The only known photograph of a “torii” gate by the dock of the Hiroshima Domain storehouse in the Nakanoshima district of Osaka (Provided by Hiroshima City Culture Foundation)
OSAKA–A museum has confirmed the only photographic record of a “torii” gate here that was a smaller copy of Itsukushimajinja shrine’s famed crimson gate on the shore of the Miyajima district in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture.
The photograph, measuring 5.5 by 9 centimeters, shows the gate in a shallow pool in the Nakanoshima holm in the central part of Osaka city almost 150 years ago.
A Hiroshima resident donated the print to Hiroshima Castle in spring 2015. The Hiroshima City Culture Foundation, the castle’s administrator, asked the Osaka Museum of History to have experts take a look at it in summer 2016.
The experts said the photo was taken near the end of the Edo Period (1603-1867) or beginning of the Meiji Era (1868-1912). It shows a branch of Itsukushimajinja shrine, now a World Heritage site, that was set up on the premises of the storehouse of the Hiroshima Domain.
The gate has appeared in pictorial maps and drawings, but no pictures of it were known until now.
During the Edo Period, Osaka was a center of trade and was nicknamed the “kitchen of the nation.”
Many domains from afar set up storehouses on the shores of Osaka for rice and specialty produce shipped from their home areas.
The Hiroshima Domain storehouse by the Dojimagawa river was one of the largest. It had an enclosed pool of water connected to the river, where boats could dock and unload goods after traveling upstream.
The photo shows the torii gate standing in the pool.
According to museum curator Shigeru Yagi, domain officers stationed in Osaka traditionally enshrined gods from their hometowns on the premises of the storehouses.
“It means (officers of the Hiroshima Domain) wanted to pray before the god of Itsukushimajinja shrine even in Osaka, not just worshipping the god of the sea to pray for safe voyages,” said Yagi, referring to the photograph. “It is a significant finding.”
The picture shows a framed sign on the gate that reads “Itsukushima-daimyojin,” the same words that used to appear on the sign of Itsukushimajinja shrine in Hiroshima during the Edo Period.
The museum has created a miniature model of the Hiroshima Domain storehouse based on drawings and documents. It has been on display as part of a local modern history section.
The photograph revealed not only the fine details of the gate but also a roofed corridor with hanging lanterns leading up to the gate along the bank of the dock pool. The picture also shows what kind of trees were planted in the background.A copy of the photograph is now on display with the model storehouse.