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Learning to Live With Nature Through Hunting

Hunters in Gujo, who play a crucial role in protecting farmland, are offering courses to share their hunting techniques and wisdom on coexisting with nature.



Hunter Tetsuya Matsukawa carries a wild boar caught in a snare trap in Gujo, Gifu Prefecture. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawaguchi)

In many hilly areas of Japan, where nature is abundant, farmers are plagued by crop damage caused by wild animals such as deer and monkeys. The aging of hunters responsible for eliminating vermin and the lack of successors is becoming a serious problem in these regions.

"I became a hunter because I wanted to protect my hometown, which was being devastated by damage caused by wild animals," shares Tetsuya Matsukawa, a hunter in Gujo, Gifu Prefecture. "I hope that preserving the beautiful landscape of satoyama [farmland near mountain foothills] will encourage many people to visit."

Even beneath thick foliage, hunter Tetsuya Matsukawa can easily identify where animals have been sleeping. He believes a wild boar had been resting here. Gujo, Gifu Prefecture. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawaguchi)

Hunting Courses in Gujo

Gujo is renowned as one of Japan's three major boar-hunting regions, with approximately 90 percent of its land covered by forests. As part of its initiative to promote public understanding of hunting, the city has been arranging lectures and tours for people to learn about the profession as well as hunting techniques.

Participants holding airsoft guns in Gujo, Gifu Prefecture. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawaguchi)

For example, course participants learn how to hold and aim a gun using airsoft guns. Martina, who has traveled from Tokyo to participate in the course, says, "Eating a deer we hunted on the same day was a very valuable experience. I think it is an important life skill to be able to obtain your own food." 

Turning Hunting Into a 'Sextiary Industry'

Organizing the tours is Inoshika-cho ("wild boar and deer agency"), a group of local hunters. "Wild animals are blessings from the mountains, so hunting is not just about capturing them," says Daisuke Yasuda, a member of Inoshika-cho. "We also encourage people to think about the conservation of satoyama and the coexistence of people and nature from the hunters' perspective."

Daisuke Yasuda explains the tools that hunters bring into the mountain. Gujo, Gifu Prefecture. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawaguchi)

Inoshika-cho has been seeking to professionalize hunting, aiming to expand its appeal to younger generations. The group also hopes to elevate the hunting profession to a "sextiary industry" that combines primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors. This means that hunters would also be involved in the processing and marketing of game meat. Through this, Inoshika-cho aspires to transform hunting into an attractive profession that can sustain a living.

Participants examine the texture of the tanned skin of a hunted animal. Gujo, Gifu Prefecture. (©Sankei by Ryosuke Kawaguchi)


(Read the article in Japanese.)

Author: Ryosuke Kawaguchi

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