LIFE

In This Japanese Town, The Deer Roam Free And Befriend Visitors

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

If you’ve encountered a deer in your backyard or on a hike, you know they’re not really the most social of animals when it comes to humans.

Most wild animals aren’t too keen on hanging out with humans, in fact. They’d rather high-tail it (literally) through the brush than stick around and be your friend.

But then there’s Japan. Something about this place makes for extremely friendly populations of critters who are more than happy to come over and be your best pal, especially if you have food.

There are villages full of bunnies and foxes — and there’s also Nara, Japan, home to about 1,200 sika deer.

Sika deer are native to East Asia, and are spotted and slightly smaller than ones found in North America. Also? They’re adorable and waiting to meet you in Nara.

The deer roam freely through the city, nuzzling up to tourists and getting hand-fed. They’ve been known to hold up traffic when they decide to plop down en masse in the middle of the street, but it’s also what keeps the tourists coming to see these amazing creatures.

Check out some deertastic photos of Nara below, and you might find yourself wanting to go!

[H/T: Atlas Obscura]

Meet the sika deer that live in the city of Nara in Japan.

They’re a small deer native to East Asia and known for their spots. And their cuteness.

They enjoy hanging around in the city’s parks, much to the delight of tourists.

And not just the parks.

The deer, which number over a thousand, are allowed to roam the streets freely, and they take full advantage by hanging out on the sidewalks, under trees, and just about everywhere!

They’re very used to humans, so many tourists take advantage of this to get some great close-up photos.

So, why are they here?

The story goes that long ago, Takemikazuchi, the god of thunder, arrived on nearby Mount Mikasa riding a beautiful white deer.

Ever since, deer are considered to be messengers of the god, and are protected.

And that means life is pretty good for deer in Nara. Residents make money selling snacks so tourists can hand-feed them, and naturally, the deer are big fans of this.

And if they think you have food, you’ll likely see a lot of this face.

They’re certainly not the timid, skittish deer people in other areas of the world are used to.

In fact, they’re very direct.

And they really want to make sure you’re not forgetting about some food you might have stashed about your person.

If you love woodland creatures, then Nara might have to be on your travel bucket list.

This amazing city is like no place else, thanks to its adorable residents!

SHARE this strange slice of life with anyone you know who loves deer — lots of deer!