photos from FOUNDATION FOR THE PROTECTION OF DEER IN NARA
It has been beautiful weather here in Kansai(western Japan) with clear autumn sky. We had a long weekend with a National Holiday on Monday (Sports Day,
October 12th) . Many schools have Sports Day event today. It is also Aki matsuri (autumn festival) season. We could see Danjiri float passing with the loud cheer.
I was brought up in Nara and autumn air reminds me of the annual Deer-antler cutting ceremony in Nara park.
If you have already visited Nara, you must remember deer walking freely in the park, sometimes begging for food. Deer are considered to be sacred animal and are protected in the park. You may think they are quiet but the deer in Nara park know they are considered to be sacred and they can be quite insolent and demanding! When they are hungry, then can be quite aggressive also.
Deer became sacred existence because the God ensurained in Kasuga shirine in Nara Park was said to come riding on a white deer. There are approx 1200 deer in the park, and Deer-antler cutting ceremony has started in 1671 (Edo period).
You can see the video from here:
(please click the second photo from the left in the list)
There antler can become very sharp and dangerous and since both human and deer need to coexist, this ceremony is inevitable.
Seko (beaters) drive deer and catch and then the Shinto priest cut the antler. They give water to deer who is very excited and make them calm down. The antler are dedicated to shrine.
I have been to see this ceremony just once but this event is always appear in the seasonal news and the sight always reminds me of the memory.
Deer have been a loved motif and considered to be auspicious animal. You can see deer motif kimono or obi sometimes.
Deer and Jurojin (one of the Seven God) are often used as a motif on fukusa:
Another fukusa with Jurojin and deer:
Deer are also seen in Japanese traditional Arisugawa pattern(Arisgawa is one of the house of imperial prince)
Here is obi example with deer in Arisgawa pattern:
You can see more deer motif obi and kimono(and fukusa also) by entering the keyword as `deer'.
We hope you enjoy the deer motif which has been loved in Japan.