The Strange Behaviour of Deer in Nara, near Todai-ji

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Deer in Nara. They’re everywhere! Freely roaming the streets, Nara-koen 「Nara Park, 奈良公園」 and the entrance to Tōdai-ji 「Great Eastern Temple, 東大寺」 with their wide eyes and curiously sniffing snouts.

Deer in water, outside Todai-ji Temple in Nara, Japan

Canon DIGITAL IXUS 65 (5.8mm, f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO0)
Deer, what are you doing in there?

These wild deer, called shika 「鹿」 are a tourist attraction in their own right. Vendors outside Todai-ji sell shika-senbei 「deer rice-crackers, 鹿煎餅」 for about ¥100 to feed to the deer. But beware… if you walk around with the crackers in your pocket, you will attract (and be surrounded by) lots of deer! They don’t bite, but they can become very pushy.

After emptying my pockets during a feeding session, I started strolling back toward Todai-ji through Nara Park. The park has some small streams and ponds. In one pond this deer was simply standing around in the water… very odd behaviour indeed. It was a cool spring day, so I couldn’t think why this deer was immersed in the pond…

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