Miyajima Shrine: A Disappearing World Heritage As Inspiration For Change

Miyajima is an island located just south of Hiroshima, that tourists reach by ferry. The spectacular red gate to the shrine is reflected in the sea when the tide is high, and this UNESCO World Heritage Site looks like it floats on the water. Now, locals are increasingly worried what will happen to the ancient shrine if climate change should raise sea levels.

Some people want to change the thinking and do something to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to more reasonable levels. One architect company in Hiroshima, for example, helps local inn keepers and other who have old, wooden buildings to reform and rebuild using natural materials. And at the shrine itself, thousands of lightbulbs have been replaced with fluorescent bulbs in the shrine's lanterns, which they proudly note is reducing CO2 emissions by no less than 34.3 tonnes per year.

Photo: Nikkei Net
Photo: Nove Works, another construction company making efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.

The famous shrine, officialy known as Itsukushima Shrine, is no stranger to the forces of nature. In 2004, a typhoon wrecked damage which is still being repaired, especially to the board walks. No matter, shrines in Japan are frequently rebuilt as way to preserve and maintain purity, using wood from forests that are especially designated and protected.

But if sea levels were to rise as predicted, the entire 900 year old structure would not survive.

The lanterns are not lit all night long, just for a while in the evening, as tourists enjoy a walk along the beach or a quiet supper in the restaurants nearby. Many weddings are also held here, and a trip to Hiroshima is not complete without a visit. "I want to spread CO2 reduction from Miyajima, getting people to understand what will happen if polar ice melts," said the head priest to the journalists at the light bulb changing event.

In fact the entire town still has many small wooden buildings, carefully kept by their owners in the traditional style. Sasaki-Jun Kensetsu Co. or the Yume Shokunin ("Dream workers") is one of the firms that help maintain and repair old wooden homes and ryokans on the island. Carefully assessing the materials that are suitable, using wood, clay, paper and different grasses (mainly used in Japan for the tatami floors), the firm is proud of its "eco-reform" and holds seminars to promote their line of work and its philosophy.

Hiroshima Yume Shokunin website (Japanese only)

Convincing people to change their lifestyle can sometimes be as simple as reminding them that what they already have is worth saving. Rather than replacing an old wooden house with a new concrete structure, this concept - to save the old wooden houses through eco-reform - sounds like a very good strategy.


Photos: Watanabe Inn (English website)

The Watanabe Inn is surrounded by rich nature where creeks murmur in the quiet atmosphere through the four seasons. In this atmosphere, we serve only three groups of guests per day.
Please enjoy Japanese good meals with fresh foods of Miyajima in Hiroshima.
We prepare a bath made of a Japanese cypress in each room which will completely relax you.
Warmth and "warm-heartedness" of the Japanese styles invite you here Miyajima.

Written by Martin Frid at greenz.jp

Tags: Architecture | Energy Efficiency | Japan | Lighting | Living With Less | Natural Disasters

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