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Miyajima Island, Japan (October 2013)

Even though I loved all of the places I visited in Japan, Miyajima Island (also known as Itsukushima Island), was one of my favorite destinations due to its tranquillity and beautiful nature and views. It is located in the north of Hiroshima Bay and there are frequent ferry services from Miyajimaguchi to the island; the crossing only takes 10 mins and is free if you have a Japan Rail Pass. It's perfectly reasonable to visit for a day trip but there are a few traditional ryokan on the island so longer stays are also possible (but book in advance as they seem to be very popular). Miyajima is probably most famous for the Itsukushima shrine which is more commonly known as the "floating torii gate" as it is submerged in the sea. During low tide you can actually walk right up to the gate itself.  There is one main village on the island which is lined with independent shops selling souvenirs and food. A big attraction are the tame deer walking through the streets which like to…