Nara Keon (or Nara Park) in central Nara, an hour away from Osaka or Kyoto, is the home of over a thousand wild deer. They are considered messengers of the Gods in the Shinto religion. And as such, they unharmed and they have remained here for ages – some have actually become tame and friendly with the tourists.
These “domesticated” wild deer have learned to co-exist with the hordes of tourists who descend in Nara everyday. In fact, they have mastered the art of “begging” for deer cookies – sold on the spot for 150yen per pack of 5 or 6 cookies.
It was actually fun watching the school children feed the deer – and then run for their life when a pack of deer suddenly surround them. There are warnings signs ALL around the park regarding how these wild deer may react. But even with these warnings, people still feed the deer.
These deer have become a major attraction in Nara. In fact, they have been made into the city’s symbol and have been designated as “natural” treasures of Nara. Hmmm … I guess people get attracted to these wild animals because, after seeing so many temples in Japan – temple-fatigue sets in. And these deer provide the needed respite until the next temple tour!
Which reminds me, we still have a temple to visit! More on that later.
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