This kind of deer is a holy animal in Japan and for that reason you will find them in and around many shrines and temples, they are walking where-ever they want and they are always begging for food and posing for photos. In some places you will be able to buy special cookies for them and these clever animals are waiting close to these food-stands for their meals. Sometimes it is quite hard to get rid of them but they always make a good photo !
We were able to watch this short religious ceremony inside of Itsukushima Shrine and our tourguide told us, that photography is no problem as long as we dont flash. The priest was beating a drum first and then he went to different places of the temple with this kind of white "broom" (maybe someone may tell me the right expression for it)
Private wishes and prayers for the gods are written into white papers that will be fixed along a string in the temple, everybody may do so and it was interesting for me to learn that in Japan it is quite usual to believe in more than one religion : Buddism and Shintuism for instance go togeather well.
Another way to post wishes is to buy small wooden boards, that have prayers or wishes already printed on them like in my last 2 photos.
We are very unique when it comes to religion.
While Christian population is growing, and more younger generations loosing interests in religion, majority of Japanese would answer that they are buddhists. But, they also believe in Shintoism, and participate in New Years, Coming of age, and other Shinto celemonies.
Oh, and exchange gifts on Christmas, and valentine's day, and.....
There is a correct way of praying at the Shinto Shrine.
1. Wash hands and rinse mouth with water in front of the building. (See photo.) Do not put the dirty water back in the bowl/sink!!!
2. Throw money (coin) in the box.
3. Shake a bell, if available.
4. Bow twice, clap your hands twice, pray with hands together, and bow once.
Note: Do NOT clap your hands at the temple.
We were lucky that just in the moment when we came to Itsukushima Shrine a traditional japanese wedding took place and while we missed the ceremony itself we could at least see the bride and the groom and the riksha that took them away afterwards.All of that looked so very special like in a movie because of the wonderful traditional costumes and the special place, it also was something special for the local people and everybody was taking photos. In my last pic : the riksha that took away the bride and groom for further ceremonies.
The nuns of Itsukushima Shrine are wearing special costumes and they dont like to have their photo taken,this is why you better take your photos with a tele-lens. In most cases their reaction is to turn around and walk away, as soon as they see a camera.
Mostly you will not see any of the nuns walking around the temple, but they are sitting in a kind of kiosk, where they are selling religious articles and there you might be able to take a photo like i did from a big distance and a 600mm lens.
For believers it is compulsory to clean their hands before they enter the shrine. For tourists this is not really necessary but in any case it is interesting to watch this ceremony that follows a certain method of cleaning first the mouth, then the hands and finally the instrument,that was used in order to take the water from the well, so it will be clean also for the next believer.
Donations that were given as a present to the temple are mostly shown at the entrance of the temples and they are always a good advertisment for the companies who had given these donations. For us tourists they mostly make a great opportunity to take an exotic picture, maybe of rice-sacks or maybe some wine, who knows,they are colorful and unique for us anyway.
This person in a special costume was standing not far from the place where the ships are landing in Miyajima, he did not move from there within the 2 hours that we had in this island and I have no idea what for he was standing there.
He did not search for any contact and also did not move a bit, when tourists stood next to him to take pics, so he certainly was no street-performer like we have them in many parts of the world.
maybe someone has an explanation for me and VT ! ?
In Miyajima, on the shrine, there is a place where you can purchase fortunes. If you buy one, you are supposed to read it, then tie it onto a nearby rung if you want it to come true. If your fortune is not so appealing, then you do not need to tie it. The fortunes are in Japanese only, so you can only know your fortune if you can read Japanese or have someone to translate for you.
You won't be on Miyajima long before you run into a few of the local four legged inhabitants. The deer of Miyajima are as famous as the deer at Nara and are revered as sacred animals. In the Japanese Shinto religion, deer are deeply respected as they are believed to be messengers of the gods. On Miyajima as in Nara the deer are allowed to wander freely all over the island.
Sadly the fate of the Miyajima deer is somewhat in jeopardy, as their condition has deteriorated significantly as the effects of the Miyajima authorities ban on humans feeding the deer human food becomes clear. Before visiting Miyajima, I had read several articles referring to the deteriorating condition of the deer and how they were starting to starve due to the lack of food on the island and the lack of food coming from visitors to the island which had proved in the past to be their most consistent food source. However due to the ban on feeding the animals on Miyajima, the deer are now feeling the effects of the food shortage. Petitions are being collected in protest against the worsening condition of the deer and local charity groups are coming each week to feed the deer and hopefully the future will hold something brighter for these beautiful animals.
You can buy special deer biscuits in the shops but be warned that if you do feed the deer, you will be plagued for the rest of your time on the island!!!
Miyajima is famous for its seafood. In some places of the town, you can find a person who sales fried oysters. Well, they don't are fried but I don't know the name in english. My husband said that they are excellent.
When taking tea at a tea ceremony, be sure to turn the cup around three times and admire it before tasting your tea.