about them approaching her. Again, they were gentle, but I’m sure it’s overwhelming for some kids to be encircled by so many large animals. This one set up shop right outside the entrance to a temple. The difference is that those deer ran away when humans came remotely close to them, and these deer walk towards you when they see you. The deer were absolutely fearless towards human. Cute scene, right? Even if you didn’t have food, many of the deer would come right up to you, allowing you to pet them. Putting a ditch between you and the deer you’re feeding is a good call. Until the late 1600s, killing a deer in Nara was a capital offense, but it’s unclear whether the deer remain sacred now. Since numerous vendors throughout Nara sell “deer crackers” that people can feed to deer for 150 yen per packet, the deer are assured a constant supply of food, and have no reason to go anywhere. It’s an open, public park, not a park in the sense that it’s a petting zoo for deer. Share any other questions or thoughts you have in the comments! Overall, Nara is an awesome place, and I highly recommend visiting. This is their home, and humans are just passing through. Obviously, deer unite people across all walks of life…or something like that. The deer are everywhere, from lingering at the entrance to restaurants to temples to roads. I’ve read conflicting reports–it seems they are “only” national treasures now. Actually, the ‘Nara Deer Park’ as it’s known is home to over 1,000 deer. He has survived countless visits to Nara Park. In 1177, Kujo Kanezane, a nobleman visiting the area with his family, encountered a herd of deer with his traveling party. As for the deer as a tourist draw, I have to admit that it’s pretty awesome to head to a shrine or park and be surrounded by deer. Here’s a little girl feeding a fawn. killing a deer in the park with a crossbow. My family visited Nara in May and really enjoyed the deer. Nara Park – What's there to discover about a place. If it’s your first visit to Japan and you have limited time, I probably would skip Nara, but it’s a good option that’s quite a bit different from the major cities and worth visiting if you have 10+ days in Japan. Japan's second-tallest five-storied pagoda, which was originally built over a thousand years ago, is also here -- but there's little question that the deer are the main draw. Nara Deer are an interesting cultural phenomenon from Japanese antiquity: they are a subspecies of the common Sika Deer in Asia, but in the ancient capitol of Nara, they were considered messengers of the gods (Shinto religion), and therefore sacred. Or, so it seems. Did you feed these devious deer? Technically, these deer are “wild”, but they are only wild in the sense that there are no cages or fences keeping them in place. We’ve stayed in the city a few times, and regularly do day trips from Kyoto via the JR Nara Line (read our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto, Japan for more on day trips and many other suggestions). As a result of their sacred and/or national treasure status, and because the deer are probably the single greatest reason tourists flock to Nara, there are tributes to the deer everywhere. So, if you’ve ever thought to yourself, “gee, I really want to go to a park where I can interact with and feed a bunch of deer” then it’s time to book your tickets to Nara, Japan! It was actually the first permanent capitol of Japan, and has a variety of shrines, temples, and ruins that are collectively a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I watched her feed them for a bit…. It was hilarious watching them head butt people who were just minding their own business! In his journal. If you’re planning a visit to Japan, please check out my other posts about Japan for ideas of things to do (or not do) while there. 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