There's a Japanese City Where Deer Roam The Streets Freely

There's a Japanese City Where Deer Roam The Streets Freely

One photographer has spent years documenting the local deer who walk the streets freely in the Japanese city of Nara.

The sika deer have a reputation for being problematic for farmers, given their feeding habits. So much so, local governments actively asked locals to help control the population. As a consequence, almost half a million were eliminated back in 2017.

Nara, however, is one place the animals are highly regarded. They walk of their own accord around the midtown section of the ancient capital. Here, they are protected as a “special national treasure,” due to the belief they are “divine servants” of the Kasuga shrine.

The photographer behind the photos is Yoko Ishii. Here, we’re showcasing some of her recent works. Speaking of the images, she said:

These picturesque moments when early in the morning the deer can be found standing in the middle of desolate intersections, not bound by man’s borders and laws, yet inhabiting a man-made city is fascinating and inspiring […] I dream that one day they will occupy an abandoned town.

You can find Ishii’s book “Dear Deer” from 2015 right here. For more of her work, visit Ishii’s website and Facebook page.

All images courtesy, and used with permission of, Yoko Ishii.

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1 Comment

Jordan McChesney's picture

They’re cute for sure, but as soon as they know you have food, play time is over. They’ll bite and headbutt you like there’s no tomorrow, haha.

You can also find a similar experience to this in Hiroshima, on an island called Miyajima. I found those deer to be a little more chill.