Beyond the Border

Yoko Ishii

2011 - 2014

Early in the morning, the Sika deer can be found walking in the street, not bound by man's boarders and laws, yet inhabiting a man-made city. It is fascinating and inspiring scene for me.

The Sika deer in Nara are considered a divine servant of the Kasuga shrine and are protected as a special national treasure. In Miyajima Island, as well as in Nara, the deer are iconic and draw crowds of tourists. However, in various other regions of Japan the deer’s feeding habits are damaging and are causing serious problems for farmers and the local governments. As such, the governments in these affected areas encourage the citizens to practice population management. Every year, more than 360,000 deer are killed in Japan.

Inside these arbitrary boundaries created by man, the deer are beloved and treated as if they were domesticated animals. Outside of these boundaries, they are killed as destructive animals and unknowingly go beyond the borders with a spring in their step. By taking photographs of the free Sika deer in Nara and in Miyajima, I dream that one day they will occupy an abandoned town.

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