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Dream Job? Easy. Sacred Animal.

Aggressively nosing for food. Sacred deer of Nara.

Nara, Japan. Being a sacred animal is probably the best job in the world. You get to do whatever you want, whenever you want, and can’t nobody say nothing about it. In fact, people will most likely find some spiritual significance in your most mundane activities. “Look! The sacred cow took a dump on the grass!” Or, “Behold! That sacred monkey is humping that other sacred monkey!” This kind of constant reinforcement would make just about any earthly creature feel exceedingly smug, which happens to be one of the most important qualities of a sacred animal: smugness. These animals are, after all, holier than thou in the true sense of the expression. And because of their elevated status they also tend to exert a strong sense of self-entitlement. They want what they want when they want it. If they have to stomp a hoof or shriek like a banshee to get it, then by Jove they will.

The sacred deer at Nara in Japan’s Kansai region are no exception. They have perfected the profession of sacred animal. When they suspect that a pilgrim or tourist has something even remotely digestible in his bag, pocket, shoe, etc., they perform a series of requests: batting of the eyelashes, nuzzling of the nose. If the human doesn’t respond to these entreaties the deer resort to more petulant behavior to get their snack, namely biting, kicking, and head butting. It’s not like the human takes much offense to this sort of harassment anyway. On the contrary, he has just been kicked in the groin by a sacred deer! That must confer some sort of holiness on a person, no?

The sacred deer swarm some civilians.

You've been warned.

Starting to get a tad pissy

Demanding a comestible entrance fee

So smug.

Deceptively sweet.

Practical Info: Sacred deer can be spotted anywhere between Todai-ji temple and Kasuga Taisha shrine. Bring snacks and padded pants.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I don’t believe I have ever read a better lead-in paragraph!!

    March 11, 2012
    • Sophie #

      Thanks Judith! I had a good subject 😉

      March 14, 2012

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