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Nara photographer's video of deer among pink sakura flowers a heavenly hit online

In this still image taken from a YouTube video, deer are seen indulging in a beautiful sakura-covered grove, in footage originally taken by Kazuki Ikeda.

NARA -- A video taken by a local photographer that shows deer at the famed Nara Park here enjoying the cherry blossom season has become a hit on Twitter and YouTube, with over 180,000 views on the video-sharing platform, and has gained the attention of foreign media outlets.

    It was shot by Kazuki Ikeda, 57, a cameraman with Kiki Photoworks, a photography business in the prefectural town of Ando that specializes in weddings and other occasions. Reflecting on the success of his video, Ikeda said, "I'd be very happy if people all over the world could learn about the beautiful scenery here at Nara Park."

    The video was shot on April 8, after Ikeda had finished taking photos of a couple ahead of their wedding ceremony. It was then that he spotted a herd of deer relaxing over a field of flowers stretching out like a great pink rug, and he filmed them with his phone. Within the day he'd uploaded it to Twitter, but he said that initially there wasn't much of a reaction.

    Then on May 11, he found out through an article in the Nara edition of the Mainichi Shimbun that images and videos that give people a sense of what it's like to go sightseeing in Nara were being spread on social media with a hashtag that translates to "Travel Nara from home."

    He decided to try it out, and tweeted the video again with the hashtag included. The reaction was huge. By Aug. 1 he had around 39,000 retweets and 94,000 likes, and had received comments such as, "I never thought there was a place that really fits the words 'Peach Blossom Spring (a fairy land),'" and, "Is this paradise?"

    He also had requests from people to be able to watch it on a bigger screen, so on May 18 he uploaded the video to the Kiki Photoworks' YouTube channel. Many newspaper companies and other firms in the U.S., Spain and elsewhere then got in touch asking if they could use the video to show their readers Japan's beautiful natural sights.

    Ikeda said, "I'm shocked by the level of response this has had. The place where I shot it is a secret, but even so I hope everyone can walk in the park next spring and find deer enjoying the views of the flowers."

    (Japanese original by Yusuke Kato, Nara Bureau)

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