The Torii gate is said to be the gate between the spirit world and the human world. The four pillar style gate was originally built in 1168 and was located 200 meters off shore. During high tide, the gate appears to be floating on the water. During low tide, you can walk to the foot of the great Torii.
The great Torii is not buried but stands on its own weight. It stands on six pillars both the main pillars and small pillars make it secure. The box in the upper part of the Torii contains 7 tons of stones. Custom made wedges are driven into the intersections of where the roof meets the pillars absorbing movements and helping the balance of the structure.
The present great Torii was built in 1875 and is the eighth Torii in Miyajima history. The vermillion color of Itsukushima Shrine and the great Torii is considered to keep evil spirits away.
The plate on the great Torii was painted by Prince Arisugawa Taruhito from the Meiji era. He was a commander during the Bushin war and led the central government army against the forces of Saigō Takamori in the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. Saigō Takamori is known as the “Last Samurai” and is considered the most influential Samurai in Japanese history.