Credits to Research Team Nurul Husna!
Prefecture this week: Nara Prefecture
According to Shinto tradition and folklore, deer are the sacred messengers of the gods and killing a deer in Nara was a crime punishable by death!
However, nowadays deer are no longer considered sacred, but in honour of tradition, they are considered as protected national treasures. You can easily see then roaming around in Nara Park in the Nara prefecture. Nara park, or sometimes referred to as Nara Deer Park, is easily remembered for having plenty of deer on its grounds.
There are over 1,200 deer in Nara Park and they are called ‘Shika’ which comes from the Japanese word for deer: ‘Shika’. The deer found in the park are tamer than wild deer, though they can be quite aggressive if tourists annoy them. These deer have gotten so used to the presence of tourists that they have come to see tourists as a source of food!
Deer crackers are available for tourists to buy and they cost less than 200 yen. Deer snacks aside, the deer in the park have a thing for paper too, and will even mob tourists just for paper. So you better be careful! One amusing and interesting fact about the deer is that if you bow to them, they bow in return. They are not trained to do so, so why they do that is up to anyone’s guess.
There are even several deer-inspired souvenirs sold in Nara since the deer are such an integral part of Nara’s tourism. Besides the usual figures, stuffed toys and accessories sold, there is also a chocolate snack called “Shika no Fun Fun Fun”.
The “fun” is actually pronounced as “foon” and it refers to poop. Based on the name of the snack, you guessed it – it is a circular chocolate snack shaped to look like deer droppings and it is surprisingly popular among tourists!