There are many different animals living in each country or region of the world. Some of those animals include many very dangerous species that can be harmful to humans. They can come into our daily living environment rather commonly, so we need to be careful of them, right? If you are visiting from outside the country or region, you need to be even more careful. As you know, Japan is an island nation. The entire country is part of a volcanic belt. Therefore, the plains and coastal areas where the cities are located are not very vast, and most of the mountainous and forested areas neighboring these areas have been affected by human hands in one way or another. So there is almost no wild land or virgin forest. This means that the living areas of wildlife and people are quite close to each other. When hearing such like that, you might think something like this… “Are there any dangerous wild animals in Japan?” Not so much, is it? It’s very important to know about that, we think so. Well, anyway, this time we would like to talk about the wildlife living in Japan. In particular, focusing attention to the dangerous animals.

As a matter of fact, in Japan, there are very few dangerous animals compared to other countries or regions of the world. Due in part to the above-mentioned geographical conditions, there are few large animals. Even though they are the same kind of animals, the species in Japan are all generally smaller than the kinds that live in other countries. This is a common trait among birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and shellfish. (In a few cases, the world’s largest species are Japanese creatures. For example, the giant salamander…) There are also few large carnivores of any kind. Only the bears. There are some poisonous animals, but they are relatively small and their toxicity is not very strong. Well, Japan is quite safe in this respect. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that there are animals that require no small amount of caution. The possibility of you encountering them is not so low. It would be helpful to have a little knowledge about the dangers of them.

・Bear (Risk Level: A+)
There are two species of bears living in Japan: “Higuma (brown bears)” and “Tsukinowaguma (black bears)”. To tell the truth, the number of cases of their appearing in people’s living areas has been increasing rapidly in the past few years. They even have appeared in urban and residential areas. Of course, the serious damages caused by them are also increasing… Hokkaido, Tohoku and Hokuriku regions are their main living areas.

・Wild Boar (Risk Level: about A?)
This animal is very common in human settlements bordering mountainous forest areas. Every year, there are many cases of rice paddies and fields being ravaged by them. Don’t you think such like “They’re herbivores, so they’re not that dangerous, right?” No, no. Please be careful. Wild boar is an omnivorous animal. They are very fierce. It’s no less dangerous than bears.

・Japanese macaque (Risk Level: A)
Also known as “Snow monkeys,” they are an endemic species of monkey in Japan. In Japan, they are found almost everywhere except for Okinawa. The species of monkeys that live in high latitude areas like Hokkaido are rare in the world. As with the wild boar, there are many cases of them appearing in human settlements near mountainous forest areas. They also cause a lot of damage to crops and other things. They are very wild in temperament, quite vicious and ridiculously brisk. It is strictly forbidden to be close to the wild ones.

・Rat (Risk Level: A!!)
The species of rats that live in the wilderness are nothing to worry about. What you should be alert for are the kinds of rats that live in urban areas. It is called “Dobu-Nezumi (Brown rat)”. (※The word “Dobu” means “Dirty ditch” in Japanese.) They are so big, some of them, some of them are as big as cats. As you can guess, they have very dangerous germs that can be quite dangerous if bitten or scratched. It’s not uncommon to encounter them in the downtown area, so be careful.

・Deer (Risk Level: about B?)
In Japan, people tend to think of deer as friendly and docile animals, probably because of the popular image of them living in famous tourist spots in Japan such as Nara and Miyajima. By the way, the deer in Nara / Miyajima are wild (They are designated as a natural monumental animal). Although the number of injuries inflicted on people is relatively small, when you actually encounter them, it will be just as dangerous as a wild boar. Even though they are herbivores, they are still big. It is very rare that they will aggressively attack you unless something goes wrong, but be careful. However, there is a lot of damage to farms and crops caused by them all over the country. In some areas, they have been targeted for official extermination as vermin. Depending on their habitat, the way we deal with them is extremely different.

・Snake (Risk Level: about B, probably)
The well-known venomous snakes living in Japan will be “Mamushi (pit vipers)” and “Habu”. “Yamakagashi” is also well-known. There are a few other species that live in the Amami / Okinawa area. The number of encounters is not few, and the number of damages is many, but there are very few serious injuries or deaths. They are still smaller and less harmful than the ones found in other countries. Also, Japan has a strong medical system for serum treatment against species living in the country. However, you should not be careless.

・Tortoise (Risk Level: about B)
A species of turtle called the snapping turtle is very dangerous. In Japan, the well-known dangerous turtles are the “Suppon” and “Alligator turtle”. By the way, the latter are not native to Japan, but are all foreign species… orz They were kept in zoos, research facilities, and homes, but they’ve gone wild. As a result, there is a great increase… Because there are no other creatures in Japan that can attack them, and they eat everything and live a long life. If you get bitten, you cannot avoid serious injury.

・Jellyfish (Risk Level: B)
The number of injuries caused by them is quite large. Some species are much more dangerous than venomous snakes. Be very careful when approaching the ocean. Sometimes there are jellyfish washed up on the beach, but don’t touch them either! You will usually get stung… *( ̄▽ ̄;)* “I” was in so much pain. Even if the jellyfish itself is dead, the poisonous stingers are still in effect. Don’t forget, right?

・Raccoon (Risk Level: Probably, about B?)
It is a different species from the so-called “Tanuki (racoon dog)”. It’s that animal that loves to wash everything in water, right? The raccoons in Japan are non-native species that became wild and bred. Due to the popularity of a certain anime, it may not have a very dangerous image, but… it’s wrong. If you approach them without care, you will be in trouble. They are very vicious. In some areas, they are even targeted for official extermination as vermin. Be careful!!

・Crow (Risk Level: C (Depends on your point of view, A+ or higher…))
They are so smart that it would be very bad if you messed with them and they recognized you as an enemy. They can attack in flocks and are very persistent. Japanese crows are quite a large species and can be quite dangerous. However, they are pretty cute. While they are very cautious, they also have a friendly temperament, so please be careful of those who are unusually friendly. Maybe the crow’s trying to play some kind of trick on you. As a side note, crows seem to relax their guard a bit if you imitate the same caw back to them. It seems to make it less likely that they will recognize you as an enemy. Well… But we can’t tell you to try that actually.

Many of Japan’s native species are generally small in size. There are not very strong species. Therefore, when an invasive species enters their living area, it has a huge bad influence on them. In recent years, this has become quite a serious problem. Even if humans are involved in the cause, there is the thought that the decline of native species due to the increase of foreign species is part of the natural order. But… We must continue to coexist with both native and non-native species. Just because there are various kinds of harmful effects, it does not mean that we should exterminate them. On the other hand, we can’t go to the extreme of following the thoughts of nature protection and animal welfare and turn a blind eye to all the damage. We guess we’ll just have to keep on trying to find the best way…

It is very interesting to focus attention what kind of cares / measures they need to take against what kind of creatures in daily life. Because you can see that it reflects the lifestyle and values of the country or region, don’t you think so?

Have you ever heard of a Japanese animal called “Mujina”? Some of you may know a famous yokai-tale “Mujina” in “Kaidan (Japanese ghost story)” by Yakumo Koizumi (Patrick Lafcadio Hearn), which is an English translation of a Japanese ghost story. According to folk tales and other records, the word “Mujina” was recorded as early as the 7th century. It was also widely known as an animal that could “bewitch” or “trick” people, like a fox or a raccoon dog. Nowadays, even many of the Japanese don’t know what kind of animal it is, despite the fact that its name and existence are well known…

OK. Now, let us explain about “Mujina”. To tell the truth, “Mujina” is a kind of generic name for a variety of animals that have lived in Japan for a long time. These animals include raccoon dogs, badgers, and civets (some say even marten, weasels, and raccoons). It also made complicated by the fact that it may have included civets and raccoons, which are considered alien species. The animal lives in the wild, usually walking on all fours, and is apparently omnivorous… It’s a different animal from bears, mountain dogs, wolves or foxes… Oh, raccoon dogs are pretty alike? Hmm? Is it the same as a raccoon…? No, it’s different… Apparently, people perceived “Mujina” as such animals. There are many different names for animals in different dialects. For such reasons, it is considered that it has become even more difficult to know which animal is being referred to. This inability to identify the animal has led to some famous court cases related to hunting laws… It wasn’t until the modern era that the Japanese realized that for many years we had been referring to multiple species of animals collectively as “Mujina”.

We hope you enjoyed this topic. In many ways, “Mujina” is one of the most fascinating “Japanese animals”.