Woman versus Inoshishi

Japan has all sorts of cute and cuddly wildlife. There’s the mukade, a giant centipede with a poisonous bite. This creature is dreaded in the summertime, when they consider apartments a great place to live (except mine thus far). If that isn’t kind enough, you can consider the giant hornet. As the saying goes – two stings = death (thankfully these things live far, far up in the mountains – although Kyle and I did encounter two on a hike near Hiroshima once. They’re the size of a freaken small bird). If insects aren’t your thing, there’s a wonderful variety of snakes. I get that nearly every country has snakes, but I come from one of the three without. Heck, I was 25 the first time I ever saw one. Unless you count a road kill one in Germany. Even then I was 23.

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Exhibit A, from wikipedia

These are Japan’s typical “scary creatures”. None have bothered me, however. Instead I seem to get bothered by the not-so-dreaded inoshishi. The inoshishi is a wild boar. It lives in the mountains. I live by the mountains, as did Kyle when he lived here. See the problem? I had been promised that the inoshishi never bothers people. Lied to would be a better way of describing it. Betrayed even.

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Terrifying, right?

My first run in with an inoshishi was on my way to Kyle’s one lunchtime. I was bringing McDonalds with me, as part of a balanced diet. It smelt good. Apparently the baby inoshishi, that I hadn’t noticed in the car park below, thought so too. So I was chased by a baby inoshishi for a while. Turns out I can out run little, baby inoshishi. And by little I mean bigger than my Labrador. I’m not sure if running is what you’re actually meant to do when chased, but it I seemed like a good idea at the time.

My next run in went a little differently. I was heading home from Kyle’s one Sunday evening. I got to the same car park, when suddenly a massively giant, huge inoshishi of doom started to chase me and try and steal my stuff. Thinking of my own personal safety, I did the only logical thing I could think of. I dropped the plastic bag I was carrying and slowly walked backward. It was more of a reflex action really, and turned out to be a bad one. See, it turns out I had all of my lesson plans for work the next week in that bag. They were all together in a blue folder. The inoshishi took an exploratory bite out of it, and decided it wasn’t worth pursuing. Instead it chose another item in the bag. My wallet. I had transferred my wallet to the bag for easy access when I needed to go through the ticket gate for the train. This also made it easy access for the inoshishi.

So there was me, a giant, snorting fire-breathing inoshishi, and my wallet. The inoshishi seemed quite proud of its new wallet. And very defensive. I was stuck. After a couple of minutes of cautious stand off between myself and the thieving inoshishi, ihe seemed to get bored, and wander off. I started to inch my way toward my wallet. The inoshishi wasn’t about to let that happen. It was his wallet now. So I called Kyle, who lived ten minutes away and had just fallen asleep. He was delighted at the prospect of getting up, dressed and walking down the mountain to rescue me from wild inoshishi. He made this clear.

So it was me, and the inoshishi. Our territories invisibly defined. We both stood our ground, defending what we believed to be rightfully ours. The wallet.

Eventually a salaryman came out of the station and started walking down the other side of the street. The inoshishi saw him. He didn’t have a crummy plastic bag, he had a briefcase!this was too much for the inoshishi to bear. He left my wallet (which I swiftly collected) and started chasing this heroic, unintentional stranger. The inoshishi pursued this man for a minute or so, until the man suddenly became brave, turned, and chased the inoshishi back. The startled inoshishi ran around in swift circles for a bit, then ran up the mountain, never to be seen. I gathered the rest of my stuff.

Then Kyle showed up.

After Kyle moved back home, I thought I was free of the inoshishi. But alas, I’m not. I currently attend a weekly appointment in a different area of town. Two weeks ago I was on my way, and looked down into the drain below me. There seemed to be two dogs. But they weren’t. I saw them last week too. Thankfully they had no way of getting up to me, and my wallet is safe.

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The famous drain inoshishi. My weekly tormenters.

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Posted on March 18, 2013, in Japan and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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