A Temple Under Reconstruction and My First Encounter With Deer

When visiting Hiroshima, a lot of the cities main attractions are not on the mainland, but instead, are located on several nearby islands that can be reached by different ferries. Okunoshima is one (click here if you want to see all the cute fluffy bunnies you could ever desire) and Itsukushima is another.

Itsukushima has numerous different points of interest, but it is most well known for being the home of Great Torii – a stunningly beautiful water shrine.

Getting to Itsukushima from Hiroshima is a breeze. From Hiroshima Station, jump aboard the JR Sanyo Line (covered by JR Pass) bound for Iwakuni and ride until you reach Miyajimaguchi Station (for approximately 25 minutes) where you disembark the train.

From Miyajimaguchi, exit the train station and walk straight ahead towards the ferry port. The area is well signed and you can’t miss it. There are two different companies offering ferries to and from Itsukushima – JR and Matsudai. If you have a JR Pass – this particular JR ferry is included and will not set you back a cent. If you do not have a JR Pass, the ferry will set you back 180¥ ($2.30) one way. Both companies have numerous vessels and ferries depart around every 15 minutes. The ferry journey is incredibly short and after only 10 minutes at sea you will have docked at Itsukushima.

When I visited Itsukushima, my friend Kaisha and I were on a bit of a time budget as on this particular day, we had to make it onto one of the last bullet trains to Tokyo. As we had limited time, we had planned to get to Itsukushima, head to the water shrine and then had back to Hiroshima so we could make our train.

Sounds pretty straight forward, no?

As it turned out, our trip took a little longer than anticipated due to an unexpected encounter with some unexpected wildlife.

Namely, an unexpected encounter with deer!

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Literally as soon as we walked outside of the ferry terminal, we spotted several deer!

I had heard that there were deer living around the temples at Nara, but had no idea that they had made Itsukushima their home too! These beautiful animals were seriously tame and obviously used to humans coming to visit their island home, but though they won’t try to attack you with their majestic antlers (FYI, I originally had this written as ‘deer horns’ and had to ask Google what the correct word was instead of horns… I am an idiot) they will definitely try to obtain anything that they think could be food.

This cheeky devil even tried to eat my top!

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I had spent the morning being surrounded by endless bunnies, and was now spending the arvo taking a stroll with a deer – such a day could only happen in Japan!

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The island was far more touristy than Okunoshima had been. There were shops, hotels, aquariums, parks and more hiking trails than you could poke a stick at. I can imagine that Itsukushima would be an ideal place for young families to go on a mini-break.

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I wasn’t overly interested in the shops (typical tourist fare for the most part) but the deer seemed to be quite keen on doing a little browsing! It was quite funny to watch them try to wander into shops only to have the shopkeepers run and shoo them away.

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“I am just looking for a gift for my friend Deerdre”

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Bonus picture: Look at this super cute baby deer – I just want to take it home with me!

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Once I had gotten my fill of gorgeous deer (at least for the moment) it was time to press onwards and head to the Great Torii Gate – better known as Itsukushima Shrine. This particular shrine is famous because at high tide it looks like it is floating on the surface of the ocean.

Of course, when I visited the temple it was undergoing maintenance (this always happens to me) but despite this, it was still bloody gorgeous.

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At low tide you can apparently walk right up to the temple, but aesthetically speaking, I get the feeling that it is much more pretty when it appears to be floating.

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After I was done admiring this lovely temple, it was time to catch the ferry back to the mainland and begin the train journey to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

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T H E   L O W D O W N
Getting to Hiroshima: Though Hiroshima airport is the closest airport to Hiroshima city, it is not a major international hub and it may make more sense to land into Tokyo or Shin-Osaka before making your way there via train
Getting to Itsukushima: From Hiroshima Station, catch the JR Sanyo Line bound for Iwakuni and ride until you reach Miyajimaguchi Station
Itsukushima Shrine: Entrance to the temple costs nothing and the ferry is included with a JR Pass
Threads: My white top and maxi skirt are by the amazing Tigerlily Swimwear
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M1 with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 lens
Remember: If you have any food, keep it well packed away or the deer may steal it!

Don’t forget to add me on Snapchat and Instagram – @wwellend – for more foolishness and travel adventures!

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Lastly, I am currently working on a ‘Get To Know Me/FAQ’ post, so if you have any questions about myself, travelling, midwifery, blogging or anything at all, let me know in the comments and I will do my best to answer them xx

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20-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

56 thoughts on “A Temple Under Reconstruction and My First Encounter With Deer

  1. You bring back memories to 1967 when I was stationed in Iwakuni as a Marine. There were Monkeys there back in the day, are they still there? Thanks for the trip. Always enjoy your travels, making the visit while saving my money.

    Semper Fi

  2. Hope they have population control in place. With no natural predators (or speeding cars) things can get out of hand. Disease or starvation, mainly. Gorgeous creatures, and so peaceful to have in your proximity, even if shy.

  3. Along with bunnies we have far too many deer in the cities on the Westcoast of Canada!
    Have you ever considered travelling to the northern climes of this side of the world?

    1. I have, but it is gonna be a while before I get there! I will have an Iranian stamp in my passport soon which will make travel in the US a real pain. I would love to visit Canada though!

    1. Awesome to hear! I love sharing my adventures with others – both with people who have visited the destination before and also with those to whom it is completely foreign.

  4. Japan is still on my list of main places I would like to visit and reading here makes me want to go even more. BTW hope you don’t mind me pointing out – baby deer is called a Fawn (just so you know in the future lol).
    Please can I ask regarding traveling alone, how do you cope with language? or are you one of these talented people that picks them up easily. We have always joined some form of organised travel when going to countries that may not speak out language, but prefer the freedom of organising things ourselves.

    1. Haha I will definitely make note of that!

      I am absolutely shocking at language – but it really doesn’t hinder me too much. I usually try to learn a few basic phrases before I land in any place, and I can usually muddle my way through anything.

  5. What a fun encounter with deer!! Those are very cute. We just moved and I’ve already seen six deer in our new neighbourhood. They aren’t as tame as the ones you met in Japan though 🙂

  6. Love the deer! We actually have plenty of deer in Texas, but I’ve never seen them wander the town like that! Probably because they are over populated. Thanks for sharing your wonderful travels!

      1. Yes, they are pretty much everywhere. However, they mostly stay in more wooded area. You don’t really see them walking down the street!

  7. Love the deer, especially the baby one, it’s just so cute. I read your post about bunny island too, now that’s a place I would just love to go to 🙂

  8. I have had two disappointments, with regard to tide-dependent sites: Mont St. Michel and Petroglyph Beach, in Wrangell, AK. Both were stunning, nonetheless. I love to encounter deer and elk.

      1. Yep, plastic bag and all. But it was still too cute and people came round to stroke it while it ate all my food lol.

  9. Hello! I loved this post…and especially the pics of the deer. I always think of deer as a good omen when I see them.

    I also travel solo and so I am looking forward to reading about your other adventures. Thanks for visiting my blog too…:)

  10. Soooo cute!!! I was just in Nara and loved it, and now I can’t wait to go here as well! While seeing sites and attractions under restoration is certainly frustrating, I also find it to be a bit reassuring, as I see it as a symbol of the local economy being strong enough to put money into preserving such treasures.

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