did not yet exist at the time of the Battle of Itsukushima in 1555 when the Mori clan defeated the Sue clan to unify the Chugoku region. The headquarters of the Sue clan was located on this hill, which was then called To-no-oka (Pagoda Hill). Starting in the Meiji era, the hill was developed through the establishment of stone steps, among other additions.
Admission fee : Adult ¥100 / Child (6 - 15) ¥50 / Under 6 Free
8 am – 4:30 pm
Five-storied Pagoda (Gojunoto)
The Five-storied Pagoda was originally constructed in 1407, and it was restored in 1533. The main deity enshrined here is the Buddha of Medicine, accompanied by the Buddhist saints Fugen and Monju.
The Buddhist images symbolizing the deity and the saints were removed in the early Meiji era. Now these are enshrined in the Daiganji Temple.
The pagoda as a whole was constructed in Japanese style as evidenced by the ornamental caps of the railing posts as well as in the placement of the rafters. However, Chinese influence can also be seen in such parts as the top of the wooden pillars supporting the eaves, as well as in the tails of the rafters.
Elaborate Giboshi decorations (decorations resembling leek flowers) are found on the railing posts of the first story, while Gyaku-ren and Kaika-ren decorations (resembling lotus flowers) are placed on the railing posts from the second story to the fifth.
This structure is said to be one of only five examples in Japan. It resists horizontal oscillation caused by earthquakes and typhoons. The pagoda is 27.6 meters high and its roof is covered with layers of Japanese cypress bark shingles.When major repair work was carried out in 1945, the structure was restored to its original style by coating it with red lacquer.
The interior of the pagoda is decorated with auspicious motifs such as the Kannon Bodhisattva, Eight Views of Shohshoh, a dragon, lotus flowers and the Shingon Hasso sutra painted on the ceiling, the Raigo Wall (the special name for the wall behind the Image of Buddha) and the rest of the interior wooden walls. However, it is not open to the public.
One of the unique structural features is the central pillar of the pagoda, which extends from the peak of the roof only to the second story -- instead of to the foundation. The names of donors have been carved on each of the sixteen pillars of the first story. Fourteen of these donors were women.