Miyajima Island on Wikipedia: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itsukushi
On December 31st, we spent the afternoon and early evening on Miyajima (“Shrine Island,” a nickname for Itsukushima, its name) because they have a fire-prevention ceremony in which people set giant torches on fire and parade them up and down the seafront.
Deer wander freely, because I think they’re technically considered sacred. There are signs everywhere telling you not to feed them, but they’re thugs and will mug you for food, paper, dangly bits off your coat, etc. we were thoroughly warned about this before coming and were very careful not to allow the deer near anything that might look slightly tempting.
Here are two birds. I have no idea what the one in front is, but I think the other one is a Eurasian sparrow. It’s certainly a sparrow of some sort.
The town of Miyajima basically consists of hotels, ryokans, some residences and social services (schools, etc) for the residents, three or so streets of souvenirs and cafes, and several temples. But what it’s most known for is that iconic shot you’ve all seen of a large torii gate standing in water, the symbolic entrance to Japan. And here it is. You can go out to it at low tide, but low tide was at 11:40 or so that day, and we got there too late to go out there.
Remember how I said we took precautions to make sure not to tempt the marauding deer? This guy didn’t.
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Here’s the Itsukushima Shrine, which is built out over the water so at high tide it looks like it’s floating. If you go to the Wikipedia link for the island above, there will be links to the page about the shrine so you can read about it.