Tours are canceled. Restaurants are empty. And centuries-old temples are quieter than usual in the ancient capital city of Japan, hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

All of Nara is suffering with its UNESCO World Heritage Site listed temples shuttered as Japan fights the virus.

All except the deer. The daily life of the town's 'treasured animal remains virtually unchanged.

While most deer stay within the boundaries of their grassy park, some wander off to gift shops and restaurants across the street from the park. The deer have the right of way, and drivers honor it.

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The deer are used to being fed by tourists, who are now barred from visiting. Photo / Jae C Hong
The deer are used to being fed by tourists, who are now barred from visiting. Photo / Jae C Hong

Fewer tourists only means a bit more competition for the sugar-free treats or "deer crackers," which are mostly made of wheat flour.

A stack of crackers runs out fast when a dozen deer swarm around a generous feeder, nodding their heads as if they are giving a Japanese-style bow.

When done feeding, simply hold up your empty hands toward the deer. They will magically disperse.

Nara's temples may be shuttered by the pandemic, but deer are far harder to 'lock down'. Photo / AP, Jae C Hong
Nara's temples may be shuttered by the pandemic, but deer are far harder to 'lock down'. Photo / AP, Jae C Hong
Sento-kun, Nara's horned mascot is the city's deer deity. Photo / Jae C Hong
Sento-kun, Nara's horned mascot is the city's deer deity. Photo / Jae C Hong
Nara's Unesco temples are closed during the Coronavirus pandemic. Photo / Jae C Hong
Nara's Unesco temples are closed during the Coronavirus pandemic. Photo / Jae C Hong
Lockdown has meant the deer are no longet the centre of attention. Photo / Jae C Hong
Lockdown has meant the deer are no longet the centre of attention. Photo / Jae C Hong
Sacred deer view postcards as Nara sufferes a tourist downturn. Photo / Jae C Hong
Sacred deer view postcards as Nara sufferes a tourist downturn. Photo / Jae C Hong
Shoping centres have become the a place for wildlife in Nara. Photo / Jae C Hong
Shoping centres have become the a place for wildlife in Nara. Photo / Jae C Hong