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Deer Friends: Sweets & Souvenirs Inspired by Nara's Four-Legged Friends

Sacred messengers of the gods, the popular wild deer that roam the parks and forests are a Nara icon. Cute, and slightly demanding if you have food, there are around 1200 deer in Nara Park. The inspiration for everything from traditional shrine decorations, crafts and sweets, fun toys to stylish accessories, deer souvenirs are a popular way to remember Nara.

colourful, with a playful twist

The deer souvenirs at Nippon Ichi are colourful, with a playful twist. The deer-faced papier-mâché “Daruma” are popular; paint in one eye at the beginning of a project or challenge, then the other if your wish comes true.

There is a great range of baby gifts from socks to wash cloths embroidered with deer motifs and papier-mâché deer toys made by a local group in aid of the disabled. At the top of the range, there are beautiful Ittobori carved deer with magnificent antlers as well as contemporary ceramics.

fashionable twist on deer souvenirs

At traditional linen maker Yu Nakagawa, they put a fashionable twist on deer souvenirs, with tote bags and scarves made from local hemp fabric, embroidered with simple deer motifs. Small dishes by ceramics company Kutani Seal have an image of a deer and a pack of “shika senbei” crackers; a perfect memento of your trip.

collaborations with local crafts people and designers

In a palette of vintage white and pale wood, the stylish homewares store connected to the Kuruminoki cafe offers subtle deer souvenirs. Collaborations with local crafts people and designers like Mina Perhonen put a subtle, Scandinavian twist on the classic deer souvenir.

everything under one roof

Kite Mite Nara Shop has everything under one roof, from cute key rings featuring a deer character called Shikamaro-kun to chic temple lanterns. Look for the famous “Shika Sable” cookies, shaped like seated deer, by local baker Fukuei.

souvenir options to meet all tastes

You’ll find souvenir options to meet all tastes along the Nara Higashimuki Shopping Arcade and Sanjo-dori shopping areas, from cheap and cheerful deer antler headbands at Daiso discount store, to decorative writing paper at Issindo. Many cafes in the area such as Mellow Cafe also feature special sweets and parfaits, decorated with deer motifs.

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