Eyes, JAPAN Blog > Black bears in the sign jungle

Black bears in the sign jungle



When I arrived at Tokyo over six month ago, I was somehow overwhelmed by the endless numbers of signs and advertisements around me. Especially when you are new to a language, you cannot sort out quickly the important information out of the visual and acoustic noise. And in Japan there is not only the language problem, but especially the Asian writing with Kanji causes me quite a trouble. So at the beginning I tended to try to decipher every interesting looking sign. And if you are new to a country everything seems to be interesting, somehow… And I was really surprised: unlike the image I had about Japanese people, there can be a huge surplus supply of information, especially in the area of service it can be even quite obtrusive sometimes. So I have to admit that in the end after some weeks my ability of perception was quite exhausted and I was more the other way round: I ignored these information overflow completely.

But this can be kind of dangerous as well. Somehow the first subconscious expectation about things you haven’t been confronted with in a different environment, is naively that it is similar to your home country. I’m from a country where the most dangerous animal is maybe the tick. So we don’t have animals like bears in Germany. (At least we hadn’t for about 170 years with one exception in 2006. But this bear was shot by Bavarian hunters…) Of course I heard about bears in Japan. But I wasn’t thinking about it anymore because of the hiker’s replies to my question was always that wasps were probably the biggest danger you could encounter in the Japanese nature; but their season has gone now. So I was doing my hikes without worrying to much. At least until I encountered my first black bear: a really huge animal. Thanks god it was only a padded one. But to think I could encounter a living exemplar in the forest… And suddenly I see all this warning signs along hiking paths again which are giving me the good advice to beware of dangerous bears and poisonous snakes.


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