The shika found in Nara are sika deer, a relative of the elk. They're considerably smaller, though, and are even a bit smaller than white-tailed deer. The shika we saw were in various stages of shedding their winter coats, and most of the bucks had bulbous, velvet-covered antlers.
Scattered throughout Todai-ji and the park area were vendors selling shika senbai, or deer crackers. The shika will bow their heads when presented with food... then gobble it up!
Ever since we heard about this study abroad course, I was hoping that seeing the deer at Nara would be part of the itinerary. Yesterday was quite amazing, and having the chance to feed, pet, and be harassed by the sacred shika was definitely one of the highlights of the day. Enough commentary from me, though, and here are just a few parting shots of these lovely animals: