Deers are gorgeous creatures, but back in Australia the only chance to see them are either at a zoo or on Google. But staying in Kyoto, just 30 minutes away for Nara, I could finally see not one, not two, but almost a thousand deer up close! I had to take the opportunity. Traditionally the deer at Nara Park were considered sacred due to their linkage with the Thunder god. Now they have lost their sacred status but are still a national treasure. The deer park leads into Todai-ji a large temple that houses the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha. Once arriving at the JR Nara station, the park is either a 30 minute walk or 10 minute bus ride from the station. I recommend taking the bus as it is only 230 yen one way. If you are travelling around Nara for the whole day take advantage of the 500 yen all day bus pass!
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Once you arrive at the park there’s a small shopping area where you can buy souvenirs and snacks. I grabbed some crushed ice and also managed to pick up some deer biscuits. The deer biscuits are special to Nara Park and are made for you to feed the deer. The biscuits are about 150 yen a packet, so I actually bought four packets! I was really excited to feed the deer. I know some people trick the deer pretending like they have food so they can get a picture with the deer. Personally I kind of think that’s a bit of a mean thing to do. Like it’s only 150 yen for one pack of biscuits, and you actually get to experience feeding the deer. Don’t trick a deer just for a photo!
Feeding the deer was actually kind of terrifying. Once you bring out the pack of biscuits at least four or five deer swamp you. They’re ‘learnt’ to bow to receive snacks, however some of the deer take this a bit far and rub against you really roughly. This one deer in particular kept bowing against my leg and pulling my shorts up and down! Some of the deer also get a bit aggressive with the food if you don’t feed them. Some deer bite my butt and thighs, and another deer was biting and pulling at my camera straps! So definitely be careful when feeding the deer!
I actually saw this tourist put a deer biscuit in his mouth. He was trying to get the deer to eat from his mouth while his friends took pictures. I’ve never seen such a stupid person before. The guy wasn’t bending down far enough, so the deer kept jumping up and almost kicking his jaw. Even if he did bend down far enough, there’s no guarantee that he wouldn’t be hurt. Please respect the deer, and know that they are wild animals!
To go into Todai-ji temple is about 400 yen. However the day that I visited it began to rain just as I got into the temple. I was really hungry, and don’t really like the idea of paying to go into temples, so skipped it. The deer park was definitely a lot of fun. I would love to go again with my family. That being said there are things to watch out for. Like I mentioned before the deer are wild animals and can get aggressive, there’s also a lot of deer poop around – so don’t wear nice shoes! Finally please respect the deer, don’t trick them just to get a photo!
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