Many have heard of random places throughout Japan that boast an uncommon amount of wildlife like foxes, rabbits, cats. In Nara, it’s deer. The deer have been a staple part of the cities life that without them the city wouldn’t be the same. What has caused such a high population? Legends, of course.
The legends go like this, when the city was built the god Takemikazuchi arrived on a white deer to protect the city. They are the steeds of the Gods and messing with them comes with consequences. Up until the good ol days of 1637 it was punishable by death to harm one of these deer, unfortunately after World War II they were no longer considered sacred and were stripped of the status, which I’m sure the deer themselves didn’t notice….but they are still national treasures. Talk about a demotion though.
The deer themselves are considered wild but act quite tame. They mind their business unless they want something and that something is usually always food. Shika-Senbei are available for purchase all throughout Nara park, these are essentially deer crackers. Pretty tasteless and have a cardboard consistency which I learned through trial and error the same way I learned to not put them in my back pocket or you might find a deer trying to get too friendly. But the deer go crazy and will chase you down for them, the more polite deer will kindly bow for the crackers, a lovely trick I’m sure was taught by the humans around them.
This city is a must do for any animal lover! The day I spent in Nara Park was completely magical and left me feeling like a modern Snow White. All in all if you find yourself in Japan take a weekend and go down to Nara, won’t regret it.