“Swarm of deer at Nara Park”, Nara, c. 1910.

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“Swarm of deer at Nara Park”, Nara, c. 1910.

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Nara Park, Nara, c. 1910.

“The English-speaking world knows this beautiful deer as the ‘sika deer’. ‘Sika’ is the Japanese word for deer (although pronounced ‘she-ka’), so this linquistic hybrid results in the redundant deer-deer … The deer’s more evocative and descriptive Chinese name, my hwa lu, means white-flower deer. This name refers to the white spots arrayed over the body that are particularly apparent in the summer coat.

“… Indeed, it is the sacred deer of Japan where it occupies the sanctuary grounds surrounding many Shinto shrines and temples. An ancient legend says that a god rode into Nara Temple near Kyoto (probably the most famous temple in Japan, which has numerous sika deer yet today) on the back of a sika deer.”

Sika Deer: Biology and Management of Native and Introduced Populations, edited by Dale R. McCullough, Seiki Takatsuki & Koichi Kaji, 2008

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