Boar warning sign close-up

Boar Warning!!

Boar warning sign

Inoshishi shutsubotsu chuui!! Boar Warning!! We don’t usually have signs with double exclamation marks in America, do we?

When studying abroad, unfamiliar sounds, sights and smells make you hyper-aware that you are in a foreign ecosystem. Like an itchy clothes tag, it takes a while to stop thinking, “Oh yeah, I’m really in Japan,” every time you hear the uguisu Japanese bush warbler, gawk at weird bugs on your dorm window screen, and catch whiffs of sulfur from natural hot springs. The uguisu was my number one alarm that I wasn’t in California anymore. I’ve heard it many times in anime paired with the sound of bamboo fountains (Shishi-odoshi or souzu, “scare the deer” fountains). Next to Japanese cicadas, it is my favorite iconic sound of Japan. Asking the names of unfamiliar animals and sources of sounds you hear is a nice conversation starter.

For some reason the “Boar Warning” signs posted near the woods struck me as bizarre and funny, mostly because I didn’t expect them. Wild boars seem like a very exotic type of pest. Ever since I saw the sign, I was very excited about seeing a real boar. Unfortunately, they never made an appearance around the campus. I was hoping one would suddenly burst from the bamboo (so long as I was at a safe distance), but no such luck. I suppose they were burrowed deep inside the surrounding forests. In Japanese they are called inoshishi, as you can see written on the sign in katakana.

Japanese bugs—at least in Kyuushuu—are much more colorful than what I normally see in California. My friend Rose Clement took most of these photos. If anyone can tell me what the unnamed critters are, I’d be grateful. The praying mantis and walking stick are the only ones I can recognize.



  1. I liked your description of the sounds and scents, something understandably overlooked in photographs.

    I’m just curious, but have you played any video games in Japanese, and can you understand them? One major benefit of learning Japanese for me would be being able to understand all of the games never translated to English.

    I’d really like to visit Japan sometime.



    1. Thank you! I know intermediate level Japanese, although I’m very out of practice. The problem with playing games in Japanese is that they don’t offer furigana, alphabet translations of chinese characters (kanji), and I don’t know many kanji. Unfortunately you can’t select and copy text from a game to put it in a translator. I’ve played quite a few translated games, like Witch’s House, Ib, Mad Father, etc.

      I can understand quite a bit of anime as long as it’s simple conversational Japanese. It’s wonderful because many catchphrases of characters sound better in Japanese (for example Black Butler’s “I’m one hell of a butler”, which isn’t funny in English, but is ironic in Japanese: “Akuma de mo shitsuji desu” can be read as both “I am a butler through and through” and “I am a demon and a butler”)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve heard of Witch’s House I believe, but not the others. The names alone sound really Japanese. I’ve played through a bit of rom translations, the last one being Mother 3, though sadly I accidentally deleted that save before finishing.


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