AKA Miyajima Island, AKA Shrine Island, AKA Deer Island.
Since Itsukushima island is…. an island, you need to take a boat to get there. Although the islands official name is Itsukushima Island, It is typically referred to as Miyajima Island.
Miyajima Is Japanese for Shrine, Or Shrine Island. As you arrive, you are greeted by a huge floating Torii Gate.
It is obvious why the island is called Shrine island but it also goes by a third name; Deer Island. Why Deer Island you might wonder?
Because there are deer everywhere!
Very friendly deer.
The legend goes that the deer are messengers from the gods. So up until the mid 1600’s if you harmed one of the messengers from God, you would face the death penalty. The deer have clearly caught wind of this and are not the slightest bit afraid of people.
So much so that if you happen to have bought some Momiji Manju (a maple leaf shaped cake) then the deer will follow you around trying to steal your delicious Japanese snack. Deer can be real assholes.
Besides being snack thieves, the deer also do their business wherever they please. You had to really watch your step and pick a place to sit very carefully.
The island is also home to a picturesque town with ancient narrow paths and mountain streams flowing through the town.
The island itself was (is?) a volcano but is now considered dormant.
The town is home to about 2000 people, but sees about 4 million visitors a year; 4 million and 3 after we left.
Did I mention there are deer everywhere?
The island is considered a holy place to Buddhists. In the past, they would not allow women on the island and when local residents got old they would be moved off the island to die so that their death wouldn’t spoil the purity of the holy island. Of course, this is no longer the case, but B-ri flexes to prove his manhood and alive-ness so he won’t get kicked off.
Ever wanted an entrance to your home like a draw bridge at a castle? These people are living the dream!
The town has a nice sandy beach lined with lights and trees. Having just caught the tail end of a Typhoon, it wasn’t exactly beach weather during our visit however.
After reading the sign in Japanese, I determined that the town is home to the largest spanking paddle, IN THE WORLD! I would later learn this is actually the world’s largest rice scoop. I’m sure I’m not the first to make this mistake.
As the sun sets and the tide goes out you can walk out to the huge Torii gate.
Sian and B-ri head off to catch the last boat off the island. Next stop, Kyoto.