Sunday, September 21, 2014

The "Boar"ing Backroads of Okinawa

Driving Okinawa's backroads can be very boring at times. First of all, the island is small so there's not that much of it. Second, the only real countryside worth seeing is in the northern third of the island. Lastly, it's all either impassible jungle covered hills and streams or flat developed areas in which every square inch "centimeter" of it is used by the locals for farming. Wildlife on Okinawa consists of a handful of endangered birds, prey for Okinawa's venomous and infamous Habu, or stinging bugs or other critters that if they're not poisonous to the touch, they can bite like the dickens!

While I've seen signs along the highway posting warnings for "Inushishi" (Wild Boar) the only thing I've ever seen were domesticated pigs that have escaped the surly bonds of Farmer Higa-san's "butagoya" (pig-pen) and gone ferrel. So you can imagine our surprise when driving around Shioyafuji "dake" (mountain) above the Shioya bay, near the old Shah Bay (Ghost Hotel) when we came across this little fella walking straight towards us down the middle of the highway like he didn't have a care in the world! He wasn't very big, about the size of a medium dog and curious as hell. Ryukyu Mike was with me at the time and jumped out of the car, set up his tripod and started shooting away.  He even tried calling it in closer to him and held out his hand like he had a treat for him.

Granted he/she/it (got to be sensitive to what the LGBT folks call themselves these days although in this case I think that G-BLT might be more appropriate) any-who, this fella, whatever-it-was wasn't very big but, I've had the great embarrassment and misfortune of having encountered wild and ferrel hogs in the American south and know how dangerous their American cousins can be regardless of size. This was after all a wild animal and we were about a half hour's drive from the nearest hospital at this point so I stayed true to my chicken-shit self and shot him through the safety of the car's window.

Although he didn't get close enough for Mike to try and catch him and be abused by him in the process, like the poor bastard in the video clip above, he did hang around just long enough for us to snap a few photos before he headed off into the deep brush of the jungle. I was certain that it was a true Inushishi but, just to be sure, we headed off to a local museum and a wild life center just to show some photos and get confirmation of our find.

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