Wild pigs

Kerosene lamp

Kerosene lamp

Inoshishi.

I bought a used, almost new Toyota Corrola station wagon some years ago to commute to my ceramic teachers house during my apprenticeship. It was a 2 hour commute one way, which is to say it was about 50 kilometers distant , mostly along Japans crowded roads. The last part was a steep climb to a mountain village where my teacher lived. The first time I went there I remember wondering how in the world anyone would ever find what ever it was that I would find at the end of the seemingly endlessly winding narrow road. On one side is a mountain that shoots straight up, on the other a sheer drop down ranging from tens to hundreds of meters. On the first trip after buying the car I was heading down back to my house. Half way down, going roughly 60 km/hr I noticed a wild pig, inoshishi, running in a basically falling fashion down the mountain heading for the road ahead of me. Oh, neat, now I get to see a live one instead of the skins of them you see at a lot of the houses along the road. Inoshishi meat goes for a nice price, ten thousand dollars for a large, truly wild pig, but I suspect that was the price during the economic bubble. As the pig hit the road, recovered his feet after smashing to the road from his running fall I watched it cross the narrow road and head back into the ether. Just in time to see his running partner fall into view about 5 meters in front of my now 50 km/hr traveling car. It also hit the road, recovered his feet just in time to scramble directly in front of my now braking car. I do remember the following sequence. Car hits pig, pig gets its feet taken out, rolls over onto back, is pushed forward by my lowered front end of the car since I am braking so hard, me thinking I don’t want this 200 kg. pack of muscle getting under my car and causing me to lose control all the while marveling at its face which was clearly visible above the hood line looking back in my general direction, my car slowing enough to let inertia carry the pig a few meters before it stopped. It then rolled over and without missing a nano second to catch its breath jumped up, circled around and rammed the door on my side with its head, which is to say rammed the door right next to me. It then headed off down the mountain to find its friend or so I supposed.

Needless to say I didn’t jump out and check damage. When I stauntered into my teachers house the next day casually mentioning I had run into a pig I got the usual Japanese lesson on the correct verb to use in the case of hitting something with your car. My wife’s concerns, once it was obvious I was OK, evidenced by the fact I was home, were just as practical. Did I realize how valuable they were?? I guess I shouldn’t have braked?

Wild pigs will lay a rice field to waste in the matter of a couple of hours. Around my house there are many ways to keep them at bay. Some of the more inventive methods are to go the local barbershop and get hair cuttings. These are then sprinkled around the perimeter of the field since the pigs don’t like the smell of humans. Corrugated roofing and netting fences are widely employed. Their size would suggest a much stronger barrier is required but actually they will not cross even a one meter tall netting fence. CO2 machines that make a big bang, kerosene lamps that burn all night, and one of my favorites, a tractor left running all night on the side of the field. This year electric fences are all the rage.

I have seen one field laid to waste by innoshishi. It looked more like it was a poorly planted field of weeds. With the expensive cultivation methods that go into a crop it is no wonder the Japanese farmers don’t brake.

Kerosene lamp

Kerosene lamp

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