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Nara's Feral Deer

奈良市, 日本

Nara, Japan

January 26th 2023


Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

Over 1200 wild sika deer freely roam around the parks encircling Mt Kasuga primeval forest in Nara, an hour's train from Osaka. They are so beloved that they have been classified as a national treasure by the Ministry of Culture, and for 200 yen a pop, swarms of tourists can buy sets of approved rice cakes to feed deer all while proding, screaming, and taking selfies. They are now even know as the 'bowing deer', because they have been trained over time to bow for food.


Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of sika deer walking over crosswalk in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of sika deer biting chains in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of baby sika deer in Nara park, Japan

Outside of the main park, the primeval forest hides many shrines and temples, and the occassional introverted deer can be found roaming calmly.


Landscape photo of moss-covered shrines in Nara, Japan

Street photo of lanterns in shinto shrine in Nara, Japan

Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

On many of the deer patches of fur have been bitten off, and some deer can be seen chewing chains. I'm not sure why this is, potentially a stress response to the crowding caused by overpopulation.


Although I'm usually hesitant to take photos of people so openly, I somehow didn't feel bad in Nara. We all knew what they were doing wasn't the most responsible thing in the world, feeding and touching wild animals, so my photos are a just response, a punishment for their immature actions. I can only hope that they felt self-conscious and began to question their actions.


Street photography of sika deer selfies in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

Street photography of sika deer in Nara park, Japan

This woman smacked two deer in the face like a bad parent does to her impatient child while offering them food. Shamed.


Street photo of sika deer danger sign in Nara park, Japan


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