January 19, 2006

マタギと金太郎、秋田犬:Hunting in Japan

On the web I linked to from the posting on Jan. 9, I found a picture of Japanese man holding a rifle.(left) The writer, Justin Hall, seemed to be a little confused. Why in Japan?

Sure, Japan is a gun-free nation, and carrying and dealing pistols are strictly banned. But sport hunting is OK, although areas, seasons and targets are limited. All you need is the license issued by the local governor. With the license, you can buy a rifle.

So, is he Yakuza? No. Neither is he a sport hunter of the upper classes, considering its location. He's gotta be one of the Matagi-like hobbiests who go hunting when season comes.


When I was little, my father used to take me to their gatherings. Their main target was a bear. Endangered species such as Japanese Serow (Kamoshika), Tsukinowaguma bear and Nihon-zaru monkey were to be avoided. In the after-game party, they cook fresh meat, sharing sake and mountain tales.

Strangely enough, the one who hit a bear was always Kintaro. Do you know Kintaro? Kintaro is a legendary hero who was raised deep in mountains playing with animals. He was believed to be strong enough to throw down a bear. The children's song goes "Kintaro in Ashigara mountain, sumo-wrestling with bears..." (full story)

So, everybody in Japan knows Kintaro can throw a bear. What they don't know is that OUR Kintaro was capable of hunting bears.

Kintaro's legend goes back a thousand years.

"Why him?," I used to ask them.
"Who knows. When it comes to bears, it's always Kintaro. Every year." they laughed out loud.

About 5 years ago when I spent a week there, all my neighbors were telling me about a Judo coach who threw down a bear he encountered on a backstreet in my hometown. The story was featured on local Sakigake news with big headlines. My parents scrapped it for me, so I'm quite positive it really happened.

BTW, Matagi is the traditional hunters who used live in Akita and its sorrounding areas. The Matagi's hunting dogs were the Akita's ancestors. You can read two most famous Akita legends; Loyal Hachiko and Shiro on this website(stories at the bottom). Hachiko stories are available in print as well.

(Ages 9-12)      (Ages 4-8)

While looking for related web, I found the following...
Crow Busters - Beginner Article - Crow Hunting In Japan


今月9日のブログでリンクしたサイトを見ていたらライフルを持った日 本人の接写があった。ライターのジャスティン・ホール君はこれを見て、とっても困惑している。そりゃそうだろう。日本と言ったら銃禁 止国。ヤクザにも見えないし・・・というわけで、ここでは猟の話を少々紹介してみた。



Crow Busters - Beginner Article - Crow Hunting In Japan



Lee Love said...

Greetings. I live in Mashiko, Tochigi-ken. Several of my neighbors, just ordinary people, are hunters. On my walks with my Akita dog Kintaro, I often see shotgun shells on the paths and along the river. I am guessing, most shooting at ducks.

You can see some photos from my walks here:


satomi said...

Hi, lee love -san. Yeah, that's gotta be duck shooting.

>my Akita dog Kintaro
No wonder you came across:) On top of that, your
Kintaro looks just like Hachiko! Thanks for stopping by and good luck!

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