Mount Mizen, Biting Flies, and Sacred Deer

During last summer’s research trip to Japan, we spent the night on Miyajima, a sacred island off the coast of Hiroshima. The island is home to Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines (specifically, Itsukushima, whose Grand Torii gate is one of Japan’s most iconic images) The deer wander the island unimpeded, many so tame (and used to handouts) that they approach or follow visitors, begging for food or a scratch behind the ears. Signs on the island warn visitors that the deer are wild, and ask people not to feed them, but it’s clear the deer don’t read the signs, and they hope the people don’t read them either.

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