When planning a trip to Japan, more often than not, the country’s famous Nara Park crops up as a must-see attraction. The park in Nara city is well known for its incredible population of docile deer that roam the streets greeting tourists with their calm demeanour. Some deer even bow to visitors for crackers.
But now, due to an increased amount of tourists reportedly getting nibbled on by deer, park authorities have had to take action. With more than 1000 deer roaming the street in search of crackers and other treats, many tourists who are not used to animals find themselves surrounded by deer who can’t help themselves. Tourists also become distracted while attempting to take photos and selfies with the deer.
Authorities in the park have erected signposts in Japanese, Chinese and English showing tourists exactly how the animals should be fed so that they don’t become irate. The signs have been put up in stalls where the crackers are sold. Tourists are instructed not to tease the animals and that they should give the crackers to the deer straightaway; children should be accompanied by adults. The new signs also urge tourists to use “deer sign language” and gestures when interacting with the deer by showing them both hands to indicate that there’s no food left.
It’s reported that 180 bite injuries were caused by deer during 2017 which is up from 118 injuries the previous year. Nara Park covers 660 hectares and encompasses the Todaiji Temple and Kasugataisha Shrine. It receives millions of visitors every year. Deer in Japan are in Shinto (the indigenous faith of the Japanese people) considered to be a messenger of the gods and have become a symbol in the city. The deer in the park are protected as national treasures.