Hunting culture in Haruno

Deep in the Heart of Hamamatsu in a small country town surrounded by mountains, forests and rivers hunting is an important way of life. It is a skill passed down through generations and is helping to save the local Eco-system.

Japan has a rich history of hunting dating back to the Jomon period (~1000BC), and the area around the small town of Haruno is one of the few places in Japan that preserves that hunting tradition.

Nestled in the hills of Hamamatsu in Western Shizuoka – following the Tenryu River it doesn’t take long for the urban sprawl of Shizuoka’s largest city to give way to step densely forested hills, green tea plantations and clear flowing rivers.

Haruno is similar to many small towns in Japan – an area made up of many small and tight-knit communities steeped in a tradition of looking out for one another and fiercely proud of where they are from. However, as with other small rural areas in Japan, Haruno is struggling with an aging population and scarcity of work to keep people in the area.

To combat this issue the local authorities have started to look at some creative solutions – attracting more foreign visitors to the area to experience life in the Japanese countryside and and also selling and marketing both Deer and Wild Boar meat.

Due to lack of natural predators, in recent years the deer and wild boar populations have boomed all across Japan. The overpopulation causes damage to forests and agricultural lands, and the national and local governments have recognized the need for hunters to act as human predators to control wild animal populations and have started promoting an initiative to market and sell both Deer and Wild Boar meat.

However, hunting and gun licenses in Japan are difficult and expensive to acquire and the population of hunters is dwindling and aging rapidly. That is why the community in Haruno is working to promote the preservation of Japan’s traditional hunting knowledge and educate the general public about how hunting can be eco-conscious and environmentally friendly.

At Haruno Yama no Mura, a non-profit organization and outdoor education facility in Haruno, the view is that hunting is part of the preservation of the wilderness. Hunting connects humans intimately with their natural environment.

A hunter must be knowledgeable of the mountains and wildlife and hold nature in reverence. To give proper respect to the animals hunted and recognize the sacrifice of an animal’s life, the traditional philosophy is that from horns to internal organs, no animal part should be wasted.

Haruno Yama no Mura established a Gibier Kobo (literally “game meat factory”) to promote consumption of game meat, which is not yet common in Japan, so that meat from wild boar and deer killed in government sanctioned culls will not be wasted. At Haruno Yama no Mura you can try game meat barbecue and learn about the local mountains from those who know it best.

Gibier Kobo products are available for purchase at JA farmers markets in Hamamatsu and game meat is featured as a local speciality at a number of restaurants in Hamamatsu.

Haruno Yama no Mura Website (Japanese only): Yamano Mura

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