The more than 1,000 native deer (shika) in Nara Park in Nara Prefecture are considered to be messengers of the gods and a national treasure, so they are protected within the city limits due to their sacred connection to Nara's Kasuga Taisha Shrine. Because of their protected status, they are allowed to roam freely throughout the park and the streets. Special rice crackers are sold to feed the deer.
Every year hundreds of people are injured by the deer, and the number of injuries are increasing each year. Last year eight people suffered fractures, including hip fractures. Foreign tourists are among those injured, with five of the eight serious fractures last year affecting tourists visiting from abroad. In December of last year, the prefecture began giving out information booklets in several languages, to visitors with warnings not to irritate the deer.
When I visited in 2012, I witnessed some children crying because of aggressive deer, but I didn't see anyone get hurt. They look very cute, but you have to be careful!