Bear Warning!

One of the things that struck me when I first moved to Kyoto were the many butterflies out and about throughout summer. Sure, I lived in a fairly green part of the city then, but still, their number astonished me. Not to mention the size.

But besides the pretty things – and the nasty ones I have written about in detail, several times – there are also a few dangerous ones. Thankfully, Japan is blessed with a fairly benign fauna, unlike Australia where essentially everything has evolved to kill people.

In Japan, there is one species of poisonous snakes, and the local centipedes can become dangerous for small children. As far as I know, that’s all. Yet, Japan is a vast country with lots and lots of mountains, and there are all sorts of large animals hiding in them. Like bears.

And believe it or not, just a couple of weeks ago, a bear was sighted in the late afternoon not far from where I live. It didn’t come down into the inhabited parts here but stayed on a hiking path through the woods. Still, this is not an encounter I’d want to have, whether day or night. Let’s not forget that Kyoto is a city with 1.5 million inhabitants.

It is known, however, that in the northern parts of Honshu, bears regularly visit smaller towns and cities. They are active at dusk and dawn when there is not much traffic or noise, but they can become a nuisance, if not outright dangerous, to the population.

What to do about that, I don’t know. I’m not a big fan of shooting everything that moves just because, but there must be a better way than putting out neighborhood circulars that say “hey, we’ve seen a bear, be careful.” I wonder how other countries like Canada deal with something like that.

2 thoughts on “Bear Warning!”

  1. Making noise and bear spray. On some trails, you get bells that you ring when you pass them to scare of potential bears. Apparently in Hokkaido bears even make their way into Sapporo.

    And Japan actually has several venomous snakes, though the majority live in the sea. You are probably remembering the Mamushi, which is the most common. I have abandoned a walk once, when there was a warning sign and the path would have led me through large amounts of fallen leaves… I don’t think that would have ended well for me. 😅
    So far, I have only encountered the very common aodaisho (rat snake) but that’s already more snake than I prefer to see. 😨

    1. Well, since Kyoto is landlocked and I can’t swim, I think the chance that I will ever encounter poisonous sea snakes in Japan is pretty limited. 😉

      My friend told me about the Mamushi. I agree it’s best to avoid them where you can.

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