Nara is famous for the towering wooden structure called the Todai-ji and it’s 1200+ tame deer that look innocent enough until there’s food involved. The deer roam freely around parks that lie above the city. Their numbers have increased so much that the Japanese government is trying to figure out how to control these well fed animals.
The deer are greatly protected by Japanese law and are considered holy by some. A Japanese man and his girlfriend who witnessed him shooting a doe were both sentenced to 6 months in jail March 2010.
There were so many deer when I visited in Oct. 2009 that I really didn’t find a need to feed any of them just for fear of being attacked. I also witnessed a van hit a baby deer crossing a street behind it’s mom. I didn’t stick around to see if it lived. No surprise to me, I witnessed many deer attacking tourist who just couldn’t resist feeding them. Serves them right. I guess I feel like wild animals should be left alone for everyone’s sake. It would have also been a nicer walk through the temple grounds and viewing the amazing Todaiji Temple grounds without having to watch my step.
For more info see the Japan TImes article and the funny take on the deer feeding in this article in the Japanator.com site