Divine deer at one of the oldest parks in Japan.
Experience firsthand one of Japan’s most iconic tourist destinations: Nara Koen. Located next to the grounds of Japan’s Buddhist temple, Todaiji, this is where you’ll find the majority of Nara’s attractions, spread throughout the picturesque, tree-lined park.
The park is famed for its free-roaming deer population. These aren’t your run-of-the-mill Bambis though: these are sacred deer. For millennia, these creatures have been thought to be the messengers of the Shinto gods.
That certainly explains part of their appeal, but most tourists just want to feed the cute, bowing animals. Most of these deer are adorable and it’s well worth paying the 150 yen for shika-senbei or deer crackers. Be aware that they can get a little over-excited by food. So don’t freak out when you inevitably turn around to find you’ve become the Pied Piper of Nara.
You could easily spend all day exploring Nara Park and chilling with its doe-eyed inhabitants. However if you do out-deer yourself, purchase a ticket for the Nara National Museum for 520 yen. For those with even a passing interest in Buddhism or Japan’s earliest history, this is a treat. Permanent exhibitions focusing on Buddhist art and sculpture work as crash courses for foreign visitors. After you can put your newfound knowledge into practice at Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha and Kofukuji temples.