Unless you're visiting Not A Ballerina for the very first time, you are probably fully aware that I love Japan. I certainly got rather excited the other week about the possibility of the Japan Tourist Agency giving away 10,000 free flights to Japan to get tourism going again. Then I realised - wow, that is a totally drastic thing to do, and no doubt that's because tourism is really, really suffering there after the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear incident.
So I decided in the spirit of Blog4NZ, the campaign which encouraged tourists to return to New Zealand after their earthquake, I should continue showing you the multitude of reasons why I think everyone should visit Japan. I started with my big list of 25 things to do in Japan and now I'm going to get more specific - Miyajima Island, just off Hiroshima in southern Japan.
Visiting Miyajima is easily done as a day trip from Hiroshima as it's just a short ferry ride away (you can see a part of the city across the water in the photo below). It's a strangely relaxed place for Japan, and quite a tourist attraction too, but it doesn't feel crowded. Well, except for the deer. While I was eating an ice cream on Miyajima, a deer stole (and ate) the map of the island I was holding in the other hand (you can see where my priorities were, even though getting around for the rest of the day was a bit tricky).
These photos show the gate (torii) of the famous Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima. It's a (deserving) UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of many Shinto shrines which I visited while in Japan - often distinguished by their bright orange paint.
There are a bunch of other things to do while on Miyajima including some great hiking and a couple of museums. The deer are everywhere though so hold on to your map if you want to get back to the ferry terminal!
(Note for pedants: I just discovered that technically, the island is called Itsukushima and the town I visited is Miyajima; but everyone I came across referred to the island as Miyajima. Just in case you were wondering).