The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

Dear oh deer

Related to the previous post – the Japanese are surprisingly tuned to the rhythms of nature, even in a big city like Tokyo. Here the seasons are followed closely by people who seldom if ever see a sunset or enjoy a starlit summer evening. And wildlife is everywhere: butterflies, flutter-by in numbers much greater than in Europe; the crows menace the garbage of even the most central neighbourhoods and the cicadas electrify the summer heat as if you were in the Amazon.

Big animals too can make an appearance, sometimes where you would least expect them: A seal in Tokyo Bay became a national celebrity a few years ago; there was a monkey in Shibuya station last month and bears cause some trouble in the north most hungry winters. But who`d have thought the Sika deer of Nara`s famous deer park would be making the news for all the wrong reasons.

The deer in Nara are part of the cultural heritage of that beautiful city and a major draw for tourists. Indeed when you are used to deer being skittish, almost invisible creatures of the forest and mountains, the camera eating, over-fed intimacy of your first encounter with a Nara deer is rather disappointing. But they do look lovely from a distance wandering the ancient shaded glens and bamboo forests of Kasugayama Forest Reserve and Nara park; or trotting through the lanterns of a temple as in the picture above. Unfortunately their numbers have increased beyond the supportable capacity of the park and they are now literally eating the forests away. Full story here.

To the Japanese killing such animals in a cull is not an easy idea to swallow, the Disney Bambification of all deer and indeed all “cute” animals has made them almost sacred. Aside from the Nara deer actually being genuinely sacred which makes it all a bit complicated.  Pity there isn`t a cute whale movie out that would have the same effect on the whaling industry.

I should be working on competitions and projects now but just wanted to share this with you.

Back to work now.

Bye Damon


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