Sunday, October 18, 2009

bears and bells

IMG_6093, originally uploaded by taintus.

There has been a lot of talk about bears in the village recently. I've heard that there is an overabundance of chestnuts and acorns in the Kiso area this year (though I've heard conflicting reports of low volume), which means more bears.

Regardless of this particular factor, many people in Otaki suggest that bear-human encounters are increasing. There may be many causes, but a general ecological shift is likely the main culprit. Wartime over-cutting in backcountry areas, followed by heavy planting of timber trees has limited nutrient rich habitat for many animals, including bears. Forests around many villages, which tend to be locally managed for mulitple uses, on the other hand are often comprised of diverse trees, including a variety of fruit-bearing broadleaf varieties (including chestnut and acorn trees). So, guess where the bears are going for food?
We've had several bear sightings in Otaki recently. To the point where all elementary and junior high students have been issued bear bells, called "kuma-yoke-suzu" くまよけ鈴 (bear repelling bells). My bell isn't a bear bell per se, but rather a bell used in Buddhist practice. . .my friend picked it up while hiking Ontake-san. It's got a nice ring to it (I've received compliments).

I took the above picture of acorns on the road one morning last week. Seems to me there are more acorns than I remember there being last year. So, for now the students and I clang clang clang our way to school--at least until the winter.


Ojisanjake said...

Just downloaded "village values"... looks to be a good read. Thanks. Pleased to note that you included the shrine mergers in the timeline.

Taintus said...

Thanks for the comment Ojisanjake.

I'd almost forgotten I have a blog!!
In the middle of some writing, so haven't been too present in the online world for the last couple of months. Off to Philadelphia for American Anthropological Association meeting and then hope to get to some blogging.

Enjoy the paper. It's good for when you can't sleep.