Cherry blossom season typically starts early April in Japan. Swirls of pink flowers dance from treetops to the ground creating a spring wonderland. As visitors and tourists stay home to follow physical distancing guidelines, a group of several deer relish in the sea of delicate aromas and gentle sights.
The deer were said to have embraced the empty park just one day after Prime Minister Shinzō Abe declared a state of emergency in most parts of Japan.
There are approximately 1,000 sika deer living in Nara Park. However, they spend most of their time in unpopulated areas during tourist season. The calm serenity brought by an otherwise global emergency has brought many deer out to enjoy the area.
According to local folklore, the deer were once considered sacred. The tale tells of Takemikazuchi-no-mikoto, one of four gods of the Kasuga Shrine, who appeared to ride on a sika deer. Their sacred status protected them from hunters as those who killed them would be punished by death. However, after World War II, the deer were no longer under a sacred status and instead considered to be national treasures. They are still treated in high regard and respect.
The park allows visitors to feed them specially made “deer crackers” as a token of appreciation. The deer tend to flock in large numbers for the special treat. Now, in an empty park, the deer continue to flock in the freedom of space to enjoy a splendid view.
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