Roadkill and Roadsigns

Hi blog.

The rainy season is well and truly upon us, with some frightful downpours scattered across the Kanto region.


Just recently, the Sayama zoo had its annual firefly event – the park breeds fireflies in a special enclosure and opens it to the public once a year.  Just ¥500 to get my family that and the night zoo option is pretty good value.

Unfortunately, the delicate nature of fireflies negates any possibility of photography – as do the rules – so you’ll have to take my word for it.

A rare photograph of the event, courtesy of the Sayama City Office Facebook page.


When it’s not raining I still try to commute to work by bike.  Firstly, I’m pretty tight.  Every day I ride, I save myself ¥400.  Secondly, I need the exercise, especially now that my budo activities have been put on hold.  Thirdly, encounters are better made on bike than on a train.


I had yet another encounter with a Japanese rat snake, and decided to get some simple video footage.  You’ll have to excuse the fact that it looks tiny through the phone lens – this particular individual would have been about 120 cm long.

Not all my encounters are in such good condition.  Earlier that same morning I spotted the carcass of an Asian palm civet – probably hit by a vehicle.  And the day before, I stumbled across a mole – an animal rarely seen – in much the same condition.

Warning: some readers my find the following photograph disturbing.

Probably the endemic small Japanese mole.


An idea that came to me during my last post was some of the road signs warning drivers to beware of animals on the road.  There are four main signs, with a few variations…plus a number of regional signs.

Sika deer

Japanese macaque / snow monkey. They’ll steal your car if you’re not careful!

A rather comical (drunk?) raccoon dog.

Hare. “What’s up, doc?”

…plus a number of regional signs.

The Okinawan rail. Okinwawa also has signs warning drivers to look out for the Iriomote cat, newts, turtles and toads. This and the four preceeding signs courtesy of Wikipedia.

These signs have been documented by numerous bloggers in Japaneses (here, here and here, for example) and are worth looking at even if you can’t read the language.

I’ve saved one of my more interesting finds for last.  A page from the Hiroshima City Office notes a sign on route 191 warning drivers to look out for otters – an animal not seen since the early 1970’s and declared extinct in 2012!

From the Hiroshima City Office page. I would be much happier if this sign was actually necessary!


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2 Responses to Roadkill and Roadsigns

  1. Hi there. I only found this site today and have been reading with interest. I thought I would offer another sign for your “collection”: that of the momonga. How do I send it to you? I am very interested in Japanese wildlife and have a lot of photographs of Japanese fauna and flora. I own a ton of Japanese language field guides (birds, birds of prey, water birds, insects, spiders, butterflies, pest species (really useful for identifying any moth seen at night in the summer which were not depicted in any other guides, tree, plants, flowers, reptiles and amphibians etc) but nothing in English apart for birds, so I appreciate this blog. Caroline Wiggins

    • wildinjapan says:

      Hi Caroline.
      Thanks for the shout!
      There’s nothing like having field guides AND the chance to use them. I don’t get many chances to make use of mine, but I like having them.
      Thanks for your offer of a road sign. You can send it to me at
      I hope to see your name come up in my comments list again soon.

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