Written by: Mess
I remember coming across a viral video of deer bowing in Japan before I moved here. I was skeptical and wondered if this really happened when people fed deer in Nara, but now I’ve finally had the chance to see it for myself!
I had a conversation with one of my clients about how I wanted to spend some peaceful time in nature. They suggested a visit to Nara, a popular tourist destination located about an hour from Osaka and Kyoto. In Nara, you can enjoy the vast outdoors, feed the wild deer, and take a look at some world-famous temples. It’s worth visiting in any season, but I heard spring and fall are the most beautiful times to go. It sounded like an exciting place to visit, so I made weekend plans with a friend, rented a car, and we hit the road!
Once we got there, we just followed the crowds and managed to get to Nara park. We started off at Kasuga-Taisha, a shrine which is famous for its stone and brass lanterns that are lit twice a year during the Lantern Festivals in February and August. The contrast of vermilion and white shrine buildings with lavender wisteria flowers was stunning! We kept wandering around the unspoiled vistas and eventually stopped at one of the traditional tea houses where we could enjoy soba noodles surrounded by nature.
After our lunch break we headed to Todai-ji, a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site and one of the most prestigious temples in Nara. Todai-ji’s Great Buddha Hall houses the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue at 15m high. The temple’s magnificent wooden gates and the muscled guardian figures were looking rather enormous compared to the people walking by, and the woodcarving details on the inside and outside poles were remarkable!
Feeding the free-roaming deer is another attraction at Nara park because the deer are used to tourists and don’t hesitate to approach humans. Nara deer are also known for their peculiar habit of bowing to visitors. But, be cautious! There were many signs warning visitors that these deer might bite, kick or headbutt people, so try not to provoke them. There are some special crackers that you can buy all around the park, so we got those and calmly fed them. They were so adorable, bowing to us before taking the crackers. I was astonished! I guess it’s an acquired behavior since they know they are likely to get food if they do so.
We lost track of time and suddenly it was already the evening. So, we decided to get some ice cream and enjoy the magnificent view of Mt. Wakakusa before leaving the park.
The whole experience was rejuvenating. I can’t wait to share it with my clients when the chance presents itself.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Thank you for stopping by, I’m Mess from Algeria and I’ve been living in Japan since October 2019. I love traveling around Japan and trying different delicious local cuisines. And, of course, taking beautiful pictures of the places I’ve been to! I can’t wait to see where my feet take me next!