The pictures in this blog are not mine and I do not claim to own them, they are not intended for infringement in any way.
In this blog, we travel to 1915’s Japan and look at various incidents that have a Brown Bear kill many people, spreading panic and fear to all in the area that it awoke in, causing it to be the worst bear attack in Japanese History. The main attacks occurred between the 9th and the 14th of December 1915
This was back when Japan was made up of many small farming communities, way before all the Anime, Manga and technology that we all know it for today. On a cold November morning, an 800 pound Ussuri Brown Bear emerged from woods at a little village called Sankebetsu Rokusen-sawa at the Ikeda household. It’s first sighter was not human but the family Horse that became spooked by the sight of the giant Bear which in the end only ended up taking some corn with it, doesn’t sound like a massacre, now does it? well the Bear was not done with the household just yet as it re emerged a few days later and again afterwards and fearing the creature, the Ikea Family decided to defend themselves and shot at the creature when it appeared once again at the end of the month.
The creature was injured by this assault but the Ikea family failed to kill the Bear as it fled. They pursued the Bear the next day as they found it’s footsteps, however along the way, a snowstorm started and forced the family to turn back, although they found bloodstains along the trail, they believed that having being injured by humans, the bear would be afraid of them and would not attack again…this would be a massive mistake.
9th December 1915
Weeks later, in December, the Giant Bear attacked another household, this time it was the Ōta family that would have to fight it. The men of the village would always leave the house early to do errands as the villages required on manpower, This family at the house of the time of the attack consisted of Abe Mayu who was the farmer’s wife and Hasumi Mikio who was a little baby being taken care of by Mayu.
The Bear has been speculated to have accidentally knocked down the wall to the house whilst trying to take some more corn. As the occupants of the house screamed in fear, the Bear attacked without remorse and it bit the baby on it’s head and killed instantly! The wife tried to fight back, it is said that she threw firewood at the animal before trying to escape. The bear, overtook, overpowered, attacked and forcibly dragged the terrified wife into the nearby forest. Nagamatsu Youkichi (長松要吉), nicknamed Odo(オド), a lumber･jack and boarder at the house, discovered the tragedy when he returned to the house for his lunch break. Hearing the news of the Bears onslaught the other men, who were building an ice bridge over the Sankebetsu river, ran to the scene immediately, and were deeply shocked by what they saw which was said to have been a blood bath. The villagers congregated at the Miyoke family’s house which is located near the lower part of the river to decide on a course of action. After the discussion, Saitō Ishigorō undertook the role of contacting public officers and the police, Yasutarō, a head of Miyoke family, took on the role of contacting the Hasumi family, the parents of Mikio. As a guest of the Miyoke family, Odo took a role of sojourn there.
10th December 1915
Early in the morning, Saitō Ishigorō and Miyoke Yasutarō left the village in order to do their respective errands. While they did this, a search party with thirty men came about in order to capture the dangerous Brown Bear. they entered the woods and managed 150 meters before they came across the Bear. Five of the men shot at the bear, only problem being was that they were terrible shots, only one of them was able to hit the Bear! but the animal was able to escape. Despite another look of the neighborhood, they were unable to locate the animal! but as they discovered some blood in the snow, they were able to find the dismembered head and legs of Mayu! it had preserved the body of Mayu in order to preserve it as well as hide it from scavengers, likely to return later to eat it. What this meant was that the Bear had a taste of Human meat, it was now a man eater! The villagers were now reassured that because the Bear had a taste for Human Flesh, it would defiantly be back for more in the near future.
Later in the evening, around 8…the Bear reappeared in the village, only this time, the villagers were prepared with guns but they were still scared by the Bear. One man was able to shoot the Bear which caused it to retreat. It ran away, all the way to another household. This time, it attacked the Miyoke Household
Miyake Yasutarō’s wife was preparing a late night snack and carrying her son Yoshio on her back, heard something at the back. At the same time, Yayo was surprised at a rumble of the ground and a raised voice, the brown bear broke a window and thrust into the house. It became dark as the cauldron in the house was turned over. Yayo tried to run away to outdoors, but was clung to Yūjirō, the second son, and fell down. The brown bear attacked her and bit Umekichi who was carried by her. Odo was the only one able to defend them but The bear then noticed Odo, who ran for the door step. The bear then left the mother and child. In the moment Yayo could escape there with her children. Odo who was pursued by the bear tried to hide in the furniture, but he could not escape and was scratched on the lower back by the bear’s claws, which was life threatening. The bear then beat Kinzō , the third son of Miyoke family, and Haruo, the forth son of Saito family, to death in a blow, and bit Iwao , third son of Saitō family, and beat down him on the floor. In the situation, Take who was Saitō Ishigorō’s wife was found and targeted by him. For approaching him, she make suit as
“Please help only a baby in my stomach, please, please,…Oh…no…no…Ah…Ah…Come on…Go away…”
or so it is reported, whether that actually was said, we may never know but he didn’t accept her pleading, well what do you expect, it’s a bear! it mercilessly attacked her, and then would begin to eat her from the upper half of body, how lovely!
The subduing corps that were coming from the farm went downstream, guessed at the strange atmosphere and hurried to the household. Seriously injured Yayo arrived there as quickly as he could, and informed everyone about the incident at Miyoke family’s house, the carnage must have been horrifying to hear. The subduing corps protected Odo and rolled up the Miyoke family’s house. But they could not carelessly step into the darkness in the house. From it, they heard the groan of the what appeared to be Take, and then just quiet. Then they heard the bear eating meat and crunching bone. They thought all men were killed then should set fire to the house, but Yayo hoping the children were alive, opposed this action in the small chance that someone would still be alive.
The subduing corps divided into two group, one, which consisted of ten hunters stood guard at the door, and the other group went to the backside of the house. In the sign of the blank, the person who moved around to the back shouted and threatened a Bear. As expected, the creature appeared in front of the men who waited at the front door of the house. The man who was at the head tried shoot but it was miss fire again, that would happen a lot in this. The bear fled at this moment and left the house.
They then cautiously entered Miyoke family house, and death all about them. There were spread all about them, a sea of the blood spilled by the innocent, and two cruelly bitten babies and the corpse of Take all about dead . They were shocked saw cruel sight, and remained only the men who campaigned to the Russo-Japanese War. The stomach of Take who was bitten in the upper part of body, was torn and the a fetus was dragged out, okay, that’s just gruesome…what a naughty Bear! but strange to say the bear not chomped him, and the fetus moved about! Ok, that’s disturbing! Iwao bitten by the bear was severely-diseased but lived. It was thought that the fact that Rikizo, first son of Miyoke family and Hisano , the first daughter of the same relatives, were without moving, made good, they are alive. All village peoples gathered in branch school, and seriously-injured persons were accommodated in Tsuji family house where located in the lower part of river. Nevertheless Iwao who bitten by the bear, was breathless. In two days six people’s lives were robbed. Seven lives were robbed when including a fetus.
11th December 1915
Miyoke and Saito returned to the village at this time and joined the group in the effort to capture and kill the bear, however, the Bear did not return to the village on this day…a chance to come up with a plan was given to the villagers, what they would decide on what to do would be vital because the peace would be short lived.
12th December 1915
The news of the bear attacks in Sankebetsu reached the town of Hokkaido and they organized a sniper team to take out the animal and that evening, they traveled to Sankebetsu but the Bear did not appear on this day. They decided that if they were to kill the Bear, they needed to use every resource available as they came to the conclusion that the Bear would return for the corpses of the people it had killed, therefore, although at first condemned, the team decided to use one of the corpses to lure the Bear in, it was the best plan so the village would be saved.
13th December 1915
As morning came, a search team discovered that the Ōta household had been ransacked! all the winter food supplies had been stolen…I wonder who did that? 8 houses had been badly damaged but no one could find the Bear (clever creature) by now they had 60 armed men looking for the Bear so they went to search the surrounding mountains! creating an Ice bridge as well in the village as a line of defense, it was here at night time that a sniper spotted a shadow of tree stumps on the opposite shore. The captain Suga called out to it and when he didn’t have a response, ordered the snipers to open fire! the shadow, obviously that of the Bear’s retreated, disappointing the men that it had escaped once again, although it is said that the captain did receive some kind of response when he called out, bit weird, don’t you think?
14th December 1915
Blood and a bear footprint were found in the morning, however imminent snowstorms were threatening to cover any tracks they could find of the Bear, meaning that it was vital to kill it now. A man called Yamamoto set out with a small team to track the Bear, this was done as they thought it’d be faster with a much smaller team than a large one. This was a good idea as Yamamoto was able to spot the bear resting by a Japanese Oak. He fired two shots at the Bear, the first hitting it’s heart and the second, hitting it’s head, fatefully wounding the Bear and it would die. It is said that the reason this all happened was because it had come out of Hibernation early and it was frustrated about it, so went out looking for food.
In the aftermath, Yayo, who was injured on the head mainly, made a full recovery. But Miyoke Umekichi, who was bitten by the bear, as carried by mother, suffered from the effects for two years and eight months and finally dead. Odo recovered from the injury and returned to work, but next spring fell to a river and sadly died.
It was not certain that the wound which was suffered by the brown bear had influenced the accident. A museum is now there that explains the incidents and what happened on the cold nights that a Bear decided to have a taste for flesh.