Nara’s deer take over one of city’s streets

By Casey Baseel

Although it’s often overshadowed by Kyoto, the city of Nara can also count itself among the pre-Tokyo capitals of Japan. As a matter of fact, Nara was to be the country’s first permanent capital, challenging the beliefs of the day that the death of an emperor contaminated the area and necessitated moving the base of power.

Nara no longer represents the same lofty political authority it once did, but the city is still the site of several important temples, as well as the impressive Nara Daibutsu, a bronze Buddha statue nearly 15 meters tall.

And yet, the first thing most people think of when they hear Nara is deer, since over 1,000 of the animals live inside Nara Park. But even with roughly 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of space to run around in, sometimes the deer like to stray outside the park’s boundaries, such as they do each July when they occupy this sidewalk and stretch of road.

Although they’re technically wild animals, Nara’s deer are remarkably calm. Held to be messengers of the gods under Shinto belief, the animals are neither caged nor penned, but instead allowed to roam free around the sprawling expanses of Nara Park. As the park is one of the largest tourist attractions in the city, travelers often stop to pose for pictures with them, as well as feed them special deer treats sold by vendors inside the park.

On July 22, though, Twitter user Mojizuri was startled to see a herd of deer occupying a sidewalk, as well as spilling out into the road itself.

“I’ve lived here for 10 years, and I’ve never seen them do this sort of thing before!” Mojizuri tweeted.

Like most of the world, we’re not used to seeing deer chilling in the middle of the street, and had we been in Mojizuri’s shoes, we’d probably have reacted in the same way. However, it looks like it’s possible that even in his decade as a Nara resident, he just never happened to walk down this exact street at this particular time of year, as evidenced by the 2013 YouTube video below taken in the same location as Mojizuri’s photos.

The uploader, who goes by the screen name Blue Bells 9999, says that this is a regular occurrence in late July, with the deer strolling out of the park to “enjoy the coolness of the street.” Given that the concrete sidewalk and asphalt road surface would ordinarily retain heat during the summertime, we’re guessing that the surrounding cityscape and topography creates either a cooling wind tunnel or an inviting patch of shade.

Whatever the reason, motorists seem to be used to the phenomena, as we don’t see a single car swerving or horn honking in the video. A sign cautions drivers about deer crossing, and most seem to have extended that courtesy to keeping an eye out for deer sitting as well.

Sources: Hachima Kiko, Livedoor

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Places you simply must visit: Nara edition -- In Japan, even cute animals obey the law -- Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

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The absolute most chill deer I have ever seen..

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I have to go see them! They are the cutest little critters!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Cool. I love how the drivers drive so slowly past the deer. I love how the deer feel secure enough to wander about in Yuman territory.

I love those little white bottoms with their waggly tails.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This will become a problem. The deer there don't have fear and we humans promote that. I was guilty also feeding them with amazement that they are so docile. Another time I watched a woman try unsuccessfully walk past and frighten off until they stole something out of her bag then they left her alone.

And the article says no cars swerved but the did cross lanes slowing or stopping traffic.

In fairy tail land this is perfect. In real life this is a problem.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )


"In fairy tail land this is perfect. In real life this is a problem."

Nara has had deer in the city for more than 1,000 years. People and deer have adapted to their unique life style. You talk as if this is some kind of new experiment.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

....It is with current technology, lifestyle, and population Suzuki.

Times have changed, from spread out village to asphalt jungle. Not exactly a deer friendly environment. Like my example said they are so brazen to push their way into a shoppers bag. Todays lifestyle!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Times have changed, from spread out village to asphalt jungle.

And the deer have been there the whole time, adapting well. Suzuki is correct in that Nara citizens have lived very peacefully with deer for the last 1000 years. I have been dozens of times to this particular road and have never seen a swerving car or heard a honk from a driver. The deer are aware that cars are passing and seem to know how close they can go.

As for technology, they are coming out with driverless cars now and several accident avoidance tech. Which will only help limit any possible accidents on the road.

The lady you mentioned getting swarmed or whatever probably had it coming to her. She probably mistakenly thought the deer were tame. As for the entire Nara population they are well aware of and respect the deer.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Oh deer...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Who would seriously let their 5 year old kid walk about wild animals with horns? it wouldn't be the fault of the deer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

However, if those deer start moving west in the summer so we start seeing them very close to the east entrance to Kintetsu Nara Station, that could cause problems....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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