Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Japanese Wolves

Wolves were common in Japan until the end of the 19th century. There were two kinds: the Japanese wolf, which ranged across Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku; and the Ainu wolf, which ranged across Hokkaido and was revered by the Ainu as a howling God. Both kinds of wolf are now extinct.

Japanese wolves were smaller than wolves found on the Asian mainland. They sometimes had yellow fur and tails with rounded tips. Their main prey was deer. Most scientists regard them as a subspecies of wolf found in Eurasia and North America. Others regarded them as a completely different species.

Wolves were never vilified in children's stories in Japan like they were in the West. In fact wolves were deeply revered. Shinto shrines sometimes featured them a guardian gods, farmers worshiped them as deities and gamblers carried wolf fangs for good luck. People who lived in the mountains where wolves were most often seen called the animals “mountain dogs.” Many of these people worshiped wolf spirits as protectors of crops from hares, deer and other pests.

Source: Wikipedia


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