I was talking to an acquaintance of mine, the man who develops my photos. He’s very nice and I’ve known him since the first week I arrived in Fukushima City back in April of 2006. We were discussing Hanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing) sites. I said I’d been to Hanamiyama and I’d been to Shinobuyama. He said, “How about Bentenyama?” I knew that Bentenyama was just a short bike ride (about twenty minutes) from my home, so I thought, Yes. How about Bentenyama?
That’s Bentenyama in the distance in the above photo. It’s a hill in the south part of Fukushima City.
“Yama” means mountain. But Bentenyama is really more of a big hill. Although in Kansas, it would be considered a mountain. I guess it depends on your point of view.
I was alone. I goaded a passerby into taking this photo. The place I am standing is actually on the left side of the map (NOT the part my finger is at.) My goal was to do the roughly thirty-minute climb up to an area with a shrine.
Fukushima City–My home is in that direction.
Pointing my camera over to the east.
At peak flower season, both Hanamiyama and Shinobuyama are very crowded, whereas Bentenyama was definitely not. In fact, I was the only human on the mountain. (Notice I said human.)
It was fun taking photos. It was so quiet. I wasn’t making noise at all.
Early April in Fukushima City! (These photos date from April 8th.)
I was being a little too quiet…….because—–
….as I walked up the stairs, I heard a sound to my left! I looked and it was an animal!
My first thought was “It’s a donkey!” But then I thought, “There aren’t donkeys here. Maybe it’s a dog (No) or a wolf (No) or a wild boar (No.)”
Wild boars can attack humans, so after I snapped the photo above, I stopped climbing the mountain. I went down, lest I be eaten by a boar or a bear. I had NO idea there were wild animals (big wild animals) on Bentenyama! It’s a hill in the city. Not exactly the true wilderness.
After I reached the bottom of the mountain, I continued home. I saw a man standing in his yard, so I asked him, “Are there wild animals on Bentenyama?” He said No. So then I showed him the photo above on my camera. He said the animal was a kamoshika.
Here’s the deal. Nobody thinks that there are kamoshika on Bentenyama. But this photo is proof.
I myself didn’t really know what a kamoshika was, but when I googled it, I saw that it was indeed the same animal that I had seen with my own eyes, and that it had the same familiar lope. In English, a kamoshika is called Japanese Serow. It’s only in Asia. I think mostly in Japan, and maybe Taiwan?
The following video is a random video I found on youtube:
So there it is. It was running away from me (having heard me approaching.) I’m pretty excited because I can add it to the list of authentic Japanese animals I’ve seen in the wild: monkey, hakkubishin (civet), kamoshika (serrow)
I have not seen: tanuki, wild boar, bear, crane and so on. (I doubt I will ever see a crane as it migrates only to very specific areas, neither near where I live.) If you see a white bird in Japanese, it is likely either a heron or swan. I’ve seen both herons and swans quite often.