Tokyo bears

It was the scariest night of my life.  I was curled up in my sleeping bag in a one-man tent, on the edge of a forest in the hills of Hokkaido.  Outside it was pitch black and eerily quiet.  The only sound I could hear was the scraping of bear claws.  The beasts of the north, lurking in the woods, were sensing a greasy dinner.

This bear at Tama zoo yesterday was kind enough to glare at me, consequently destroying my sleep routine for the next six months.

To scare the bears off, I tried singing; it`s an effective tactic with humans.  Unfortunately, singing and sleeping are difficult activities to combine.  

Unable to bear the tension, at 2:30am I packed up my tent and pedaled furiously for 60km before passing out exhausted on a roadside bus-stop.  

I needed to show bears more respect, preferably from within inhabited and sturdy buildings.  That was my first and only night of camping in the woods of Hokkaido.

That nightmare was 5 years ago.  I now live in Tokyo, a city of 13 million people crammed together, a command centre of the world economy, with a modern public transport system to match.  You would not think bears could make a life for themselves here.

I discovered yesterday I was terribly wrong.  Wild bears live in Tokyo.  Alright, they don`t commute in on the Chuo line wearing heavy business suits and getting pissed in the evening with their work-colleagues, which is a shame. 

The bears make their living in the hills in the outer-suburbs.  Adjust your travel plans accordingly.  Attacks are rare, but not unheard of.

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