Dokodemo Door!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Saw my first inoshishi

I was walking back to my apartment tonight. I found a Korean bar not too far from where I live, and I'm always keen on practicing my (very poor) Korean.

It was there that I loaded myself with beer and soju while getting to know the owner. He closed early, around 1030, and I headed-out home into the chilly night.

The city I'm in, Kobe, is densely crammed in between the mountains and the sea. If you look to the north, you see low mountains which are literally four blocks away. If you look to the south, and you see the tops of cranes in the harbor. The whole city is laterally hemmed-in like that. (I'll be posting pictures at some point, I promise.)

In this area, there are multiple streams heading from north to south draining into the sea. And the one thing you need to know about the landscape here in Japan: every stream is paved. (I'm being literal. Even in very rural prefectures like Nagano, Gifu and Shiga, every rivulet of naturally-occuring moisture has got some kind of cement around it.) This stream was no different. It was a concrete channel, maybe 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep with fences along each side, and a slow trickle of water flowing-down.

So I'm walking home and periodically glancing-down at the light glinting-off the water in the stream. But the light isn't glinting properly, as if something is casting a shadow upon it. I stopped, narrowed my eyes and took a closer look... To my surprise, poking-around at the bottom of the concrete channel, was an inoshishi.

It was a brown, hairy woodland boar. Maybe about 200 pounds' worth of grilled pork. It must've come-down from the hills.

I stopped and gawked, instantly whipped-out my cell-phone camera, but the light wasn't enough for a picture.

A passer-by, about college-age, happened by.

I blurted: "Wa! Inoshishi da!" (Wa! It's a wild boar!)

He peered down and replied in accented English. "Eh, it's normal."

"Normal for you." I replied tersely.

Anyway, it was an unexpected spectacle. I hear they can be dangerous when cornered.

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