Of Deer and Men

There are many things both old and new to be seen when wandering Nara, Japan. I particularly liked the gardens and temples. But oddest of all are the tame deer wandering everywhere. These are not like our deer, they are Cervus nippon, a long-haired species.

Isuien Garden © Harold Davis

Isuien Garden © Harold Davis

The icon-based signs warn tourists in Japanese and pictures that the deer are wild animals. They may butt, bite, and are unpredictable. This wildness is questionable—the deer are subsidized, and largely subsist on “deer cakes” purchased by visitors. I don’t doubt they are capable of taking a nip out of one, but this doesn’t inhibit anyone from trying to get a photo with their little one astride—or kissing—a deer.

Garden Wall, Nara, Japan © Harold Davis

Garden Wall, Nara, Japan © Harold Davis

I don’t get the sense that these deer are the sharpest animals in the animal toolkit. Maybe that is what millennia of partial domesticity does for you. They seem to amble around all over the place, for the most part amiably, pooping and trying to schnorr from visitors anytime they see anything they think might be edible. Trust me, deers, my camera is not food!

This entry was posted in Japan.

2 Trackbacks

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