Nara is an ancient capital in Japan, about 50 kilometers south from Kyoto. The major attraction here is huge Todaiji Temple, one of the most important Buddhism temples in Japan but the biggest reason to visit here is meeting deer!
In Nara town, deer are everywhere on the main streets and they are actually “residents” of the town. No one owns them, they just appear in town and ask tourists for crackers, then go back to somewhere in the mountains to sleep.
Nara has been the center of Buddhism and Shinto beliefs and the deer has been believed to be the messengers of gods, and protected by local government and public organizations as national treasure. It is said that over 1,000 deer are living in the Nara Park and the surrounding area.
When you get to the Nara Park, the first thing to do is get “Shika Senbei” (deer crackers) at the stalls in the park, one packet costs 200 yen (about 2 dollars). Deer knows you are buying it for them and waiting beside you to receive it.
Once they find someone (deer) get the cracker, others come one after another to have the same. Be sure that they will not give up until you show them your empty hands!
No one knows where exactly they sleep, but at night, they disappear from town and go back their home somewhere in the mountains. Deer are usually peaceful animals, friendly to people, just aggressive when they ask for crackers!
People in Nara love deer so much and they created a cute Yuru-chara mascot, Shikamaro-kun. He welcomes you here and there in the Nara town and you will also find him on the packets of local gifts. When you visit Nara, don’t forget to bring back a Shikamaro-kun item. 🙂
Nara Park spreads outside of the city center, if you are interested in seeing the bigger area, rickshaw will help you a lot. You will have a chance to witness the quiet peaceful life of wild deer family.
Besides meeting deer, Nara is full of charms such as important temples and shrines, traditional houses and alleys which have the style of samurai period, cozy restaurants and cafes with local cuisine.
Why not spending a day in this charming town with deer?
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