Japan Fauna: No Squirrels in Japan?

You know what animal I don’t see in Japan, that I saw everywhere in Georgia? SQUIRRELS! I hear they exist in some parts of Japan, but I have yet to see any. I’m sure have to exist somewhere around because I’ve seen several anime with squirrels or flying squirrels in them. But it must be a rare thing. I had an adult student once who said when he went to America and was taking pictures of squirrels, his American friends would ask him “Why are you doing that?” In America, seeing a squirrel doesn’t really strike you as anything special, but if I were to see one here, I would definitely stop and take notice.

Why am I thinking about squirrels you ask?

This popped in my mind after going out to play pool (I suck by the way) with some of my former AEON co-workers. One of the teachers that I really wanted to see, Gareth*, wasn’t able to make it. I remember us having one of that classic British English vs American English (Australian and New Zealand English I’m going say falls more on the British side…maybe) debates. We were laughing at each other’s pronunciation of the word squirrel. It kinda sounds like “skwerl” when I would say it, and my Gareth’s would come out like “skwi-werl.” I do enjoy teaching at public school, but I miss having other foreigners to joke around with at the workplace.

*You may remember him from the Depiction of Life as an Expat through Nintendo Music post.

But, yeah, I haven’t seen a single, solitary squirrel since I’ve been here. In Georgia, they were everywhere. I don’t know about the winter time (I can’t really remember) but spring, summer, and fall, they were out and about, chasing after one another, nimbly leaping through the tree tops. Some unfortunate squirrels would venture in to Old Man Ash’s (Dad’s) pear tree to sample fruit, and he would try his best to shoot them with his trusty pellet gun. YIKES.

This got me to thinking about animals that might be in Japan that you wouldn’t see freely running around anywhere else. Though I didn’t see any when I went, I heard that Nara has quite a few monkeys running around freely in the forest. I hear that you should actually watch out for your belongings, because monkeys will take them. The only think that I can think of that might be different here in Tsukuba are the crows.

Most things in Japan are smaller than you might expect in the U.S.: serving sizes at fast food restaurants, apartments, and even the people (in general anyway). I guess Japanese crows didn’t get that memo…they are huge here!

Crows are louder here than I remember them ever being in the U.S., their beaks are bigger and I hear that they’re devilishly clever (like the ones that put rocks on train track rails or the ones the fly by and hit people on the head with their wings (I actually saw that on a Japanese TV program once)). I once saw this crow flying by my with this huge piece of flesh hanging from its beak. Usually I don’t pay attention, but this was quite noticeable. I wonder person is missing a section of their back because of that bird.

Other than the crows, I don’t really see any type of animal that’s out of the ordinary in my section of Japan. Please be careful if you’re traveling in forests Hokkaido as I hear it’s a breeding area for abominable snowmen.

Any unusual creatures in your part of Japan?

Donald Ash

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  • I’ve seen plenty of squirrels in Kamakura. They’re quite common.

    • Donald Ash

      Thanks for the comment, Jay Dee. You know how some of the crows are bigger here in Japan? Do the squirrels look any different than they do in America? Are they bigger? Smaller? If you happen to snap a picture of any, please let me know. I want to see.

      • I don’t think they look very different. They seem a bit smaller, I think, though. I have a picture on my old computer. I’d have to dig it out. Should do that this week, anyway. I need to transfer all the photos to my current computer.

        • Donald Ash

          Oh, okay. If it’s a hassle, don’t sweat it. I haven’t been to Kamakura in quite some time. Maybe I need to schedule a trip :)

  • Roger Starkey

    You have to be near a really wooded area to see squirrels.

    • Donald Ash

      I’m going to have to find a good place, Roger. I want my squirrels!! :D

  • G

    I remember the ants. They are a heck of a lot bigger in Japan!

  • Gee

    Tail-less monkeys in the forest near my school! (Kameyama, Mie)

    • Donald Ash

      A tail-less monkey beats a squirrel in my opinion :D NICE!

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