Thursday, June 08, 2006

Neglect and decay, part 3: No-hunting sign.

"We Japanese love peace."

That's what I heard from someone one time when I asked them why Japanese people don't own guns.

That may be the ultimate reason, to be sure. However, a more pragmatic reason is the fact that Japan has some very strict gun laws. Handguns are illegal here unless you're a police officer or in the military. And rifles and shotguns are also very strictly regulated.

To say nothing of nearly impossible to find.

But an even simpler explanation for why most Japnese people don't own guns is that they have no use for them. Crime rates here are among the lowest in the world. And hunting is something most Japanese don't partake in.

In fact, I don't think I've ever met a single person in Japan who hunts. And even if I did, the only wildlife you'd see around here are tanuki (racoon dogs). What's more, most of the ones you would manage to see are nothing but red and brown splotches on the highway. Victims of urban traffic, not rural hunters.

A shot of the patch of grass with the no-hunting sign

Besides, as you can see here, Japan is pretty urbanized. It's been noted in many books, as well as newspaper and magazine articles, that very little land in Japan is unblemished by concrete and steel to some degree. Even if you wanted to hunt, there's really not that many places to do it.

I took the picture above from a spot along a very busy highway that runs in front of my apartment. By day, it's packed with commuters going to and from work (or off to holiday spots on weekends). By night, giant freight trucks rumble by, loaded so heavily that they shake the very ground like an earthquake.

No-hunting sign in the grass

Move in a little closer on that grassy patch, however, and you can see what has to be, in my opinion, one of the most unnecessary warnings anywhere: A no-hunting sign. Barely visible thanks to the weeds choking it off from view, the rust has rendered part of the writing almost unreadable.

Rusted no-hunting sign

Look closer and you can finally read it clearly. Whoever wrote the English portion of the sign also spelled "Ibaraki" wrong. Even a foreigner like myself wouldn't make that mistake.

This is not the only sign I've seen either. In the six years I've lived here, I've probably come across about a dozen of these. And all of them were in rather urbanized areas where there's nothing to kill.

So seeing these signs only leaves me with one burning question: is there a mad rash of illegal gun-hunting going on that I'm not aware of?


At 12:37 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic series; I'm enjoying your fotos!

Abe (

At 5:11 a.m., Blogger micki said...

This was so interesting to see this side of Japan.


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