If you’ve always wanted to pet a woodland creature up close, there’s a place a few hours away by plane that’s perfect for you. In Nara, Japan, the deer are considered sacred and are free to wander around on their own. According to Wired.com, the entire population consists of approximately 300,000 people and 1,000 deer and the latter, well, they look just as at home in parking lots, bus stops, and courtyards as they do in forests.
In fact, you‘ll notice some of them frequenting the same place over and over again. Urban wildlife photographer Yoko Ishii, who was inspired to spend four years documenting deer in her project Beyond the Border, saw two of them so often during her campaign that she named them Chloé and Santé.
Ready for you own Nara adventure? Here are a few things to include in your itinerary.
Stay at a ryokan.
A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn. There are many different kinds of them in Japan, but most feature tatami mats, futon beds, yukata robes, and traditional meals and baths. In Nara, Kankaso is one of the more popular choices. It’s also very near to two favorite attractions: Todai-ji Temple and Nara Park.
Visit the temples.
There are lots of beautiful and peaceful temples in Nara. Todai-ji Temple, for example, has a massive Buddha that you can’t miss.
Enjoy the wildlife.
While the deer pretty much roam everywhere, you can interact with them more at Nara Park. Do also drop by Yoshikien Garden and check out their pond garden, moss garden, and tea ceremony garden.
PHOTOS: Teddy Song/Flickr Creative Commons, TANAKA Juuyoh/Flickr Creative Commons, Xurxo Martinez/Flickr Creative Commons, m-louis/Flickr Creative Commons