Bow for a Cracker: Visit the Deer in Nara Park
Now that warmer weather is upon us (or melting us), let’s start planning our trips to Japan. Today I’m introducing you to “Shika Central”, or Nara, as it’s more commonly known.
Roughly 50 minutes away from both Kyoto and Osaka by train, Nara is an ideal day trip location for when you’re in Kansai. Plus there’s deer everywhere.
What’s not to love?
Nara Fun Facts
Even though Nara was considered the formal capitol of Japan from 710 to 794, it was not registered as a city until 1st of February, 1898.
Nara City was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in December 1998, due to its large number of historical temples, landmarks and monuments.
Nara Park is one of the oldest parks in Japan, and is home to many deer as well as sacred shrines (including Kasuga Shrine). Not only are wild deer free to roam around the grounds of the park, it is also home to Todai-ji, the largest wooden building in the world and home to a 50 ft Buddha Statue.
The deer in Nara Park are no ordinary animals; ancient folklore told the story of Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto, one of the four gods of the Kasuga Shrine, appearing on Mt Wakakusa riding a white deer. Ever since, the deer have been protected animals and killing one is prohibited by law. In 2010, a man was sentenced to six months in prison for killing a deer with a crossbow.
After WW2, the deer lost their sacred status, but became national treasures and remain protected and adored by many Japanese. Today, many visitors can purchase “deer-crackers” to feed the deer in the park.
Feeding The Deer
As previously mentioned, you can buy “deer-crackers” from vendors all over the Park. For 500 yen ($5), you can purchase a pack of these deer friendly snacks to feed to the deer. But beware, these deer have a sixth sense for the crackers. When you have crackers, they know. They’ll quickly surround you, and each deer will try to convince you that they’re the cutest one, worthy of that elusive cracker.
But first, take a bow
Not only do these deer use the typical “surround you until you cave method” to pressure you into giving them a cracker, they also have a few tricks up their antlers.
These deer have learned to bow. Yes, you heard me right. These deer have learnt how to melt the hearts of tourists and locals alike by showing off their finest manners, and bowing for a cracker.
Look how cute they are, bowing for a cracker. Those deer know how to win you over for a cracker, or two, or three, or six.
Ok. You win. Take all of my crackers, and my Yen, and my dignity.
So that’s all for now folks,
I’ve been Wedy Jones.
Keep it Real, Keep it Nippon.
Address: Nara City, Nara Prefecture (Open in Maps)
Opening Times: N/A
Entrance Fee: N/A
Nara Station (30 mins walk)