The Nara Deer Park is a historical park in Japan that’s famous for having hundreds of friendly deer you can feed and take pictures with. The semi-wild deer roam around the park freely and interacting with them can be lots of fun.
Also scattered around the 1,600-acre Nara Park are a bunch of old temples and shrines from hundreds of years ago, when Nara was the ancient capital of Japan.
For us, the highlight of the park (aside from feeding the deer) would have to be the huge Todaiji Temple, one of the most spectacular monuments we’ve seen in Japan.
A final plus is that Nara is easy to visit from Osaka and Kyoto, two other Japanese tourism hotspots. This travel guide will explain how to get to the Nara Park, and everything you need to know before you go!
Nara Deer Park – What To Expect
The Nara Park has more than 1,000 deer roaming the grounds, so you won’t have any trouble finding them!
They’re semi-wild, but friendly, and the park has special cracker stands where you can buy a pack of healthy crackers for 200 Yen and hand feed them to the deer.
Some of the deer at the park have even learned to nod their heads (like they’re bowing) as a trick to earn the crackers! In Japan, even the animals know their manners.
It’s a good idea to break the crackers into pieces so they last longer and you get more photos.
After you run out of crackers, you can show the deer your empty hands so they know the food is all gone, otherwise they may get pushy for more.
We didn’t see any aggressive behavior from the deer in two visits to Nara, but it does happen sometimes and people can get hurt.
Just make sure you don’t tease the deer by hiding food behind your back or holding it away from them, otherwise they can get annoyed.
Overall, it’s a unique and fun experience that I can’t say I’ve heard of anywhere else!
More Things To Do & See In Nara Park
- Nandaimon Gate: Ancient wooden gate with two Japanese demon statues guarding the entrance.
- Kofuku-ji Temple: Old temple from 669 AD that has a 5-story wooden pagoda.
- Todai-ji Temple: Giant monument and one of Japan’s most spectacular landmarks. Must see!
- Kasuga-Taisha Shrine: Orange Shinto shrine at the end of the forest path.
FREE as of 2021.
There’s no entrance fee at the park, although the Todaiji Temple costs 600¥ ($6 USD) to enter.
You can buy a stack of cookies to feed the deer for ¥200 ($2).
How To Get To Nara Deer Park
The Nara Park is located just east of Nara city in Japan, and it’s easy to reach from either Osaka or Kyoto.
From Kyoto, it’s a 30-60 minute ride south on one of the Kintetsu rail lines.
From Osaka, start at Namba Station and then it’s a 45 minute ride east on the Kintetsu lines.
When To Visit
Any time of day is good for visiting the Japan deer park, although it can get a bit busy by noon.
Nara isn’t really known for being a top place to see koyo (fall colors), but you can still see some bright red leaves on plenty of the trees. We went in mid-November and it was at its peak.
The deer can be seen year round, even in chilly weather.
Where To Stay In Kyoto
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Hotel Mikado in Osaka for 4,000 Yen ($30 USD). As a solo traveler or couple, you won't find a better budget hotel in Japan!
For this price we got a clean, private room with heat/AC, fridge, TV, and super fast WiFi. The room is a little small but comfy, and bathrooms are shared, but that's the norm in Japan.
The location was perfect -- just a 2 minute walk from restaurants and the train stations, and only a 15 minute ride to Osaka Castle and Dotonbori shopping street. We also made day trips to Himeji, Kyoto, and Nara!
Prices may fluctuate from time to time, so just keep an eye out for a good deal.
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