Shika senbei (deer crackers) (鹿せんべい)

Shika senbei are sold in Nara Park, Nara City, to tourists for them to feed the deer that roam free in and around the park. The senbei are produced and sold by the Foundation for the Protection of Deer in Nara Park, and the trademark for these senbei has been registered by the foundation. Shika senbei are not meant for human consumption.

Shika senbei are made from rice bran and grain. As they are sugar free, they are good for the deer. Although they are not harmful to humans, they have no taste.

How to Feed
Deer gather around you as soon as they see you buying Shika senbei at a senbei stand. If you are slow unwrapping the senbei, an impatient deer will give you a light head-butt.

You can feed every deer by stepping backward slowly as holding out senbei one by one. As the senbei's wrapping paper is also edible, you can feed it to deer.

Once you finish giving out all the senbei, open your hands to show that you have no more senbei.

As deer can smell out any piece of senbei left in your bag, you have to give them all.

The Shika-senbei Throwing Tournament has been held since 1993 on Spring Equinox Day when Mt. Wakakusa opens for its spring climbing season. The admission fee is JPY 300.
In the Tournament, mega-size senbei are used, and there are specific rules, such as; 'if a deer eats the senbei a player threw, the distance to the front right leg of the deer will be measured for his or her record', or 'leave the senbei already measured on the field for deer to eat.'

As of 2008, the contest's official record is 59.0 meters which was set in 2008. There is also an unofficial record of 74.55 meters marked in the special tournament held during the summer vacation in August 2008.

As an annual event, Shikanosuke WAKAKUSA holds a live concert.

Theme song : the Shika senbei Twist

[Original Japanese]