Nara Park is home to over 1000 Sika deers that roam freely. They are considered a national treasure of Nara, as they are said to be messengers of God in the Shinto religion. While the many temples and shrines in Nara are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, visitors flock to Nara to see and feed Sika deers, whom have learned to bow to visitors for food (only feed deer crackers or shika-senbei, 200¥, about $2.50CAD). See Jeff feed our last ration to a deer.
The deers are relatively tame, but there are some rules to follow to prevent aggressive behavior. We did our best to follow the rules to prevent being headbutted or bitten, like not pretending we have food when we had none, and holding up our hands when we ran out of food.
However, there were a few things we learned that the rules don’t tell you. Firstly, don’t feed the deers that gather around the cracker vendors; I got swarmed and ended up giving all the crackers away (it was the fastest 200¥ I’ve ever spent, and one of the deer nipped my pants!). Secondly, when you buy a packet of cracker, hide it and ration it. Focus on single deer that aren’t in a group so it’s easier to feed (my successful feeding here).
Honestly, there is more to Nara than the deers, so definitely explore!