How to get to Nara Deer Park + visiting with children || Day trip from Osaka
So you've been researching places to visit in Japan & you've stumbled upon the famous Nara Deer Park. A trip to Nara Deer Park from Osaka or Kyoto is super simple! It looks like a fairytale come true where you can live out your Snow White fantasies of singing to some beautiful friendly deer. Yes, these deer are friendly & used to human contact; However, some tourists forget the deer are wild animals & can sometimes become unfriendly & aggressive. With this in mind, how do you approach this fun activity especially if you are traveling with children?
Here are my tips for surviving Nara Deer Park with all your fingers & children intact.
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GETTING TO NARA DEER PARK
Getting to Nara Deer Park is an easy day trip from Osaka or Kyoto.
From Osaka take a train to Tennoji station. From Tennoji station use your Japan Rail Pass to take the Yamatoji line to Nara station
From Kyoto take a train to Kyoto station. From Kyoto station use your Japan Rail Pass to take the Nara line to Nara station.
To check exact times & routes use Google Maps for further information. Don't forget to collect your Eki stamp at Nara station!
Make sure to keep all your personal belongings inside a closed bag. You don't need to use your map while feeding the deer because you've found them! Well done! Now put that map away. If you're not wearing your hat or gloves, put them securely away or wear them. If you have any loose clothing like scarves, tuck them in. Keep human food secured in your bag too. Human food is not deer food.
HOW TO FEED THE DEER
As you walk through Nara Park you may become aware of small vendors selling deer biscuits. Buy some! This is the only food you can feed the deer. Human food is not deer food. These biscuits cost only a few dollars. But remember to only buy a small amount at a time or you will be bombarded by hungry deer sniffing at your bag.
You can break the biscuits up & throw them at the ground but more than likely the deer will beat you to it & take it out of your hand. If you are giving deer food to children only give them one biscuit at a time otherwise they may become overwhelmed by the amount of deer trying to get at their biscuit stack, start screaming & run. Which will only make the deer chase them more. This advice also goes for adults. I see way too many adults getting overwhelmed, start yelling & running away. It's quite funny to watch a full grown man getting bit on the bum as he runs from a herd of hungry deer. Keep your cool.
Once your food runs out & you make it clear to the deer by showing your empty hands; they will leave you alone pretty quickly. They are pretty smart cookies ;)
You may come across a bigger & more aggressive deer who wants all of the food. My advice is either give the majority of the food to it while feeding other deer around with great difficulty or leave & find another group of deer. When faced with this situation be wary of your person as you may get bitten on the bum. It doesn't hurt too much but it does give you a bit of a fright!
INTERACTING WITH DEER
Petting the deer is fine as they are used to human contact. However, try to avoid touching their faces & antlers as they are sensitive & have many nerve endings. If a deer tries to avoid your touch don't pursue them. You can find many deer resting under trees. If you are with children, patting these deer is probably the best option because they are laying down & relaxed. Most of the deer resting are not interested in food as they have had their fill & are now slipping into a food coma.
Enjoy your day at Nara Park & don't forget to take any rubbish with you & pack plenty of water!