we contemplated skipping the day trip to nara all together. we grew up around deer so it didn’t seem worth the bumpy train ride through the mountains—my husband gets pretty severe kinetosis. we were thrilled to be wrong. it may have been the most enjoyable thing we did together. in retrospect it makes sense, we both get more excited about animals than people. and when they look like this, how could you not love them? the secret to enjoying the deer in nara is this—either buy shika sembei (deer biscuits) and quickly feed the deer or do not purchase biscuits at all. running around trying to photograph the deer while taunting them with biscuits proved traumatic for many visitors that day. the deer have learned that head-butting the men in the groin make the biscuits magically fall from the sky. since women often squeal and run, the deer chase them in a herd until the biscuits are surrendered. they do seem to leave the children alone for the most part, only reaching high into the air to snatch the biscuits from the smallest ones. and the cutest thing happens while they await their treat—they bow! some say they have learned to imitate the japanese, others (my husband) says they are simply preparing to buck you in the crotch. either way, it is done with the tongue slightly out and is the cutest thing i’ve ever seen.