Nara Park is a public park which is located in the city of Nara. The park is at the foot of Mount Wakakusa and is one of the oldest parks in Japan. The park is a renowned tourist attraction of the country and is visited by many for various reasons including leisure, learning, experience or experiment. In the course of this research, a lot has been learnt about the park. The park is a home to over 1200 wild Sika Deer. Buddhist temples are also a source of attraction in the area specifically the 50ft tall statue of The Buddha.
Upon visiting the park, it is natural to be grasped the scenic beauty and the picturesque view of the place. There are large number of people who visit the park on a daily basis. Most of them were tourists while a few were city locals. The field visit to Nara Park was done with the aim to understand the impact of tourists on the place. Over a long period of time, number of tourists, visiting the Nara Park has exponentially increased.
The park is a home a various deer and hence it is imperative that tourists visiting the place are posed to a constant risk of being attacked by a deer. A total of 164 cases were reported in the previous year which included severe injuries caused to tourists. This essay throws light on the worsening state of the park caused by the tourists. The place was visited as a field trip to gain an enhanced understanding on the subject. A few recommendations to improve upon the current situation have also been added in the essay for a brighter future of the park.
Primary and secondary research was conducted throughout the entire process. Research was based upon leading journal articles and online newspapers. However, it was the personal interviews with the management of the park that deepened the insight on the subject.
In the views of (Chakraborty, et.al, 2017), tourist amid the greenery of Nara National Park as it has exceptional collection of museums and ponds. But most importantly Nara is famous for its deer and considered as the messengers of god. These deer’s are semi domesticated and behave pretty well with tourist. Nara has engaged many families by providing them with amazing experience. According to (Kiyuna, et. al, 2017), deer freely roam around in both parks and temples. Deer’s are specially considered as divine in this region. This park serves as a home to millions of deer roaming freely considered as the messenger of god. Deer’s are smart enough has they have learned how to bow to the tourist or ask them for fed. These deer gaze along the corridors of temple side by grass or ponds of the beautiful scenery.
According to the assessments of (Johnston, 2016), it is stated that even the deer’s are polite in Japan, as well as very understanding like fi a tourist bow to deer they bow back in the favor expecting that tourist feed them with food. There are no entry charges for Nara National park; it is absolutely free for tourist to roam around.
In their perception (Garshelis et. al, 2017), says that park is a sign of advising deer and providing national treasure. Park is said to be very friendly and lovely as deer’s roam around freely. Many food items are available to feed the deer’s. It is recommended by people who visited Nara that planning a day at Nara is relaxing and very enjoyable.
However, government official Yuichiro Kitabata mentions that this trend of deer injuring tourists has been established because of misbehavior demonstrated by the tourists. He mentions that the influx of visitors and their need to take the perfect picture with the animals makes them behave in a rude manner (New York Post, 2018).
Methods and Results
The trip was conducted with an aim to understand the impact of tourists on the Nara Park. In order to conduct any research, either primary or secondary sources of information can be used. Primary data includes interviews, conferences wherein secondary data includes data from magazine, newspaper, online portals or book (Bryman, 2015). For this particular article the research is done from secondary sources that are from journals, online sources, newspaper articles as well as from personal experience in the Nara national park.
Secondary research had been conducted before the trip and hence the trip was a way to get a deepened understanding on the issue. Planning and reaching to the destination is not at difficult task as Nara is a day trip from cities like Osaka, Kansai and Kyoto. Nara is connected to these cities by proper transport facilities via trains, buses or private cars.
Nara Park has been welcoming tourists since a long time. Through the visit, it was established that there are various different kinds of tourists who visit Nara Park for various purposes. The scenic beauty of the park provides a sense of profoundness to certain people. Upon further interactions, it was established that many tourists visit the place as an existential mode indicating that they find peace and answers to life at the park leading to enlightenment.
Few of the tourists were visiting the place with their families as a recreational mode. They needed a time away from their everyday lives. Nara Park served as a source of entertainment. Feeding deer and walking around the park was a leisurely activity for them. Some of the tourists that visited were had come to stay in Japan for a short while and had further travel plans outside the country. A lot of people coming there anticipate pleasure while a few anticipate learning. The place serves a different purpose for every individual there and it is interesting to note the difference.
Nara Park is a wide landscape of sheer beauty and lush green environment. This national park has gained attention because if deer are treated as heavenly animals then it will make this particular place as beautiful city of Nara. These deer are adorable and explains that they are worth paying 150yen and enjoying the day with them. In the park it was seen that it has all plants growing and has the richest collection of traditional sites and species of plants. It is famous as it helps tourist to get personal with semi wild deer’s in beautiful lush woodlands, gardens and wide open spaces.
Nara park is one of them which is oven 24 hrs., other than that Gangoji temple is fort Buddhist temple and is considered it UNESCO heritage site due to its Historic museums. Also Todaji temple and Kasuga Taisha Shrine are great places to be explored by tourist by paying some nominal entrance fee. Apart from that proper guide is provided in the Nara National park so that nothing is missed (Inside Kyoto, 2017).
However, there were various observations that were made during the trip. Of course, the place is a home to many deer and they can easily be spotted (Gunst, Vasey & Leca, 2017). Certain observations that gained remarkable attention and pressed our research further were as below:
Tourists misbehaving with deer
There were many tourists who had bought deer snacks for the deer. However, the only reason behind brining those deer treats was to get a good picture with the deer. Many tourists were simply luring the deer by showing them crackers and when the deer approached the food, the tourist would hide it away and pose for a picture. Some tourists even do funny dances to irritate the deer and such a behavior would often make the deer angry leading to minor injuries.
Some of the tourists were also seen doing things which were meant at intentionally harming the deer. Such a behavior obviously garnered a reaction from the deer leading to injury. Because of this reason deer’s get irritated and loss their patience level which often leads to a bite by deer at tourist palm or their buttocks (Andersen et. al, 2017).
People often believe, that deer can be tamed and domesticated. However, they fail to understand that even if deer are friendly and harmless, they are wild animals and they must not be instigated further.
One more noticeable disturbance caused by tourists in the park was excessive littering by the tourists. There was a lot of dirt in the area and unfortunately it is not being reported in the news. It is not rare to see plastic cups and bottles thrown at random places. People were seen defecating in open spaces in the park. Tourists were buying crackers to feed the deer. But they were throwing away the wrapper in the park. It was a bad sight to look at. The park management was doing its best to keep the park clean however, irresponsible behavior from the tourists is ruining the place that holds such a gigantic history and culture within.
Upon communicating with various locals, it was established that they are highly unhappy with the way tourists behave. The locals around guided on not getting too close to the deer and not harming the deer. It was evident from their conversations that they consider the park as one of their prized possessions and are still putting efforts in ensuring the safety and cleanliness of the same. The cracker stall owner also specifically mentioned about maintaining a small distance from the deer while feeding the deer.
Visitor experience and motivation
Enhanced visitor experience is a contributing factor towards the development of the park, and has the authorities have to pay special attention on improving the visitor experience. Some of the things which enhance visitor experience and motivate tourists are:
- Various sign boards have been installed in the park which help tourists in understanding how much distance must be maintained from the deer. This enables tourists to have an enriching experience with the deer.
- Guides are present in the park who forbid tourists from conducting any activities that would hard or instigate the deer in any way. These guides also share cultural details of the park. This enhances tourist’s knowledge about the area.
- The scenic beauty of the place enables tourists to have a peaceful experience.
- Different leisurely activities around the park entertain tourists and helps them in having a good time.
- There were a lot of tourists who were clicking pictures with the deer and performing various activities to attract the deer. This was an interesting site for tourists who had come there for leisure.
- There were various shops that were serving food. These shopkeeper were very friendly and an interaction with the shopkeepers regarding the local culture of Japan was helpful in enhancing the knowledge of tourists.
- The branding of the park for around 5 km radius is done very efficiently and attracts tourists.
Nara National park has gained a huge popularity among tourist because of the admiring beauty and natural treasure it offers. Nara has one of the lushest groups of tourist sites in Japan as it is a home of world’s best temples, gardens, shrines, museums and wildlife adventure. Tourist visits Nara national Park to spend the time with deer’s and have an amazing adventure day by feeding them with food.
However, over time, the behavior of tourists has ruined the park and the cases of injuries through deer have increased drastically. This must be improved at any cost else this will lead to a large number of accidents, reduced number of tourists, spoilt brand positioning of the park and worst of all culling of deer. These steps must be taken by both the tourists as well as the local authorities of the place.
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New York Post, 2018, ‘Tourists are ruining the famous Nara Park’, https://nypost.com/2018/02/21/tourists-are-ruining-japans-famous-deer-park/, retrieved on 3 March, 2018.