Nara Deer Park: You Can Meet Friendly/Unfriendly Deer For Free
A deer bit me in Japan.
Nara Deer Park Review
An hour east of Osaka by local trains will get you to Nara station. From there, it’s a 20 minute walk to Nara deer park along the “tourist” road. It’s actually a pretty nice road filled with shops and it has been closed off from cars so you can walk around comfortably. If you decide to eat in this area, be aware that the food is at “tourist” level. I went to a restaurant and decided not to finish the meal since there’s so much more good food in Osaka.
Continuing east from the station will get you to the temple grounds. Along the way you’ll see a denser population of deer, vendors and tourists.
It’s a completely free park where deer roam around the temple grounds. There are no fences or borders to keep the deer within the temple grounds, they just frequent it due to the tourism and snacks. I get it, I like snacks too.
There are several temples around the grounds and real bathrooms too in the visitor center.
There are friendly and unfriendly deer throughout the park and you’re free to pet them. You might want to pet the friendly ones if you can figure it out. For 150JPY, you can pick up a 5-pack of deer cookies.
I was handing out ONE cookie to ONE deer and then another deer showed up. Then another. And Another. This went on until there were 5 deer following me for my deer cookies I was holding in my hand. To stop me from running away a deer bit my shirt (and part of me) to stop me from running. At that point I just threw the cookies on the ground and bailed. Safety first.
Definitely a unique experience and worth the journey.