Nara Park: Frolic with Deer at the Cutest Park in Japan

Japan is a top contender to win the title of the international headquarters of all things cute. Hello Kitty accessories, mascots such as the smiling bear Kumamon, and hyperactive Pokemon characters are all designed to spread joy far and wide. How did Japan get so cute? One undeniable factor is that there are countless public spaces where unspeakably cute tame deer roam freely. At Nara Park, visitors can frolic with deer and bask in Japan’s natural cuteness.

Nara Park is located in the Japanese city of Nara in the shadow of Mount Wakakusa. The park is free and open to the general public. There is a large deer population in the region because a thunder god known in Japanese mythology as Takemikazuchi is said to have appeared atop Mount Wakakusa riding a white deer. Ever since, deer in Nara have been considered sacred.

If you’re interested in befriending a tame deer, vendors at Nara Park sell special crackers made of wheat and rice that you can feed to the deer. It is not uncommon for a sweet deer to walk up to a visitor and demurely bow their head. This is a sign that the deer would like a cracker.

Virtually all of the deer at Nara Park are as tame and mild-mannered as the sweet singing deer from your favorite Disney cartoon. The only time the deer get aggressive is if someone tempts them with food and does not deliver. Nara Park officials urge every visitor to not produce a deer cracker unless you intend to feed it to the closest deer.

The sacred deer of Nara are so beloved in Japan that there is actually a deer-themed train that runs from Kintetsu Nara to Kobe Sannomyia. The Nara Deer Train—or Narashika Train—features painted portraits of deer, deer-themed seats, and carpeting that looks like fresh green grass. Boarding the Nara Deer Train is akin to boarding an enchanted carriage that will whisk you away to a locale that you only thought existed in fairy tales.

In addition to over 1,200 deer, Nara Park is home to countless cherry and plum trees which produce delicate pink blossoms in the spring and vibrant yellow, orange, and red leaves in the fall. If befriending a gentle spotted deer while being showered with cherry blossoms sounds like your idea of the cutest, most magical experience imaginable, a trip to Nara Park is an absolute must.


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