Spending Christmas with the deer at Nara Park

When we were looking for things to do in Japan at Christmas, feeding deer at Nara Park seemed like the perfect way to spend the day.

Christmas morning was an early one, especially for Mark who traditionally doesn’t even open his eyes until the afternoon. We got up and made some toast and coffee before eagerly sharing our novelty presents with each other. The mix of silly things we’d managed to both find was pretty impressive and it was the perfect way to start the day.

After all of our gifts were exchanged it was time to head out and make our way to Nara Park to spend the day with the deer. It only took an hour from when we left the hostel to when we arrived at Nara Station and when we spotted a photo booth on our way out we couldn’t resist getting some photos. These machines are pretty addictive and really weird as they make ‘improvements’ to your face which just make us look like alien babies.

The walk to the park was fairly simple and we were soon walking amongst temples and shrines, spotting a couple of deer on near the entrance to the park too. We’d been advised by one of the girls we’d spent Christmas Eve with to skip the first few deer you see and just head straight into the park so we went straight on. It wasn’t a long walk before there were loads of deer about, and although we grabbed some crackers near the entrance we decided too wait for a quieter spot to get them out.

Nara Park is beautiful and even without the deer it would have been a nice way to spend Christmas day. There were ponds and some beautiful forest areas filled with lanterns and shrines. Throughout the park there were deer everywhere, some of which were really eager for a tasty snack and others which weren’t bothered about our presence until they heard us rustling the bag as we dug for crackers. That’s when they’d stop nibbling on the grass and out of nowhere up to 10 more deer would appear and start bowing at you to ask for crackers.

There were a few deer which were a little more aggressive, usually the ones in the busier areas near shops where they sold the crackers. If you have crackers anywhere where they can smell them they’ll try to take them from you by force, chewing on the pocket or bag you’ve hidden them in. Others will follow you around and nudge you in the legs and bum, which is when you’re thankful they don’t have their antlers to do any real damage. The experience was pretty funny, especially when they were nudging Mark or getting up close trying to sniff out some food.

While we were exploring the shrines we discovered a book especially for getting stamps from each shrine you visit. I couldn’t resist such a unique souvenir and can’t wait to fill it with mementos from different shrines throughout Japan. Each stamp is accompanied by the name of the place and the date you visited, all handwritten in ink with a brush. They’re all beautiful and totally unique to the time and place when they’re created.

After a long day of walking and feeding deer we decided it was time to head back to Osaka. We gave the last of our crackers to a deer sat by a tree who we nicknamed ‘Geebles’ because of a noise he made when Mark was taking too long dishing out the treats.

Back at the hostel we had a chilled evening and waited for everyone to return with their random gashapons so that we could trade them. The mix of things we all choose was totally different, but everyone seemed pretty happy with what they got in the end. It was a great way to end Christmas day and although we’re missing spending time with family and friends back home we couldn’t have asked for better people to spend it with while we’re here.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.