Feeling Crabby

“Recite the story of the battle at Dan-no-ura,—for the pity of it is the most deep.”

Then Hōïchi lifted up his voice, and chanted the chant of the fight on the bitter sea,—wonderfully making his biwa to sound like the straining of oars and the rushing of ships, the whirr and the hissing of arrows, the shouting and trampling of men, the crashing of steel upon helmets, the plunging of slain in the flood. And to left and right of him, in the pauses of his playing, he could hear voices murmuring praise: “How marvelous an artist!”—“Never in our own province was playing heard like this!”—“Not in all the empire is there another singer like Hōïchi!” Then fresh courage came to him, and he played and sang yet better than before; and a hush of wonder deepened about him. But when at last he came to tell the fate of the fair and helpless,—the piteous perishing of the women and children,—and the death-leap of Nii-no-Ama, with the imperial infant in her arms,—then all the listeners uttered together one long, long shuddering cry of anguish; and thereafter they wept and wailed so loudly and so wildly that the blind man was frightened by the violence and grief that he had made.

The Story of Mimi-nashi Hōichi,
from Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn

Hi blog.

Happy New Year and all that.

I’m resting up on the last couple of days of my winter holidays before the rush that is third term, not to mention dealing with my eldest trying to get into university.

We just had a reasonably heavy snowfall (9cm in central Tokyo), but luckily almost all of it has already melted away. Ice on roads and footpaths is NOT a good thing. I still have mental scars from my exchange student days in Hokkaido and the perils of walking a couple of hundred metres to the bus stop and slipping over every few paces.

This blog post was inspired by the post “Akama Shrine and the Tale of Hoichi the Earless” from fellow Japan-based blog Going Batty with Matty. Do yourself a favour and check out what Matty has to say.

It was interesting that almost as soon as I read the title I thought to myself, “I wonder if he’s going to mention the crabs.”

In summary:

In the final decisive battle between the Minamoto (AKA Genji) and Taira (AKA Heike) clans in their feud – which escalated into a civil war – the Minamoto emerged victorious in their naval engagement, despite the Taira traditionally having the stronger maritime force. Several Taira lords were killed in the battle, and the child emperor Antoku was drowned when his nurse/grandmother jumped into the sea with him in her arms to avoid capture. Folklore has it that many of the Taira samurai also threw themselves into the sea.

There is a kind of crab, commonly known as the heikegani (平家蟹, literally “Heike crab”), with patterns on its carapace that resembles an angry human face. These crabs are said to be the souls of the lost Heike clan. It is said that fishermen throw them back out of respect for (or fear of) the Heike.

A heikegani. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
The ghosts of Taira Kiyomori and his followers. You can see that some of them have already become crabs. Print by Kuniyoshi,

Hearn summed it up nicely:

More than seven hundred years ago, at Dan-no-ura, in the Straits of
Shimonoseki, was fought the last battle of the long contest between the
Heike, or Taira clan, and the Genji, or Minamoto clan. There the Heike
perished utterly, with their women and children, and their infant emperor
likewise — now remembered as Antoku Tenno. And that sea and shore have
been haunted for seven hundred years… Elsewhere I told you about the
strange crabs found there, called Heike crabs, which have human faces on
their backs, and are said to be the spirits of the Heike warriors.

But then a question formed in my mind. “If the name heikegani stems from the events of the Battle of Dan-no-Ura, what were these crabs called before 1185?”

This led me on a search which turned up alternative names including kiyotsunegani, takebungani and shimamuragani, all of which are named after historical or semi-historical characters who drowned themselves. Furthermore, two of these characters lived long after the events of 1185 and the other died just two years before.

Not only did crabs number among the yokai of Japanese folklore, it seems that the lost souls of heroes who died at sea reappear as crabs in a number of stories.

Shimamura Danjo by Kuniyoshi, C.1843. In case you haven’t guessed, the shimamuragani takes its name from this hero.

The Wakansansaizue uses the names takebungani and shimamurakani, plus the name onigani (鬼蟹), but my research suggests the earliest recorded use of this name as coming from the 16th century.

Although the kanji reads onigani, the names takebungani and shimamuragani are given as common names. From the Wakansansaizue.

A name given to the crabs in parts of Kochi Prefecture is kumogani, literally “spider crab”. It must be noted that heikegani belong to a different family from the groups known as spider crabs in English.

I also wondered about the narrative that these crabs are not eaten. That seems to be true – all the sources I could find suggested the crabs are not sold commercially, and I wasn’t able to find any references to either the crabs being eaten, or any reason (beyond folklore) why they can’t be eaten. Maybe size has something to do with it – the crabs’ shells rarely exceed a width of 20 mm or so.

Confusing the issue further is the number of similar and closely related crabs. In addition to Heikeopsis japonica, I have found references to Heikeopsis arachnoides, Paradorippe granulata, Dorippe sinica, Ethusa quadrata, E. sexdentata, and E. izuensis, while the Japanese carcinologist Tsune Sakai suggested that there are at least 17 different species of crabs in two families in the Indo-West Pacific that are similar enough to be called Heike-gani by local residents.

Let us return to Hearn, this time from Kotto:

These reflections were induced by a box of crabs sent me from the Province of Chōshū,—crabs possessing that very same quality of grotesqueness which we are accustomed to think of as being peculiarly Japanese. On the backs of these creatures there are bossings and depressions that curiously simulate the shape of a human face,—a distorted face,—a face modelled in relief as a Japanese craftsman might have modelled it in some moment of artistic whim.

Two varieties of such crabs—nicely dried and polished—are constantly exposed for sale in the shops of Akamagaséki (better known to foreigners by the name of Shimonoséki). They are caught along the neighbouring stretch of coast called Dan-no-Ura, where the great clan of the Heiké, or Taira, were exterminated in a naval battle, seven centuries ago, by the rival clan of Genji, or Minamoto. Readers of Japanese history will remember the story of the Imperial Nun, Nii-no-Ama, who in the hour of that awful tragedy composed a poem, and then leaped into the sea, with the child-emperor Antoku in her arms.

Now the grotesque crabs of this coast are called Heiké-gani, or “Heiké-crabs,” because of a legend that the spirits of the drowned and slaughtered warriors of the Heiké-clan assumed such shapes; and it is said that the fury or the agony of the death-struggle can still be discerned in the faces upon the backs of the crabs. But to feel the romance of this legend you should be familiar with old pictures of the fight of Dan-no-Ura,—old coloured prints of the armoured combatants, with their grim battle-masks of iron and their great fierce eyes.

The smaller variety of crab is known simply as a “Heiké-crab,”—Heiké-gani. Each Heiké-gani is supposed to be animated by the spirit of a common Heiké warrior only,—an ordinary samurai. But the larger kind of crab is also termed Taishō-gani (“Chieftain-crab”), or Tatsugashira (“Dragon-helmet”); and all Taishō-gani or Tatsugashira are thought to be animated by ghosts of those great Heiké captains who bore upon their helmets monsters unknown to Western heraldry, and glittering horns, and dragons of gold.

I got a Japanese friend to draw for me the two pictures of Heiké-gani herewith reproduced; and I can vouch for their accuracy.

Oddly enough, I was unable to find usage of either tatsugashira or taishogani. I wonder if they are not regional names. Given the illustrations, however, we can probably be safe guessing that the upper picture is Heikeopsis japonica and the lower picture to be Dorippe sinica.

This photo shows specimens of, from top to bottom, Paradorippe granulata, Heikeopsis japonica and Dorippe sinica. Photo courtesy of Timothy Takemoto / flikr.

Dorippe sinica, by the way, is commonly known in Japan as kimengani (鬼面蟹), literally “demon face crab”.

A commonly held misconception is that fishermen would throw back the ones that looked most like a human face, inadvertently allowing them to breed and pass on their unusual appearance to their offspring. Fossil records show the exact same patterns on crabs that existed before the appearance of humans, and these crabs are eaten in other parts of the world but show no difference in pattern from ones in Japan.

So, while I never did solve the mystery as to the original name for the crabs, I learned a great deal while doing my research.

Again, a big shout out to Going Batty with Matty.

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The Claw

Hi blog,

Season’s Greetings as I write this on Boxing Day (What most Australians refer December 26th as)

I didn’t think I would be writing another post this year. With sunrise after 6:45, sunset before 4:40, days of fridge temperature maximums (today’s top will is expected to be 5℃), plus the end of year stuff to do (including making two Christmas puddings at work, ho, ho ho!) have left encounters with wildlife largely out of the question.

Even worse, my striped loaches all died within three days of each other. I can only guess that the weather had something to do with it.

However, I was recently given something that might be of interest to readers of this blog.

Not something you receive every day.

It was a present from my wife’s uncle. Actually, it was handed to me by my mother-in-law. She asked me to guess what it was and seemed a bit disappointed when I did.

Guessing was easy. I recognise a mammal’s claw when I see one, and the only animal in Japan large enough to possess a claw of that size – just over half the length of my thumb – is a bear. Furthermore, since it was from the uncle in rural Fukushima, a Japanese black bear was the only candidate. (I was aided by the knowledge that sometimes bears enter the village and are shot – I had bear curry there once.)

While I would prefer that the bears are not shot and killed, I realize that sometimes it is the only way to ensure the safety of the people in the village. And while I don’t agree with killing for trophies, I am pleased to have the claw as an object of interest connected to wildlife.

Wishing you all the best for 2022.

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Hi blog.

We are into winter, although we have had some not too unpleasant daytime temperatures, even if it takes most of the morning for the chill to disappear. We have also had some very cold and wet days. Oddly enough, the rainy days tend to bring slightly warmer mornings.

The earliest sunset of the year (4:27 and 23 seconds) has come and gone, but we have yet to experience the solstice on December 22nd and the latest sunrise which will occur on January 6th.

December 6th also brought Mars at its brightest along with the moon and Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn all in more-or-less a straight line. It also brought cloud cover that lasted through the next day, followed by rain, more cloud the following night and finally clearing up on Friday the 10th, by which time it was impossible to see all the planets since some were too low in the sky by the time it became dark enough.

I tried getting a photo, but a phone just doesn’t cut it.

That’s the moon on the far left – its light causes the camera to register it as two objects. Jupiter is the bright object right of that, Venus is on the far left, and Saturn is the white dot about halfway between them. Neptune was left of the moon, but wasn’t visible with the naked eye, and Mars and Mercury were already too low.

Squeezing four heavenly bodies into a single frame wasn’t easy.

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Rascal the Roadkill

Hi blog.

Just another very short post (is there any other kind?) based on a single photo (hmmm, sound familiar?) from a chance encounter (usually being the basis of the most interesting posts).

November 25th. I was on my way to work after two days off – Labor Thanksgiving Day and then a paid day off (not having any lessons due to tests). It was the coldest morning of the season thus far, and there was frost on bare ground.

My usual cycling route takes me on a service road paralleling a major access route between Tokorozawa and Sayama, with a single strip of woodland and some small businesses separating the two. It was there that I came across this.

May be an image of animal and outdoors
“He’s dead, Jim.”

I was in a bit of a hurry, so I just squeezed of one photo and left.

I imagine the raccoon had been hit by a car on the main road, just made it this far and died.

I have mentioned raccoons in other posts (here) and (here) but I would never have imagined coming across one, even a dead one.

Raccoons have gained a reputation as destructive animals. The people who bought them as pets under the influence of Rascal the Raccoon should have waited until the final episode when Sterling decides that Rascal shouldn’t be kept as a pet… Japan would have been spared the importation of thousands of raccoons that were not properly cared for and were either abandoned or escaped. These raccoons and their descendants cause hundreds of millions of yen worth of damage in agriculture, not to mention property damage – World Heritage-listed temples sometimes falling victim – and environmental damage.

Raccoons are true omnivores, but about two thirds of their diet is animal based. They have a special fondness for eggs and chicks, as well as turtles, plus can out compete similar sized raccoon dogs and badgers for food and living space.

If only Rascal had been portrayed like this…
…instead of this.

Ultimately, Japan’s raccoons should probably be culled to protect the environment. It is a pity that humans created this situation in the first place.

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Going Bananas

The banana tree
blown by winds pours raindrops
into the bucket

Matsuo Basho

Hi, blog.

This will be a fairly short post. The days, like my posts, are also becoming increasingly short. In fact, between November 28th and December 13th, the sun will set before 4:30 local time.

My last post consisted essentially of a single photo and a question: “What fruit is this?”

The answer, of course, is the Japanese banana. Only it was not the fruit; it was in fact part of the flower.

Sorry, it’s actually part of the flower. The fruit form much further up the stalk.

Long thought to be native to Japan, Musa basjoo is now known to originate in southern China. In Japan it is known as the basho (芭蕉), and seems difficult to separate from the poet who adopted it as his name.

The “trees” grow up to 3 metres tall, and the leaves may reach 1.5 metres in length and 50 cm in width. They are not true trees, but actually a herbaceous plant, lacking woody tissues.

These “trees” were about 3 metres tall. It seems strange to think these are growing on the corner of two busy roads.

If conditions are right, they will produce banana-like fruit. However, these tend to be tough and contain a large number of seeds as well as high concentrations of tannin, and are therefore not suitable for eating.

Another flower. I don’t recall seeing anything else that resembled fruit.

In some areas, particularly the Ryukyus, the plant is a source of fibres which are woven into cloth.

By and large, however, the plant is used purely as an ornament. Basho himself declared the plant as essentially useless.

I don’t think it’s useless. It certainly brightened up my afternoon.

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Name that fruit!

Hi blog.

It’s funny what you might encounter on your 9 km get-out-of-the-house-while-the-weather-is-good walk.

So, I have a little challenge for you.

Name the fruit.

Yep, as the title says. Name that fruit.

Type your answers in the comments below.

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Invader’s Web

‘Cause the world as you knew it turned upside down
And things would never be the same
The day The Invaders came

Ray Davies

Hi blog.

I’ve been enjoying the largely mild and sunny weather after a particularly cold patch from mid-October. Unfortunately, work has been keeping me too busy and frustrated to actually go out and enjoy the sun.

I was wondering when or if I could get a blog post out this month, but a certain article appeared on my news feed about another species native to Japan making inroads as an invasive species in the U.S.A.

From The Guardian


‘Like a scene from Arachnophobia’: large Joro spiders invade northern Georgia

Yellow, blue and red spiders, native to east Asia, thriving in warm weather and sending experts scrambling

The joro spider in Johns Creek, Georgia in October. Researchers say the particular abundance of the spiders this year could be down to changes in weather.
The joro spider in Johns Creek, Georgia in October. Researchers say the particular abundance of the spiders this year could be down to changes in weather. Photograph: Alex Sanz/APAdam Gabbatt and agencies@adamgabbattTue 2 Nov 2021 13.00 GMT

Last modified on Tue 2 Nov 2021 15.43 GMT

Northern Georgia has found itself besieged by millions of large yellow, blue and red spiders, in scenes residents say bring to mind the movie Arachnophobia.

The Joro spider is an invasive species, native to east Asia, that was first spotted in Georgia in 2014. Since then, the 3in arachnid appears to have thrived in the warm climes of the state.

Its presence has upset locals, however, particularly given its propensity to spin dense webs up to 3 metres deep.

Jennifer Turpin, a self-described arachnophobe who lives in Atlanta, told the Associated Press she stopped blowing leaves in her yard after walking into a Joro web.

Turpin, 50, said she tried to set a web on fire but became concerned the web would fall on her. She swiftly backpedaled, only to fall into a hole. Turpin asked a neighbor remove the spider.

“I just don’t think I’m going to do yard work any more,” Turpin said.

Debbie Gilbert, from Norcross, 20 miles north-east of Atlanta, was also forced to take matters into her own hands. She said she uses a stick to wind up the webs, before tossing it, spiders and all, to the ground. The 67-year-old then stomped on the spiders, she said.

“I don’t advocate killing anything,” Gilbert said. “I live in peace with all the spiders around here and everything else. But [Joros] just don’t belong here, that’s all.”

Joro spiders, or Trichonephila clavata, are common in Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan. It is unclear how they made their way to the US. Researchers say the particular abundance of the spiders this year could be down to changes in weather.

It is unclear whether the spider will have a negative impact on native flora and fauna, as do other invasive species, including the notorious spotted lanternfly. Ann Rypstra, who studies spider behavior at Miami University, told the AP more research was needed.

“I’d always err on the side of caution when you have something that establishes itself where it’s not supposed to be,” she said.

In the meantime, people across north Georgia are trying to come to terms with their new neighbours. In Winterville, Will Hudson’s front porch became unusable amid an abundance of Joro webs 10ft deep. An entomologist at the University of Georgia, he said that he had killed more than 300 of the spiders.

“The webs are a real mess,” Hudson said. “Nobody wants to come out of the door in the morning, walk down the steps and get a face full of spider web.”

Hudson said that though the spiders can bite, they are not a threat to humans. A researcher collecting them with her bare hands reported the occasional pinch, he said, but said the spiders never broke her skin.

“Last year there were dozens of spiders, and they began to be something of a nuisance when I was doing yard work,” Hudson said. “This year, I have several hundred, and they actually make the place look spooky with all the messy webs – like a scene out of Arachnophobia.”

Article ends.

And from Live Science:

Giant, invasive spiders have taken over Georgia. Will they spread across the US?

By Ben Turner 1 day ago

The spiders arrived in 2014. Now, there are millions of them.

Joro spiders spin dense, gold-tinted webs
Joro spiders spin dense, gold-tinted webs (Image credit: University of Georgia )

Millions of giant spiders have invaded North Georgia, terrifying residents and spinning webs as thick as 10 feet (3 meters) deep.

Porches, power lines, mailboxes and vegetable patches across more than 25 counties in the state have been draped with the dense, wheel-shaped webs of the bright-yellow Joro spider (Trichonephila clavata), an invasive species originating in East Asia.

The first of the 3-inch (7.6 centimeters) spiders was spotted 80 miles (128 kilometers) northeast of Atlanta in 2014; it likely hitchhiked there inside a shipping container, its discoverer, Rick Hoebeke, the collections manager at the Georgia Museum of Natural History said in a statement

Since then, the spider’s population and range have expanded steadily across the state, but nothing prepared residents or researchers for the number of spiders they would face this year. Will Hudson, an entomologist at the University of Georgia, said his porch became unusable after being covered by a blanket of webs 10 feet (3 m) deep, and he claims to have killed more than 300 spiders. 

“Last year, there were dozens of spiders, and they began to be something of a nuisance when I was doing yard work,” Hudson said in the statement. “This year, I have several hundred, and they actually make the place look spooky with all the messy webs — like a scene out of ‘Arachnophobia.'” 

Common to China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, Joro spiders are part of a group of spiders known as “orb weavers” because of their highly symmetrical, circular webs. Though they are venomous, they use the venom only to immobilise the prey they snare in their webs. The venom poses no threat to human beings, dogs or cats unless they are allergic to it. While the spiders may nip if threatened, their bites are not often strong enough to break the skin.

Most of Georgia’s Joro spiders will probably die off by late November, but this is far from the last we will see of them. Now that the spiders have gained a foothold (or eight) in the U.S., experts believe that the arachnids could spread even farther into other states with similar climates. Female Joros lay egg sacs, spun together with silk, that contain at least 400 babies. When the hatchlings emerge in the spring, they ride the wind on a strand of silk, floating across enormous distances, much like the baby spiders in the E.B. White novel “Charlotte’s Web”.

A lot of invasive species tend to destabilize the ecosystems they enter, but some scientists are optimistic that the spiders could actually bring unexpected benefits. Nancy Hinkle, an entomologist at the University of Georgia, said Joro spiders kill off mosquitoes, biting flies and invasive brown marmorated stink bugs, which have no natural predators and are known for damaging crops.

“Joro spiders present us with excellent opportunities to suppress pests naturally, without chemicals, so I’m trying to convince people that having zillions of large spiders and their webs around is a good thing!” Hinkle said in the statement.

Article ends.

I just hope that the American popular media don’t start labelling the spiders with some stupid hyperbolic name like they did with the Asian giant hornet!

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Did The Earth Move For You, Or Was It Just Steam?

Now I don’t know
I don’t know
I don’t know where I’m a gonna go
When the volcano blow

Volcano, Jimmy Buffett

Hi blog.

A recent eruption of Mt. Aso, a popular tourist spot in Kumamoto Prefecture, has made fairly big news here.

Fortunately, there have been no reports of injuries.

From Kyodo News


Mt. Aso erupts in southwestern Japan

Wednesday, Oct. 20, 12:30

The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued a bulletin on a volcanic eruption in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

The agency says Mount Aso erupted around 11:43 a.m. on Wednesday. Officials are now evaluating the eruption.

They are urging people in the volcano’s vicinity to secure their safety and keep abreast of the latest information.

An eruption bulletin is issued when a larger explosion occurs at a volcano that has previously erupted.

And updated:


Expert: Mt. Aso likely a steam eruption

Friday, Oct. 22, 10:00

An expert says analysis of volcanic ash from Mount Aso in western Japan found no substances related to fresh magma from underground, indicating the blast on Wednesday was probably a steam eruption.

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, or AIST, analyzed volcanic ash collected in Takamori Town, 4.2 kilometers southeast of a crater that erupted.

The institute says the analysis found that almost all of the ashes consisted of pieces of rocks from around the crater and that no substances from magma deep underground were confirmed.

The institute says the finding shows heated underground water caused Wednesday’s eruption, and that the volcano is unlikely to erupt on a major scale soon.

Yamamoto Takahiro, deputy chief of AIST’s Research Institute of Earthquake and Volcano Geology, says steam eruptions gradually shifted to magma eruptions in the volcano’s activities in the past.

Yamamoto said the volcano is continuing its active activities and there’s no doubt that magma exists underground. He added that further monitoring is necessary to see if the ratio of magmatic materials will increase.

Article ends.

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Nitta Was Here

Hi blog.

I’ve finally been able to take advantage of my time and the weather to throw together a quick post which I was originally hoping would be last month’s miraculous fourth post instead of what could be a miraculous sole post for this month.

I’ll spare you the usual excuses, suffice to say that some of the stuff going on at work is doing my head in.

Regular readers may recall that I have posted on sites associated with a certain Nitta Yoshisada here, here and here.

Well, I have a fourth locale to add.

This comes from a bit of dumb luck last month when I really needed to get outside and so took a walk to and around Hachikokuyama one afternoon. At the end of my walk around the park I noticed that I wasn’t more than a few hundred metres from a temple on the Tokorozawa Seven Gods of Good Fortune pilgrimage, and decided to have a look. I was disappointed – the statue of the god was a very recent work and appeared to be made for tourists as much as pilgrims. However, there were a couple of shrines a hundred or so metres up the hill, and they were old.

The Suitengu Shrine had nothing special about it, and the same could almost be said about the neighbouring Hatoagmine Hachiman Shrine, except the main shrine building is one of the very few wooden buildings in Saitama which predate the Muromachi Period, and the shrine once contained a pine tree that Nitta hung his helmet on. Also, Nitta is said to have taken off his armour and placed it on a small Inari Shrine within the shrine grounds.

Unfortunately, it was getting into late afternoon and the sun was already behind the hills. The lighting would have killed any chance of getting decent photos, so I decided to wait for a better chance.

The Hatoagmine Hachiman Shrine as approached from the front entrance. (I actually came in from the side via the Suitengu Shrine)
“It’s not a real shrine unless it has lots of stairs.”
The main shrine building. Nitta stopped here to pray. Well, maybe not exactly “here”, but at the Hachiman Shrine which had been built the year prior to his arrial.
A withering pine tree (I wonder which number since the original) and a stone marker. The pine was later known a “kabutokakematsu”, hanging helmet pine.
This little shrine has no marker or sign. In fact, there are several small shrines within the grounds, most of them unmarked…
… however, the foxes are a dead giveaway that this is the Inari Shrine. This shrine is sometimes called “Yoroiinari” because Nitta placed his armour here.
Information sign, including some dubious English. (“Kids, a relative clause is not a sentence!”

It seems that Nitta also stopped off at the Hachiman Shrine in Sayama and tied his white horse to a pine there. That will be a trip for another day.

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Track This!

Hi blog.

I’m writing a (miraculous?) third post for this month. This one will be very short, based again on a “stumbled upon” moment.

I got a phone call from a friend asking if I would like to go to the river to catch some fish. Having obtained permission for myself and the youngest, we went off on Sunday morning.

Instead of being a fishing trip per se, it was checking out some irrigation channels around rice paddies, which are a haven for aquatic life. We caught a number of fish and shrimp, plus some aquatic snails, which we would divide between us. My friend’s primary interest, however, is turtles, and we went through some dry channels to rescue turtles that had fallen in and were unable to escape. I think we rescued six or seven turtles.

Looking into one channel with some wet mud in it, I immediately noticed two very distinct sets of footprints.

The focus is on the deep set of prints in the middle moving from the top of the frame to the bottom. Notice that there are four toes with long claws. To the left of the frame you can see one of the other prints.
This set shows both the front and rear foot prints of a different animal. Note that there a five long toes on each foot.

Can you guess which animals made them? As a hint, one of them is a native animal, the other is a feral species, and both have appeared in this blog before.

Answers in the comments, please.

Answer: The prints in the top photo belong to a raccoon dog, the ones in the lower photo belong to a raccoon.

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