Nara’s Sacred Deer 01
Nara’s Sacred Deer 02

Nara’s Sacred Deer

Nara’s Sacred Deer

One of the most memorable experiences when you visit Nara, is encountering the area's wild deer. There are around 1,400 deer living around Nara Park, and they are closely connected with the gods. There is a legend that in AD768, the first of the four gods of Kasugataisha Shrine traveled all the way from Ibaraki Prefecture North of Tokyo, to Mt. Mikasa in Nara, on a white deer. Thereafter, deer were considered sacred, and killing one was punishable by death. Today, they are protected as Natural Monuments, and revered as holy animals in Nara. The deer are wild, but they enjoy eating the special crackers called “shika senbei”, that are sold around Nara Park, and will approach humans. These crackers are especially made to be safe for the deer and are the only food you can give them. Sometimes they can get impatient to eat the crackers, so be careful with small children, who can feel overwhelmed. Avoid teasing the deer or trying to grab them. If you have no food, they will usually leave you alone, so hold up your hands to show they are empty, and the deer will move on. Because male deer can become aggressive, they have their antlers painlessly cut every autumn in a ritual that has continued unchanged since the Edo period. Visitors can see this up close in October.

Three things to remember when you encounter deer:

• Don't give them any food except the special crackers, shika senbei
• Don't tease or harass the deer; they are wild animals
• Don't give them any trash such as paper or plastic –– it can kill them

Last update: 2023-11-08

Venue Details & Access Info

469 Zoshicho, Nara (Nara Park)



From JR Nara Station, Kintetsu Nara Station,
- Take the loop bus and alight at the Kasugataisha Omotesando stop.

Related VenuesKasugataisha Shrine
Nara Park
Nara Park Baby Deer

Name/address in local language

  • Nara’s Sacred Deer
  • address 奈良市雑司町469(奈良公園) 469 Zoshicho, Nara (Nara Park)
  • Address
Opening Time & Admissions
Opening Hours

11:00 - 14:00 (last admission 13:30)
closed every Monday

Contact Details


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