How to feed the Deer in Nara Japan

Published on June 22, 2014 by

How to feed the 1200 wild deer that live in Nara Japan. In the Shinto religion the deer are believed to have descended from god, and so the deer here are actually treated better than people. If you want to feed the deer you have to buy deer crackers. They call them senbei, they come in packages for 150 yen each. A pretty cheap deal for an entertaining time feeding some deer.

I suggest bringing a senbei bag or something to put your biscuits in because the deer are pretty smart and if they see you have a handful they’ll follow you around and you’ll never get away. If you want to be creative in who you feed take your senbei out of your bag, pick the deer you would like to feed and they’ll come right up to you and eat the biscuit right out of your hand. This is truly amazing.

Never have I seen a place where you could feed deer from your hand. Usually deer run away, but these don’t. The deer will follow you because they think you’ll feed them more, they think there’s more senbei in the bag, which they’re probably right, and then they’ll start to nibble on you. So the question is do you give them more senbei or not? Probably not, because then I don’t know that you’ll get out of here alive.

These deer are so smart they’ve learned to congregate next to the deer cracker stands, right here on the right is a deer cracker stand, someone’s getting ready to buy the crackers, the deers know that feeding time is on. Just follow the person that left the stand and it’s time for a tasty dinner. If you do find yourself in this situation, just keep walking, the deers will follow you and it won’t get too crazy. However, if you find yourself cornered by the deers, well, then it might get a little crazier, then you need to be fast, feed, feed, feed, otherwise the deer are going to be biting you, your clothes, and everything around you. Now once you’ve fed all the deers you can put your hands up and show them, no more cookies.

For the best feeding action try to get away from the crowds. The other good thing about getting away from the crowds is that the deers in the more remote areas of the park are typically less aggressive. I found the deer feeding in these areas to be more enjoyable because the deers would eat nicely out of my hand instead of trying to eat my entire hand.

The deer in the park are wild animals so there are some cautions to be aware of. Sometimes they can attack people, they can bite, they can kick, they can butt, and hey can knock down. You’ll see most of them they have their horns cut off, I think that’s so they don’t butt you and keep you safe so you have a good time while you’re feeding biscuits to the deer.

Besides just the living deer, deers are used in symbolism everywhere here. Here is the entrance to a temple, there’s a deer fountain that you can wash your hands with before you enter. Deer are used as advertising here at the optometrist and here at the dentist. Even the vending machines feature little cartoon deers. The manhole covers on the streets also decorated with deer. They even sell little deer stuffed animals holding their crackers.

The best time of the year to visit Nara is in late March or early April ’cause you can get a double feature, the deer and the cherry blossoms. I think the cherry blossoms take a little bit of the crowd away from the deer too ’cause they’re all here taking pictures in front of this tree. So if your travels take you to Nara, Japan, check out Nara Park for a unforgettable experience feeding some deer.


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