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miyajima deer

Chugoku Hiroshima Japan

The Sacred, Starving Deer of Miyajima

September 7, 2015

“…so please do not feed the deer,” the announcement played over a loudspeaker as soon as I walked out of the terminal. Wait – what!? There’s deer here? Thanks to the Interwebs, many of Japan’s “animal islands” have become pretty well known in recent years, but I’d never heard of Miyajima being described as one.

The small island (officially Itsukushima, but popularly known as Miyajima) in the Western part of the Seto Inland Sea is best known for the red, ‘floating’ torii gate that marks the entrance to Itsukushima Shrine. Revered for centuries as a holy place, the shrine is considered one of the most beautiful sights in all of Japan, and, just under an hour away from the city center, a must-see for any visit to Hiroshima.

What I didn’t know was that it is also home to a population of wild-but-tame Sika deer. And that they are slowly starving to death.

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