Kuma (japan bear) - くま
Japan is home to around 30,000 bears of two different species: One is the hi-guma (brown bear), which lives north of Honshu and Hokkaido. The other, the tsukinowa-guma (Asian black bear), occupies areas of Honshu, and Shikoku.
Black bears live in mountainous areas and hibernate most of the winter. They are excellent climbers and often build nests in trees or on steep slopes. Their lair can also be in the hollow of a tree, under large rocks or under the earth. They eat and sleep there.
The Japanese black bear is omnivorous, feeding mainly on plant matter all year round. Depending on the season, its diet consists of acorns, small green shoots, cherries, ants and other insects. Acorns are essential food for bears in the fall, as they allow them to increase their body mass before winter hibernation. It rarely hunts, but it can occasionally eat small animals such as frogs, lizards, crabs and carrion.
Much of the original habitat of the Japanese black bear has been used for planting. Uncontrolled deforestation has continued over the years, forcing bears to enter villages or farms to find food.
The Japanese know how to live with bears, around farms, garbage cans and especially beehives are protected by fences. On mountain paths, warnings are displayed for walkers and bells are available for hikers to scare away bears. Local guides have sticks fitted with bells.