This page may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link. This post is about the AMAZING Nara Deer Park!!
A visit to Nara Deer Park is a MUST if you visit Japan!
We recently completed a 3 week tour of Japan. I completely fell in love with this amazing country. There is beauty beyond compare, and such a fascinating array of things to eat and explore!
One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to Nara Deer Park. Nara is fairly close to Kyoto, so we were able to take a day trip to Nara from Kyoto, where we were staying.
Nara Park, which is one of the oldest parks in Japan, features some beautiful architecture including temples, pagodas, and shrines.
The Five Storied Pagoda, which you see behind me in the picture above, is actually the second highest pagoda in Japan. The current building is a restoration completed in 1426. 1426!! Mind boggling!
Adjacent to The Five Storied Pagoda is the Eastern Golden Hall of the Kofukuji Temple, as pictured below. This is but one part of the entire temple complex. We did not enter the Hall, as we were short on time, but we did enjoy people ringing the gong in front of the temple. (Can you see the red ribbon hanging down from it?)
The Deer Of Nara Park
This incredible park has some AMAZING architecture and historical buildings, however we were there to see the deer!
The deer are wild Sika deer, and they roam freely around the park. I had read that there are over 1,200 wild deer in the park. They had been considered divine and sacred in the past. However, now they are protected and designated as national treasures. 🙂
I was captivated as soon as I saw my first deer when we walked up to the park! Then looking around I noticed they were pretty much everywhere!
It quickly became apparent to me that they basically wanted senbei! Senbei are rice crackers. We bought some Shika Senbei (or deer crackers!) to feed them, and that's when the fun REALLY BEGAN!!!
Please watch the video! In it you will see how they bow their heads, and then expect a snack! You really need to watch your fingers because these deer can bite!
We also noticed that they make a very strange sound. If you watch the video below, you can hear the odd sound that they make.
The Deer are Wild Animals
I admit I got bit a few times while feeding the deer. Nothing serious, however, you will see in the picture of the sign that I took that they do warn tourists that the deer are wild animals. I have heard that they will chase after people and that can get quite scary!
And then you see this. Many of the deer will allow themselves to be petted, as you see here with this young child petting one of the deer. I watched this child pet this deer for quite some time and really found it beautiful to see.
Coronavirus And The Impact On The Deer
For years, the deer of had been dependent on food given them by tourists. As mentioned, many tourists buy Shika Senbei to feed the deer.
We travelled in the first half of March 2020, just when the coronavirus was starting to take hold and spread. At that time, tourism numbers were down already. However, after that tourism numbers dropped precipitously. This definitely had an effect on the deer.
This article, "Nara’s Famous Deer Wander Streets, Station In Search Of Food After Coronavirus Tourism Drop" published on March 17, 2020, from Japan-Forward.com, discusses this issue.
My hope is that MANY tourists will soon visit Nara Deer Park again safely.
Nara Deer Park is a MUST Visit When in Japan!
Many visitors to Japan highlight Nara Deer Park as one of the best things they did when in Japan.
Ultimately your level of comfort with interacting with the deer will be up to you. If you are uncomfortable interacting with them, you can try your best to stay at a distance and just enjoy watching the deer.
With children..again it will be up to your instincts and comfort level with the deer.
Feeding the deer was definitely an unforgettable experience! I personally would love to visit again and feed them some Shika Senbei! I might try the Shika Senbei myself next time! LOL
And in the end..why visit? To have an experience like this. Hope you enjoy this video. 🙂
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