The autumn tradition, ‘Cutting stag horns’ started on the 8th of October in Nara Park, Japan. This is a traditional event handed down from Edo times (late 1600s to early 1800s), to prevent stags from injuring people and other deer during the rutting season.
Men wearing traditional ‘happi’ coats drive out the deer and knock down the fleeing stags, before attaching a crucifix-like tool to which helps them to control the animals. Local priests then quickly saw off the stags’ horns.
Around Nara Park, famous for its many deer, more than 100 of the animals are hit and killed by cars every year. This year, for the first time, warning signs were displayed for drivers by the ‘Foundation for the Protection of Deer in Nara.’ Cutting of stag horns will resume from 12pm on the 10th of October.
Translated and adapted from asahi.com
Never heard of Nara? A quick guide to one of Japan’s lesser-known cities.
Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 794 and is situated in the Kansai region, close to Kyoto and Osaka.
Nara Koen (Nara Park) is a public park designated a ‘place of scenic beauty’ where more than 1,200 deer roam freely and enjoy being fed by visitors.
According to legend, a mythological god, Takemikazuchi, arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the newly built capital. For a long time, deer were regarded as heavenly animals, protecting the city.
After World War II the deer were officially stripped of their divine status and were instead designated as National Treasures.
Nara isn’t just famous for its deer. It has countless temples and shrines, plus the amazing Buddhist temple ‘Todai-ji’, the world’s largest wooden structure housing the world’s largest bronze statue of a Buddha Vairocana, or what the Japanese call ‘Daibutsu’ (Big Buddha).