As I have outlined in more detail in my local customs tip, you wont have to wait long before you encounter herds of freely wandering deer on Miyajima. However, caution is needed around these cute creatures as although not dangerous and almost domesticated, these deer are hungry and will eat ANYTHING. There are even warnings at the ferry port stating that JR Rail Passes that are eaten by the deer will not be replaced!!! The deer will stop at nothing and will even go as far as sticking their heads into your pockets to sniff out anything edible inside. You are encouraged not to feed the deer your own food but you can buy deer biscuits in shops. Its hard to know what to do...the deer are hungry but if you feed them you will be plagued by them for the rest of your walk!
While I was in Miyajima, a typhoon was approaching. Fortunately, I caught the last ferry out, but had I been better prepared, I could have avoided that mess and took my time exploring Miyajima. Most likely, this will not happen to you, but because they shut down the ferries during typhoons and bad weather, if you want to avoid being trapped on the island until the ferries are able to run again, it's best to pay attention to the weather forecast.
The restaurants and shops in Miyajima close at about 5:30pm. I couldn't see any restaurants nor shops are open when i was there on a wednesday. My advice is eat before you take the ferry there if you are going there after 5pm.
These sweet and innocent looking animals are best left alone. Because if you start feeding them, there's no way they are going to let you go but follow you around demanding more and more. So don't give them anything to start with and keep all your papers in your pockets or in your bag with the bag tightly closed. These may be sacred animals and messangers of gods but they sure like to nibble at paper...
The monkeys at the top of the mountain may look cute, but they can be extremely dangerous. What ever you do DON'T make eye contact. Monkeys perceive this as a threat and they will likely bite your face off. And do not have any food on your person. If you have it, they will take it. Then they will bite your face off. Lockers are provided at the ropeway station to store anything you don't want the monkeys to have.
And be wary of the deer that are everywhere on the island too. They are used to people, and especially people giving them food. I didn't have any so one deer tried me for tastiness instead. It was just a nip, but it was in a place that could have ruined my honeymoon!
The deer around the ferry terminal, Itsukushima jinja, the aquarium - basically everywhere on the island - are quite tame. That doesn't mean you can pet them so much as it means they will fearlessly try to steal anything you have that might be edible. Of course they'll take your food, but also paper money, maps, cigarettes, loose clothing...
I will never forget the protest of a little boy (who's probably a college student by now) the first time I visited the island: Ningen wa tabemono janai - Humans are not food!
As soon as you get off the ferry, you'll see deer everywhere.
Don't let their cute face trick you.
They are after your snack or any food. They'll chow your bag, my maple-shaped cake, nothing is safe.
If you feel bad for not feeding them, buy "Deer Food" and feed that to them.
Up the mountain in Miyajima there are many wild monkeys freely roaming around. For the most part they are harmless and keep to themselves. However, if you have food in your purse, you might find one of them tugging at your bag. So to avoid an embarrasing fight with a creature a quarter your size over your purse, don't carry fresh food, or keep an eye on your bag.
This is a funny sign but it has a point. Deer may look docile but they are wild and the ones with antlers can hurt you.
My question is what the hell is the girl doing to the deer on the sign.