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Miyajima Island

Just off the coast from Hiroshima, Miyajima Island - otherwise known as Itsukushima - is generally seen as sacred. Trees cannot be cut here, and some animals including monkeys and deer can roam freely. To further preserve the apparent purity of the island, children cannot be born here. Pregnant women have to travel to the mainland when their due date nears, and can only return after the birth.

There are a number of shrines on the island, but none are more famous than the magnificent 'floating' Itsukushima Shrine, which is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage site. Its well-known entrance gate (torii) is one of Japan's most iconic sights. A temple of some kind has existed on the site since the 7th century AD. It was then constructed on a pier over the water, to try and maintain the temple's purity. This gave the structure its floating appearance, and made it famous. Though parts of the large complex have been rebuilt over the years, today the temple still resembles its appearance from its enlargement in 1168.

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