Hovering above the water at high tide, the Otorii gate of Miyajima is one of the structures which helps give Miyajima the title of one of the three most beautiful places in Japan. The vermillion gate towers 16.8 meters (about 55 feet) in the air and indicates the edge of the holy precincts of Itsukushima Shrine. The Otorii has been built in the same style since 1547, and the current gate is the 8th one, built in 1875. Unlike many Shinto gates, there are four smaller pillars flanking the two main columns, which help it retain its balance. The gate is not anchored, but supports itself with its own weight. The roof is thatched with Japanese cypress.
It is possible to approach the gate by boat when the tide is high. There are kayak rentals on the island which allow visitors to cross under it. At low tide the Otorii is left standing on a mud flat, so visitors can walk from the shore to the gate and through it then. If you plan to do so, bring sturdy walking shoes which can get dirty.
No matter if you view it from up close or far away, it is easy to see why the Otorii has been named an Important Cultural Property and remains a symbol of Miyajima. For more information: http://www.miyajima.or.jp/english/spot/spot_ootorii.html