Nara Park officials have created a series of instructional videos on proper etiquette for interacting with famous deer at the park, after a spate of incidents have left tourists attacked by the free-roaming national treasures.
Nara Park is home to over 1,000 shika (deer) that are well known as a sacred symbol of the city with a penchant for eating senbei rice crackers out of tourists’ hands.
While the deer are among the cutest nationally designated natural treasures, they are still wild animals, and require proper handling to avoid trouble.
According to the Nara Park Management Office, 192 deer-related incidents were reported in fiscal 2019, including cases where visitors were bitten and kicked.
These incidents have spurred the park office to produce a series of videos titled “Shika Manner” in a bid to help visitors better understand how to safely interact with deer.
a Shika Manner instructional video on YouTube. Deer feeding etiquette is illustrated in this screengrab from a Shika Manner instructional video on YouTube.
Although the prefectural government and other authorities had taken such measures as erecting signs in the park to urge caution when feeding the animals, the park office decided to make the videos in the hopes of reaching a wider audience to make park rules known in advance.
So far, office employees have made six of the one-minute videos, covering topics such as feeding etiquette, traffic accidents and dog-walking do’s and don’ts.
Videos in the series use illustrations and photos to explain the points in an easy-to-understand manner.
In a video about rice crackers, visitors are advised to hand over snacks quickly, or else the deer might attempt to bite or headbutt in frustration. After running out of crackers, visitors are instructed to show their empty palms so the deer can see that there is no more food.
The video about traffic accidents cautions that deer travel in herds, so if one is crossing a road, more may soon follow.
“We hope visitors will learn in advance before coming to Nara how to interact with deer safely and with a sense of security,” said a park official.
The videos can be seen on YouTube, the Nara Park website, the prefectural government’s website and on a monitor in Kintetsu Nara Station.