Deers are thought of as sacred in the native Shinto religion because they are considered messengers of gods.
Deers in Miyajima island have lived on island for 6,000 years. After the world war II when Japan was under the GHQ's occupation, deers were hunt by the occupation army and their population fell drastically down so that deers were transferred from Kasuga Taisha (春日大社) in Nara. Since then they have been half-domesticated and fed by natives and tourists, the population recovered.
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Well, now it seems over-populated and they are notorious for eating maps!!!