Updating the Inoshishi situation.
Several friends have told us not to plant sweet potatoes, as they attract inoshishi, or wild boar, which roam the Okutama hills and are never far away. A neighbour’s crop was totally wiped out, the story goes, by inoshishi that descended on it just the night before a planned harvest.
We planted a few satsumaimo anyway, just out of optimism. We also discovered that nagaimo, the tubers you can eat fresh, have been established in our garden area, a legacy of previous tenants. So it was of concern in late August when a neighbour right on the edge of the forest, about 100 metres distant, reported that inoshishi had been rooting around under the big chestnut tree. They had also left a surprisingly large amount of faeces along the quiet bit of roadway there. Worried on several accounts, not least the safety of very elderly residents, she then asked the local government to do something about the problem. In a few days a team arrived with a trap. By this time I had personally observed a large sow and three or four strapping youngsters getting very near our patch.
The trap appears to be a veteran of many campaigns, and the men who installed it are obviously very experienced. They lowered the trap into place under the chestnut tree and then baited it using a maize fodder normally fed to cattle. It was my job to replenish the bait daily.
Data from a night camera attached to a nearby tree confirmed visits by a sow and five piglets. Almost two weeks later, with the youngsters routinely entering the cage, it was decided to spring the trap.
What followed was not pretty, but later that day we picked up a small share of the meat from the city office in Okutama. Inoshishi nabe that night. Very delicious!
Despite all this, just a couple of weeks later a wild pig (or two) came right into our garden and dug up a couple of nagaimo yams.
I have a new appreciation of animal intelligence. As long as we watched, this raccoon gave every impression of being quite at home and relaxed within the cage. As soon as we were out of sight it got to work trying to dig its way out or squeeze through one of the square holes. When I returned and caught it halfway out, it withdrew calmly and resumed an air of nonchalance within. Eventually it did crawl out and disappear. I wish the little animal well, but now it is chewing holes in my inoshishi net.
Mt. Mitake is famous for its important historic shrine, tourist facilities and an excellent network of hiking trails. It is also notoriously crowded on weekends. A weekday visit, however, is well worthwhile.