With foreign visitor numbers to Nara Park plummeting, are the city’s deer in danger of starving?
soranews24.com -- Mar 30
Pretty much everyone who visits Nara stops by the park to feed crackers to the deer, so are the smaller crowds leaving them hungry?

Tourism numbers are down across Japan since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, but the effect has been especially severe in central Japan. An especially large portion of the international travelers who visit the cities of Kyoto and Nara come from China, and with the coronavirus epidemic originating in Wuhan, Japan’s two former capitals have been seeing smaller crowds for roughly two months now.

It’s not just hotels, restaurants, and temples that are receiving fewer visitors, either. Nara’s biggest tourist draw is Nara Park, the expansive green space in the city center that’s home to herds of dear who freely roam the grounds. Vendors in the park sell “shika senbei,” special rice crackers visitors feed to the deer, but fewer visitors means fewer deer cracker customers. That’s making many people to worry about whether or not the deer are in danger of going hungry, especially since the animals have recently been spotted in parts of the city where they’re not such a common sight.

While Nara Park’s deer are tame, in the sense that they’re relatively calm and used to being around people, they are still wild animals. No one puts them in enclosures at night or sets out bowls of food and water for them, and while they enjoy the crackers as tasty treats, they’re not a critical necessary part of the animals’ diet. If anything, the association told us the deer might actually be enjoying the smaller crowds, making the park a quieter, less potentially stressful environment than it otherwise would be.

So don’t worry about Nara Park’s deer. They’re doing just fine.

News source: soranews24.com
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