Hunting in Haruno
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.
In the hills of Hamamatsu in Western Shizuoka – following the Tenryu River – Haruno is similar to many small towns in Japan. It’s 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.
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.
They have recently started to promote an initiative for local communities 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 educating the general public about how hunting can be eco-conscious and environmentally friendly.
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.
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 so that meat from wild boar and deer killed in government sanctioned culls will not be wasted. Here, 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.
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