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The Lost Wolves of Japan

Today’s topic of discussion is a little different, different because it’s not actually about werewolves, but about wolves. I know, I know. This is a werewolf site, but I found this little gem I thought many of you would find interesting. I found the book The Lost Wolves of Japan by Brett L. Walker. It sounds like an excellent read for those interesting in real wolves. Check it out…

978-0-295-98814-6-frontcoverBook description:

“Many Japanese once revered the wolf as Oguchi no Magami, or Large-Mouthed Pure God, but as Japan began its modern transformation wolves lost their otherworldly status and became noxious animals that needed to be killed. By 1905 they had disappeared from the country. In this spirited and absorbing narrative, Brett Walker takes a deep look at the scientific, cultural, and environmental dimensions of wolf extinction in Japan and tracks changing attitudes toward nature through Japan’s long history.

Grain farmers once worshiped wolves at shrines and left food offerings near their dens, beseeching the elusive canine to protect their crops from the sharp hooves and voracious appetites of wild boars and deer. Talismans and charms adorned with images of wolves protected against fire, disease, and other calamities and brought fertility to agrarian communities and to couples hoping to have children. The Ainu people believed that they were born from the union of a wolflike creature and a goddess.

In the eighteenth century, wolves were seen as rabid man-killers in many parts of Japan. Highly ritualized wolf hunts were instigated to cleanse the landscape of what many considered as demons. By the nineteenth century, however, the destruction of wolves had become decidedly unceremonious, as seen on the island of Hokkaido. Through poisoning, hired hunters, and a bounty system, one of the archipelago’s largest carnivores was systematically erased.

The story of wolf extinction exposes the underside of Japan’s modernization. Certain wolf scientists still camp out in Japan to listen for any trace of the elusive canines. The quiet they experience reminds us of the profound silence that awaits all humanity when, as the Japanese priest Kenko taught almost seven centuries ago, we “look on fellow sentient creatures without feeling compassion.””

What do you think? Does this sound like something you’d want to read?

– Moonlight

About the Author
Moonlight (aka Amanda) loves to write about, read about and learn about everything pertaining to werewolves and other supernatural beasties. She writes for top genre sites like Vampires.com and Werewolves.com. You will most likely find her huddled over a book with coffee in hand. You can stalk her via her Twitter.

By moonlight

One of the writers for werewolves.com, as well as vampires.com.

4 replies on “The Lost Wolves of Japan”

It is something I’d read and was very fascinating and informative about how as Japan wanted to modernize and become more “western”, the change that happened in once revering wolves to exterminating them.

Yes, Japan’s modernization is a really fascinating tale. I have never heard of a societies culture changing so drastically in such a short period of time.

I would love to read this book. It also makes me want to find any books that would have information on Japanese wolf gods or Japanese werewolves. I’m kinda cut off from any good book stores here and looking online isn’t always helpful so thank you for putting interesting book selections on your site.

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