To get to the other side

You don’t see this every day.


No, that’s not a rope suspended between the wall and the utility pole.


I stumbled upon this on June 13th near the border between Saitama and Tokyo.


The snake in question is almost certainly the Japanese rat snake (Elaphe climacophora), locally known as the aodaisho (青大将) “the green (or blue) general”.


This one is a juvenile and still has stripes.


The largest* – growing between 100 and 200 cm – and most commonly seen snake in mainland Japan, the Japanese rat snake tends to follow human populations – or rather, follow the rats which follow human populations.  They also prey upon lizards and small birds, and will raid nests.

*Caveat: Some sources place the Japanese striped snake (Elaphe quadrivirgata) as being the longest snake in Japan.


They are excellent climbers, and had I arrived at that spot a minute later, the snake would probably have been at ground level.

Folklore once held that it was lucky to have a snake living in the roof of one’s house.  This was no doubt true in earlier times when the roof was also used as a food storehouse and rat infestation was a very real problem.


Anyway, as summer progresses – we are still in the rainy season and one day away from the solstice – I have no doubt that I’ll see more of these lovely creatures in my travels.  Although I probably won’t ever get a photo opportunity like this again.

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