Piratical Deer!

Posted By: Kimberly

Yay! First blogpost in a long while, because we have been staying in hotels instead of Internet Cafes, for once! In Osaka, that is. But more on that later.

After leaving Kyoto, we headed for Nara to see the Todaiji Temple and Deer Park there. I have to say, my primary target was initially the deer, reputed to be a 2,400 strong population wandering free. Sadly, most of what I saw was deer poo. We had to get almost all the way to the temple complex before we saw deer but the first impression was just... awwwwwwww!

Hand feeding allowed! Petting allowed! OMGOMGOMG!

I didn't really get to see all that many deer, though. Maybe a couple hundred at most? And they were clustered around the main gate of the temple... because that was the primary site of feedingness.
Hikone survives on sales of Hiko-nyan... Nara? 2/3 of the shopkeepers we saw were just selling deer biscuits for 150 yen a pop. The other 1/3 had other merchandise AND deer biscuits for the same price. Same packaging too. Obvious price controls in action!

But! For the price conscious, note that you can retrieve a stick of baked dough from the unmanned boxes. Honour system, guys! 100 yen per stick, make sure you put it in!

So anyway, back to the deer. They know their food well, indeed. We saw connoisseurs amongst them picking and choosing their food. Some turned down the 150 yen stuff, preferring the cheaper sticks. Others turned up their noses at the cheap food and went only for the rich stuff. One really special one we saw, specialised in hanging out around a dango stall eating you-know-what!

He had one from us! And licked the stick clean, too!

Not all is wonderful in deer-land though. There were signs warning people that the friendly critturs were only happy if you had food in hand. If you tried to approach them without it, they would grab anything else you put forward... like your hand.

Sometimes, it is even more than that. In the evening, I found myself left with some biscuit bits that had broken in my pocket. Luckily they were wrapped in paper (or so I thought), so I went off to feed some more of the ever-hungry deer.

The inevitable result.

Impatient for the crumbs I was distributing, this one went for the kill. Mindful of my fingers, I dropped the paper, and this is what happened after...

Rawr. I win. But he got a good chunk of paper in his gullet. He's there at the side of this picture too, just waiting to get more of the same!

So. If you ever drop by Nara, go in armed with many many many biscuits. And maybe flea powder because a lot of these deer have rather sadly patchy fur. Not bald patches, just uneven. Flea powder is mainly for the hordes of tourists that you will find jamming in the space with you. Heh.

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