All above videos are from Japan. As you can see, even if you make noise, the bear would not really care (until you throw some fire crackers..).


As a human, we are not scared of too many animals. But we are still aware of some animals which can be quite dangerous and we need to be careful with.


One of the last animals we want to meet in wild is a bear.


Bears are cute, some are being endangered and not dangerous to the human being normally. In a certain environment such as a mother bear wants to protect their cubs.

Are there bears in Japan?

Japan is known as a safe country. Yes, it is a safe place "relatively" comparing with many other countries. But as Japanese, Onegai Kaeru team is not fully sure if this is that safe. Low crime rate? Yes, but there are many crimes in Japan.


From the other perspective, Japan has many dangerous animals which can kill us. Esp. in mountains there  are many animals you need to watch out for. We have poisonous snakes (in mountains in many areas of Japan and beside that, in the sea in Okinawa!), big wasps, wild hogs...


Some Onegai Kaeru users asked us if there are bears in Japan? The answer is YES!

And there are so many bear encounters in Japan

There are so many bear encounters in Japan. Many prefectures provide the information where bears have been found, encountered etc.


The issue is that you need to check each prefecture website to find the info. What makes it even harder to get the information is that these info is almost always in PDF file (need to click and download...sigh ) and in Japanese. But you can use google translate.


For example, you see the bear information (besides wild pig encounter) web from Niigata prefecture as below.

See how many bear encounters are ! Source: Niigata prefecture
See how many bear encounters are ! Source: Niigata prefecture

Type of bear you may see in Japan

Brown bear or Higuma Source: wikipedia
Brown bear or Higuma Source: wikipedia

So what type of bear do you possibly see in Japan?


There are two types of bear in Japan. Both have been reported that they attack people.


"Brown bear or Higuma" in Hokkaido can be big as 2.5-3m. 55% of the Hokkaido land is said to accommodate these bears. There are many cases where the bears attacked and killed people in Hokkaido. One of the most famous is this Sankebetsu bear attack incident in 1915 where a big bear as heavy as 340kg and as big as 2.7m killed 7 locals. 


3m bear...wow. If you want to see a lot brown bears in cage, there is a bear park (Kuma bokujo) in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido.


"Asian Black bears or Tsukinowa-guma " live on the main island (Honshu) and Shikoku island which are usually as big as 1.2-1.8m. 45% of the Honshu island has bears. There are also cases of attacks. Even in Tokyo, if you go deep in mountains such as Okutama area, you may meet the bears.

Asian black bear or Tsukinowaguma Source: wikipedia
Asian black bear or Tsukinowaguma Source: wikipedia

More bears seen

Since 2000 we see more bears.


It is because due to the climate change the foods for bears is more scarce. Bears usually eat the nuts (and fishes in Hokkaido) not too much animals.

But bears can eat meats too when hungry and no other food.  Bears know there are food near humans.


Before the hibernation, they need to eat a lot to prepare for the long sleep in winter. 


Some people even feed the bears which is quite bad because these bears get curious about humans and then want to approach humans to get more food. This increases the chance of bear encounter in general.


It seems more and more normal that you encounter bears(as well as wild pigs which are also dangerous) in many parts of Japan.

What to do if you ENCOUNTER bear

What should you do when you meet a beer on your way. Old story: we were told to pretend dead. But this does not seem so right.


Or...we put a bear repellent bell (kumayoke no suzu). When hiking in Japan, you see many people with some bells. These are for bears. This is quite popular in Japan yet this may NOT work that well because we heard some cases the person with the repellent bell was attacked and killed by a bear. In one case in Akita, 2017 one woman who got into a mountain to get bamboo shoots was killed by a bear. She had SEVERAL bear repellent bells.

This may mean the bell sort of informs a bear about a "potential food" or the bear can get curious about the sound and may come to see what it is?? Some expert says the bears are not afraid of the bell sound any longer.


You can also have a bear repellent spray ( we wonder how close we have to be to give the shot to the bear in practice!).


What we heard from some local people who saw bears in mountains in Japan. Here are the rules when you see them ( NO guarantee though!! ).


1) do not make noise (do not try to scare the bear as it may attack when it is in panic)

2) do not turn your back to the bear (esp. when the bear notices you)

3) do not turn your eyes away from the bear

4) while looking into the bear eyes, you go backward slowly ( you do not run)

5) Be in a group of people (a bear attacks when you are alone/you look vulnerable)  [we get into this in the below section]

6) [ before you meet the bear] while you walking you turn a radio or talk loud to inform the bear so that it does not come even near [we get into this in the below section], and

7) ( after you are clear of danger ) inform the local about the case and let others know about it


THIS IS JUST WHAT WE HEARD.  NOTE that this tactic may NOT work!! Luckily we have not met any bear in wild  and did not need to try to see if works yet!! We hope we will not need to ever...

When you are attacked by bear...

When you are attacked by the bear...which should not happen but could happen in the unlucky case, the Gifu prefecture (one of the prefectures with many bears where we hiked in the past) government recommend:


Cover your vulnerable and critical body parts such as face, neck, back of your head, abdomen area with your bag or something as much as possible. 

CONTACT the local government or police

avoid encounter...

So these above are the example of what you can do when you actually encounter the bear. The local governments in the "bear area" recommend you should try your best not to encounter bears.


  • You bring something to make noise such as radio, bell, or smartphone to play music. (this is when you do not see them! When you encounter the bear, you do not make noise!)
  • You do not go into the bear area alone. You go in with one or more partners.
  • When you find a fresh/new bear poo, you must return the way
  • Do not leave any food behind in mountains (so that the bears do not enjoy the taste of something human produces)


Safest way

There are several ways to avoid bears but in the end bears are wild animals and we can not understand them fully. None of our countermeasures could work.


The safest way to avoid the bear is not to go into the mountains with the risk of bear encounter.


Before/during you go for hiking, you check with the local city office about the bear by tel. or mail.  And also you always talk to some locals (personnel in a cafe, restaurant, gift shop, hotel or so) about the bear (or any other kind of) dangers in the mountains. This is what we do always.

save bears

When it is considered the bear is a threat to the community, it is not rare that the government hires the local hunter to kill the bear. Not only in Japan but also in many parts of the world. Esp. when the bear attacks human, the government will find the bear and shoot to kill.


Keep this in mind that when we try to avoid the encounter with bear, it means we also save the bears. 


Onegai Kaeru wants you to enjoy Japan trip.


If you are looking for more traveler"s info and can not find one, please let us know. We will try to help you with Japan Traveler Help Service (we help you make the travel plan, arrange, book, find info you need). Feel free to contact us!


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Source: Wikipedia, WWF Japan


Disclaimer: Even though we try to make the info as updated and accurate but the accuracy of the information herein is not guaranteed by us. If you have any uncertainty, please contact the information source.

Comments: 8
  • #8

    Edd (Thursday, 05 October 2023 10:44)

    Hey Chibi

    Todays BBC

    A couple killed in a bear attack at Canada's Banff National Park have been identified by family as long-term partners who loved the outdoors.

    “Two cans of bear spray were found at the scene”, they added, and the couple's food was hung appropriately.


  • #7

    Taro (Wednesday, 04 October 2023 13:11)

    Bears Prefer Peace and Quiet: Bears have incredible hearing, and they enjoy tranquility. They tend to shy away from noisy disturbances like construction sounds, loud music, or shouting. For their peace of mind, bears often retreat to calmer areas away from disturbances.

    Bears Cherish Their Space: Bears are naturally cautious around humans and usually avoid close encounters. They steer clear of places bustling with people. When bears do come across humans, they often prefer to retreat, valuing their personal space. Bears are typically solitary creatures, and they like to keep their distance from humans.

    Bears Trust Their Nose: Bears rely on their exceptional sense of smell to find food and detect potential dangers. They are careful about unfamiliar scents, especially those linked to humans or predators. Bears might avoid areas with strange smells to stay safe and minimize the risk of encountering potential threats.

    Remember, while these observations reflect general bear behavior, individual bears can vary in their responses based on their unique experiences and situations.

    Stay safe!

  • #6

    Tokyoo Ronin (Tuesday, 03 October 2023 21:27)


    There is NO such a thing like "100%"!

  • #5

    Chibi (Tuesday, 03 October 2023)

    Guys, just buy bear repellent spray in Japan, it is 100% effective, it is effective already from 3-4 meter and the bear will never come to you again, as it works like pepper spray. It also works against other wild animals. Their eyes and nose get so irritated the bears can do nothing when the spray hits their head, they run away confused. Check youtube video how to use such spray.

  • #4

    Pazuma (Friday, 06 March 2020 04:55)

    I will move to Hokkaido for work soon from Tokyo. So i think its good to have a dog for protecting against bears.
    Hope my family and me will never meet some bears.

  • #3

    Joe (Wednesday, 17 July 2019 00:06)

    Patrick died by bear last year :(

  • #2

    onegai kaeru team (Thursday, 27 June 2019 16:58)

    Hi Patrick,

    Thank you for the comments!

    Have you met bears?

    K team

  • #1

    Patrick (Thursday, 27 June 2019 16:24)

    Point 1 and 3 are wrong.

    You should make noise but don't look them directly in the eye.