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Nara: Bronze Statue of Sacred Deer Installed at Kasuga Taisha Shrine

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The sacred deer statue is unveiled at Kasuga Taisha shrine in Nara on Dec. 16.

NARA — A bronze statue depicting a deity’s messenger deer was installed at the Kasuga Taisha shrine world heritage site in Nara.

Deer are one of the symbols of Nara tourism, and this is said to derive from the legend that the deity Takemikazuchi no Mikoto descended on the ground of Nara on a white deer. The shrine venerates Takemikazuchi no Mikoto and has long protected the area’s deer, which it calls shinroku devine deer.

The deer statue is 3 meters tall and carries a mirror, a symbol of divinity, and sakaki, a plant used in rituals since ancient times, on its back.

It was installed near Ni no Torii, or the Second Torii Gate, on the walkway to the shrine. It was built in commemoration of major renovations done to Wakamiya Shrine in the precincts of Kasuga Taisha.

Kasuga Taisha also aims to help people deepen their understanding of the faith by promoting the statue as a photo spot.

At the unveiling ceremony held on Dec. 16, Hirotada Kasannoin, chief priest of the shrine, said, “I hope that the history of coexistence between humans and deer in Nara will become more widely known through the presence of the sacred deer statue.”