The deer of Nara Park in Japan are free to roam around the park and often can be seen on the streets of the town in the summer. They are not afraid of people and visitors can get up close to the deer, which rest on the streets to enjoy the cooler evening temperatures. Visitors can also purchase special “deer-crackers” to feed the deer in the park.
According to local folklore, deer from this area were considered sacred because of a visit from a god from a nearby shrine. The god appeared on Mt. Mikasa-yama riding a white deer.
From that point on, the deer were considered divine and sacred and killing one was punishable by death. After World War II the deer were officially stripped of their sacred/divine status, and were instead designated as national treasures and are still protected as such.
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