Tori gate, Itsukushima Shinto shrine, Miyajima island, Hiroshima province, Japan (October 2008)
José Fuste Raga/© José Fuste Raga
One of the main reasons to visit Miyajima island, which can be reached by a short ferry ride, is the stunning Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site whose 16-meter-high (52-foot), scarlet-colored torii (traditional Japanese gate) stands dramatically in the middle of the surrounding blue sea. Dedicated to Shinto deities related to the sea, storms and the sun, the shrine dates back to the 6th century, and the various buildings on the island can be explored (without shoes). It’s also possible to follow various walking trails here, including a pleasant pathway that winds up Mount Misen—you may well meet some of the island’s deer along the way.