On the second day in Kyoto, Victoria, Joachim and I decided to go on a day trip to Nara, a city located just 43 km. from Kyoto. Nara is famous for the many sika deer that roam the streets and the large Nara Park. In fact there are over 1,200 wild deer in the city and they are treated like kings!
Years ago, the deer became symbols of deities in Shinto, Japan’s ethnic religion, and were sacred to the citizens of Nara. Following the Second World War, the divinity of the deer was denounced, but to this date, they are still considered a national treasure and therefore protected.
Seeing the deer on the roads was not an uncommon sight, but the citizens are all used to them and all the cars slowed down when driving near the park. Killing a deer is illegal and even used to be punishable by death.
Today the deer are a symbol of Nara and hundreds of tourists come to see them and feed them every day – even us. We bought some deer crackers from a local seller and we soon became popular among the deer. The deer are extremely tame, but some of them became quite aggressive when the crackers were gone and they still wanted more. One of them even stole our city map and started eating that, haha!
We spent quite a few hours wandering about the beautiful Nara Park, where the cherry blossoms were at full bloom. It was a really nice and relaxing day and definitely a day trip worth doing to get out of the city for a while! Like in most of Japan, tourists are also everywhere in Nara, but the city is much more hassle-free than the larger cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto!
Now sit back and enjoy my photos from a day with the sacred deer of Nara!