Established in 1880, Nara Park is home to more than 1,200 wild sika deer that roam freely across a 7km square area. They are used to humans, so are approachable and can be petted, but they can still attack.
They've also learned how to cross busy roads using pedestrian crossings.
Nara Park (奈良公園, Nara Kōen) is a public park located in the city of Nara, at the foot of Mount Wakausa.
VIDEO: Strolling With Sika Deer in Nara Park
Nara Park in the heart of the city
The park is most famous for the wild sika deer that have made it their home. You can buy approved food to feed the deer with.
However, if you are using the picnic tables that are available don't be surprised if inquisitive and hungry deer boldly walk up to your table and grab whatever happens to be available!
They're accustomed to seeing humans, so feeding them by hand is perfectly possible.
You can also pet and stroke the very friendly ones but, as amusing signs warn you, these are still wild animals so use caution.
When should you visit?
Spring is an ideal time as it enables you to see the seasonal sakura (cherry blossom) as well – typically around late March/early April in Nara.
Autumn (September through October) is the rutting season which can be a fun spectacle to watch.
VIDEO: Rutting Sika Deer at Nara Park
About the Author
A writer and publisher from England, Rob has been exploring Japan’s islands since 2000. He specialises in travelling off the beaten track, whether on remote atolls or in the hidden streets of major cities. He’s the founder of TheRealJapan.com.
Nara Park page on the official Nara travel guide:
Tripadvisor's reviews will give you a good flavour for what to expect:
Nara Park on Tripadvisor
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) Guide to Nara Park Area:
Nara Park Attractions