There is a strange thing going on in Japan. You might expect it in America. You see, America’s history is steeped in gun culture.
When our country was founded, the 2nd amendment was paramount to the Bill of Rights. And so everyone has the right, whether they choose to exercise it, to wield weapons. But in Japan, gun culture is far less invasive. And the culture in Japan does not give women as many rights in the first place.
But necessity breeds ingenuity. And from the way the aging population of Japan is going, they need all the help they can get. Reuters reports:
Chiaki Kodama blows her deer whistle and soon a male deer wanders into sight. She slowly takes aim and squeezes the trigger.
Moments later, Kodama and a friend on her first hunt are tracking the wounded animal through the forest.
“Look for the trail of blood,” advised Kodama as they set off on a mountainside in Japan’s Fukui prefecture.
The 28-year-old hairdresser and city councillor is among a small but growing number of Japanese women entering the male-dominated world of hunting, where it was once taboo for men to even speak to a woman before going on a hunt.
As the hunting fraternity shrinks due to age and rural depopulation, women are recruited to help protect farms against rising numbers of wild deer and boar viewed as pests by farmers.
Farmer Manabu Ushiyachi said he welcomed any hunter, male or female, to help fend off the wild boar that feast on vegetable crops.
“There are farms that have been completely devastated,” he said, adding that attempts to trap the animals had failed.
Japanese farmers have lost up to 23 billion yen ($170 million) annually since 2008 because of rising numbers of deer, boar, monkeys and birds, the Ministry of Agriculture said last month.
“We’ve tried methods such as building fences or chasing animals away to minimise their deaths, but it wasn’t enough,” said Kazuhiro Akiba, head of the ministry’s Wildlife Management Office in Tokyo.
Since the late 1990s, the number of deer in Japan has jumped from less than 400,000 to more than 3 million, according to the Ministry of Environment. The boar population doubled to 1 million over the same period.
Akiba said hunting was necessary to “keep the numbers under control to maintain a healthy ecosystem”.
Of Japan’s 105,000 registered hunters, two-thirds are 60 or older, and only 1,169 are female, according to the National Hunting Association, which counted 500,000 hunters in the 1970s.
Hunting groups and local governments are trying to recruit women through social media, as well as offering hunting tours and classroom training.
In some prefectures, women can sign up for hunting courses or join a hunting tour. Others, like Kodama, provide on-the-hunt training.
After shooting the deer, Kodama and her 28-year-old friend, Aoi Fukuno, followed the blood trail and found the dead animal lying on a fallen tree. Kodama then showed Aoi how to gut the deer and lay it in a river to drain the blood.
“It’s exciting to finally see with my own eyes what I read in textbooks to get my license,” said Aoi.
Japan is being dragged into the 21st century whether they like it or not. An aging population, alongside a generation that has experienced economic stagnation demands changes be made.
And Japanese women are experiencing what many American women have enjoyed for decades, if not centuries, and that is the joy of the hunt.
Certainly, in a culture steeped in ninjas and samurai warriors, some tradition such as swords no longer apply. But for others such as moving softly and stalking their prey, the Japanes women will excel. Be on the lookout for ingenious products coming from Japan, a civilization marked by silent and deadly hunters.
What do you think of Japan’s unleashing of female hunters. Let us know in the comments below.