Tuesday, January 15, 2013

japan day 9 -- the deer of nara park

i didn't know that we'd encounter so much wildlife during our trip.  the deer of nara park were so interesting (and abundant) that, similar to the snow monkeys, they deserve their own post.  

while in the kansai area, we took a day trip to nara, a former capital of japan.  similar to kyoto, nara has a number of historic sites and temples to visit and is only about 50 minutes away from kyoto via an express train.  pete told me about the deer beforehand, but i was somewhat skeptical to the fact that they freely roam the park.  he was right, however; they're everywhere.

it seems that the local nara religious/spiritual culture is intertwined with the deer.  the deer are regarded as sacred and therefore protected (there's even staff to sweep up their poop from the walkways).  their likeness is carved into stone lanterns.  people feed them.  people try to pet them too.

they're docile and cute, and i can't help think of bambi.  but some of them can get pretty aggressive.  and people are warned (see sign below).  they bite.  they kick.  they try to butt you and knock you down... especially if you have one of those deer cookies in your pocket or even paper in your hand.

they're badass and they know it (left).  a buck (right) stole some paper from a closed restaurant to eat
stone carving of a deer (left) and a particularly menacing stare from a buck (right)
a doe sniffing for food 
a doe cleaning her fawn
this is what happens when you try to feed them.  another pic of the warning as a reminder.
see my leg in the background?  i'm walking away quickly from this one.

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