If You Give a Deer a Cracker

If You Give a Deer a Cracker

Nara is a beautiful city, often overlooked by travelers. It is famous for it’s many temples that are all recognized as World Heritage Sites, and of course for their sacred Nara deer (shika) that roam freely on the temple grounds.

Nara - 2011

It is popular to buy shika senbei, which are rice crackers used to feed the deer. The following is my story of what happens if you give a deer a cracker.

If You Give a Deer a Cracker

Nara - 2011

If you give a deer a cracker,

He’ll not want to eat your stupid cracker.

When you hold out the cracker,

He’ll probably stick out his tongue and turn his head in disgust.

Nara - 2011

When you try to offer it again,

Then you start to notice why he doesn’t want your cracker.

Nara - 2011

When there’s someone handing out better food, you know you have no chance,

So you move to a new area further away.

When you offer a cracker to these new deer,

He’ll take a little interest in your cracker.

Nara - 2011

He might sniff it and then finally nibble away at it.

He may even call his friends over to get a cracker as well.

When all his friends come over,

You’ll give them every cracker you have.

He’ll continue to call more friends over, even though you’re out of crackers.

When his last friend comes and you don’t have a cracker, he’ll get angry.

Nara - 2011

So you try to back away from the angry deer,

When you back away he’ll just follow you.

He’ll start nipping at you and head butting you.

He’ll even start to rip apart your purse, hoping you’re hiding more crackers inside.

When you spot a temple, you try to run inside to escape the deer.

Then you notice, there’s nowhere the deer can’t go.

Which is bad for you when no one will help you as you’re getting attacked.

Nara - 2011

He’ll continue to follow you, until you direct him to another poor soul handing out crackers.

Looking around, you spot a baby deer.

Nara - 2011

He’s sniffing the air and the lingering scent of crackers will remind him that he’s hungry.


He’ll approach you and let you take photos of him.

And chances are if you stop and hold out your hand to give him a pet,

He’s going to want a cracker to go with it.


Have you been to Nara? What was your experience with the deer?



  1. July 30, 2013 / 6:23 am

    They are so cute and this is too funny. Good thing they don’t have antlers.

    • Beth Williams
      August 1, 2013 / 1:07 pm

      They do have antlers! Well, a little bit. Each October they hold a ceremony for cutting the antlers, but the rest of the year they let them grow. Luckily, I visited in early November, just 2 weeks after the antler cutting ceremony. :)

  2. July 29, 2013 / 11:33 pm

    Oh my gosh, what a fun looking place! I’m sure the deer can get a little pushy, just like the goats at any petting zoo that gets a lot of traffic. They are used to getting fed and when they don’t, they get a little ornery. Still though, not only does it look like a beautiful place, it looks like a lot of fun too!

    • Beth Williams
      August 1, 2013 / 1:02 pm

      It really is such a fun place! One of my favorites in Japan. If you ever get the chance to visit, do go!

  3. July 29, 2013 / 7:47 am

    Its amazing how these deers are roaming around freely on the temple grounds. Quite fascinating.

    • Beth Williams
      July 29, 2013 / 5:20 pm

      It’s really nice to have them roaming freely… definitely a reason many tourists visit Nara.

  4. July 16, 2013 / 2:19 am

    I have not been to Nara. But, based on the adorableness of your photos, that is a place I’d like to visit. How cute!!!

    • Beth Williams
      July 17, 2013 / 5:42 pm

      If you ever get the chance, do go! But be careful of getting mauled by deer. They may be adorable, but they’re also a bit vicious!