The large, grassy areas of the park are kept trim by more than a thousand semi-wild deer. They were originally regarded as divine messengers of one of Kasuga-jinja’s Shinto gods, and anyone who killed a deer was liable to be dispatched shortly after.

During World War II their numbers dwindled to just seventy, but now they’re back with a vengeance – which can make picnicking difficult and presents something of a hazard to young children; try to avoid areas where vendors sell special sembei (crackers) for feeding the deer.

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