Being the animal lover that I am, Nara-koen was definitely one of the most entertaining parks that we visited in our Japan travels. It’s a park in the Nara Prefecture, which is home to some of the most noteworthy religious icons as well as hundreds of wild deer.
But not just any deer…the elusive Sika stag!
And not just “barely catch a glimpse” wild… they walk up to you!
It was a perfect mix of culture and creature!
It’s hard to pick the main attraction upon arrival. On the one hand you have the Daibutsu (Great Buddha) sitting ceremoniously in view upon entering the impressive Todai-ji temple.
While on the other hand, there are dozens of deer approaching you at any given moment to see if you’ve remembered any cracker snacks for them.
Both equally mystical, if you ask me.
In fact, legend has it that a mythological god Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the capital. Since then the deer have been viewed as heavenly animals which protect the city and country… says Wikipedia.
But aside from stories, I’ve grown up around deer (well, deer heads at least) and I know that they are extremely skittish. Folks (including my handsome and noble father) devote a lot of time and effort trying to see and track these animals, but here I was in Nara taking selfies with the little guys.
Aligning with the Japanese culture, the deer are also extremely polite and bow when you greet them. (Please excuse the oversize umbrella, can’t go anywhere in Japan without it)
The temples were remarkable as well…
but of course, I found the deer to be more entertaining.