Nature in Oku Nikko

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  3. Nature in Oku Nikko
  4. Bear Information

Bear Information

See the Information (Japanese Only)

About the bears

The following is the basic biology of the Asian black bear.

  • Distribution

    In Japan, there are two kinds of bears-the Asian black bear and the brown bear. The Asian black bears in Oku Nikko are distributed throughout Honshu and the Shikoku Islands (extinct on Kyushu Island).
    *The brown bear lives only in Hokkaido in Japan.


  • Feeding

    Bears are omnivorous and feed on beech-tree sprouts and bamboo in spring; leaves and grass seeds, termites, and honeycombs in summer; and nuts from oak, beech, and chestnut trees in autumn. They also eat fish, dead deer, and wild rabbits.

  • Form

    [Bodily characteristics]
    - Physical ability: Good at climbing trees and swimming and can run faster than humans.
    - Body: Entirely black except a white pattern like a crescent on the chest (with few exceptions without such a pattern). Have sharp claws and fangs. Adults measure 110 cm to 130 cm in length and weigh 40 kg to 130 kg.

  • Behavior

    Rather than marking their territory, they seek seasonal food. When they are short of food, they expand their range. They forage within a range of 40 to 70 sq. km.

    [Hours when they are active]
    - Although bears are most active in early morning and evening, they forage throughout the day in spring and autumn. Additionally, they are active in the daytime when it’s raining, foggy, or hazy.

  • Hibernation (Winter confinement)

    After having accumulated fat from eating acorns in autumn, bears hibernate from around December to April. Because bears generally do not lower their body temperature during hibernation, they sometimes wake from any external stimulation, so it is also called fuyugomori (winter confinement.)

  • Traces

    In their habitat, bears leave traces, such as feces, claw marks on trees, peeled off tree bark (kumahagi), and collections of broken tree branches showing that they foraged for the nuts on trees (kumadana).

    • traces


    • feces


    • kumadana


    • kumahagi


To avoid danger

It is important to let bears know of your presence and not get close to bears.

  • Check where they are witnessed

    Check in advance for information on bear sightings and keep away from places where bears have been seen.

  • Let bears know your existence

    The most important thing is to let bears know of your presence with a bear bell (*) in order to avoid sudden encounters. Although you may encounter a bear even when wearing a bear bell, the risk is much less if the bear is alerted to your presence from the sound of the bell. Conversely, sudden encounters are the most dangerous, so you need to be careful, especially in places with poor visibility or where there may be bears by not running and by making noise. However where there are a lot of people, you need to give consideration to the others by not making too much noise.
    *High-pitched sound that resonate to distant places is effective. Radios, etc., are not appropriate.

  • Avoid acting in morning and evening, and separately

    Early morning and early evening are the times when bears are most active, so be especially careful. The same is true when it’s raining, foggy, or hazy. Incidentally, in recent years, bears have often been seen during the daytime regardless of time and weather, so please be careful.

  • Do not create dangerous bears

    Leaving garbage, uneaten food, and empty cans outside will attract bears. Never discard or bury garbage.

If encountered

It is dangerous not only for you but also for the bear. If you encounter a bear, remain calm and do not do anything that may excite the bear.

  • Leave quietly

    If you are far away from the bear, do not run or make noise-instead leave quietly. When you are close to the bear, do not turn your back-instead move backward slowly. If you are very close, wait for the bear to leave, and then leave the place.

  • Do not excite the bear

    The bear is also upset when encountering humans. Behaviors, such as shining a flashlight on the bear, taking a picture, and running (moving suddenly), are very dangerous regardless of the distance.

  • Do not get close to bear cubs

    Bear cubs can be very cute, but the mother is always nearby. Mother bears are especially aggressive in order to protect their children, so never get close.

  • If attacked

    Because Asian black bears can run at 40 to 50 km per hour, and can climb trees and swim, think about protecting your body instead of running away. Curl up in a ball, face down, and protect your neck and head with your arms, or hide behind a big rock or fallen tree, while waiting for the bear to leave.

See the Information (Japanese Only)

  • Bear Information

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