The Lost Wolves of Japan
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: University of Washington Press
Foreword: A Strange Violent Intimacy
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Wolves and other big predators have long loomed large in the history, literature, and folklore of human interactions with the natural world. Although there is wide variation from culture to culture in the ways these creatures are depicted, they rarely surface in our collective memory without standing in one way or another for the fierce autonomy of nature in resisting the...
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When it comes to our relationship with wolves, we have both come a long way and gone nowhere at all. While I was revising the manuscript of this book, a disturbing incident occurred near Bozeman that reminded me of this fact. In March 2004, wolves in the Madison Valley attacked several head of livestock. In one frightening episode, a rancher watched helplessly as...
A Note to the Reader
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As is customary with scholarly writing on Japan, Japanese names are given in the Japanese order, with the surnames preceding the given names—that is, unless written otherwise, as in the case of an author of an English-language scientific publication, for example. I have supplied the appropriate diacritical marks for Japanese words and names, except for common words...
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In central Japan in 1905, near Washikaguchi, a rural timber community nestled along the banks of the Takami River, a lone American traveler checked into the Hogetsuro Inn. Malcolm Anderson had come to Japan under the auspices of an English zoologist, the Duke of Bedford, to collect exotic animal specimens from East Asia for the London Zoological Society and the...
1. Science and the Creation of the Japanese Wolf
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On a warm, Rocky Mountain morning, while in my office preparing to teach a summer class, I received a letter from Inoue Katsuo, one of my teachers and a professor of Japanese history at Hokkaido University in Sapporo. I put down my lecture notes and eagerly ripped opened the envelope. Along with several prominent articles Inoue had recently published, I discovered...
2. Culture and the Creation of Japan's Sacred Wolves
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Deep in the mountains of Saitama Prefecture, some three hours or more by train west of Tokyo, a heavy backpack and lingering traces of winter snow made the two-hour hike up to Mitsumine Shrine from the small village of Owa an extremely strenuous one. Less a village than a thin ribbon of roadside residences, Owa appeared to be populated mostly by antiquated...
3. The Conflicts between Wolf Hunters and Rabid Man-Killers in Early Modern Japan
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Shiga Naoya wrote some of Japan's most celebrated modern fiction during his long and productive life, and "Takibi" (Night fires; 1920) ranks among his finest. Filled with lucid descriptions of colorful sunsets, rainbows that stretch between towering mountain peaks, crisp reflections on calm alpine lakes, and the lapping flames of bonfires that illuminate coal-black...
4. Meiji Modernization, Scientific Agriculture, and Destroying the Hokkaido Wolf
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The Meiji Restoration of 1868 ranks among the most important events in Japanese history. After over two and a half centuries of samurai rule, the Tokugawa shogunate fell to what historians call the Satchō alliance—essentially, a political and military alliance between Satsuma, Chōshū, and a handful of other disgruntled feudal domains—and, in the course...
5. Wolf Bounties and the Ecologies of Progress
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By the late nineteenth century, the Ashio copper mine, located on the upper reaches of the Watarase River north of Tokyo, had stepped up production after a series of technological advances and became Japan's leading producer of copper. Shortly thereafter, the river turned a "bluish white" color and began killing crops located downstream; rotting fish floated belly up...
6. Wolf Extinction Theories and the Birth of Japan's Discipline of Ecology
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Today, the word "ecology" refers to the study of the interaction between a living thing (or things) and its environment, but such was not always the case. In 1902, illustrating this point, a debate broke out in the editorial pages of the journal Science on the origin and the meaning of the word "ecology." Those scientists who participated in the debate agreed that the...
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During the return flight from my research trip to Japan, as I settled in my seat and buckled up, I spied a SkyMall shopping catalog tucked in the pocket in front of me. Inside, among the electric cat-litter boxes and other senseless merchandise this airline shamelessly peddles to its clients, I found an advertisement for Sony's new robotic dog, named Aibo. Reading the short...
Appendix: Wolves and Bears Killed and Bounties Paid by Administrative Region, 1877-1881
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Publication Year: 2005