Deer are as polite, selfie-ready as people in old Japan

Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 04 2017 08:13 PM

Deer roam freely and mingle with tourists in Nara, one of the oldest cities in Japan. Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

Deer roam freely and mingle with tourists in Nara, one of the oldest cities in Japan. Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

Deer roam freely and mingle with tourists in Nara, one of the oldest cities in Japan. Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

Deer roam freely and mingle with tourists in Nara, one of the oldest cities in Japan. Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

NARA, Japan – Deer bow to tourists for biscuits then pose for selfies in this mountainside temple city that showcases old world Japan.

Some 1,200 deer roam the area that was Japan's ancient capital. The “messengers of the gods” in Shinto religion mingle with visitors around the Todai-ji temple, which houses one of the country's largest Buddha statues.

The gentle animals have been caught on video several times bowing their head to tourists who feed them thin, disc-shaped cookies. The Japanese, one of the most polite people in the world, bow to show respect or gratitude.

The animals are also reputed to observe pedestrian rules, stopping at red lights. Locals say a dedicated hotline is available to rescue them if they are hurt.

While deer don't attack humans, locals recommend that tourists keep their wallets, smartphones and other belongings in one bag when interacting with the animals, as some have been reported to chew on things that stick out from back pockets such as cash.

Nara is around an hour's drive from Osaka and is also accessible by train. Cebu Pacific will increase flights between Manila and Osaka to 6 from 5 from November 3 to December 6 in anticipation of holiday season demand.