Monday, June 16, 2008

Anaguma (Japanese badger)

This guy was rooting around in my back yard recently. I figured it was a tanuki, a racoon dog, but when I posted the video on another site someone pointed out that it was an Anaguma, a Japanese badger. They are quite similar animals, and Tanuki soup is quite often made with anaguma. It's the same species that is found all over Europe and Asia, Meles meles. They are found all over Japan.

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Anaguma are nocturnal creatures, so it was strange that it was out and about in the middle of the day. They are omnivorous, and it was rooting around one species of plant, so maybe it was going for the roots, maybe for bugs or worms. When I finally moved closer it just sauntered away nonchalantly.

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The name anaguma derives from 2 kanji that mean "hole", and "bear".

We are visited often by creatures from the surrounding forest, usually at night. I caught a Marten going after my chickens, and there was a Civet around for a few weeks. The monkeys haven't been by in a while, though they will surely come once the persimmons ripen. Shimane gets more bear sightings than any other prefecture, but so far none have come into our village. The wild boar will probably raid the gardens once the sweet potatoes and pumpkins are getting fat, though we trapped and ate three of them last autumn, so maybe word has gotten round and they will leave us alone this year.


  1. Very cool creature... I'm not sure we have badgers in Canada... probably the beavers ate them... B-).... nice to see you here...

  2. Thanks for the cool post and video! I was reading A.B. Mitford's "Tales of Old Japan" and came across the "Japanese badger" in some folktales. "Surely, it must be tanukis that he is writing about," I thought. Nope. Thank you kind sir for the clarification.

  3. There is a lot of "crossover" with both animals and their names in different regions.

  4. I think most references to Japanese "badgers" (or "raccoon dogs") are to tanuki, which is actually a species of canid (or dog).

    By the way, I saw one of these guys - anaguma (true badger) - for the first time last Sunday night in Tokyo, near Ueno. It is not very quick.

  5. Are these badgers known to kill small pets?
    Say, a cat. Our family have two stray cats at our cabin, they call our cabin there home. One morning I found one of the cat dead. I happen to see what I thought a tanuki hanging out nearby .On close inspection of the corpes; there were many small puncture wounds on the knecks face and thigh. There must been quite a fight. Maybe it might of been territorial.we often see tanuki's around especially looking for scraps after our bbq but they never seem to mind the cats nor quarrel vice versa.
    Just the other day while working in the yard; I saw one just strolling 10 meters by me and went under the cabin craw space. Could I have found the culprit.MMmm..have tried anaguma know any good recipe?? lol..pls be discrete about the nabe part, gaijin to gaijin, not to give the police a reason to deport me.
    On a different subject. You've traped 3 boars @ your place and ate them. how does that work. are you a legal gun owner in japan? If you trap it,do you slaughter them yourself? I also have boars rooting up our sweet potatoes and devouring all our pumkins too. Oh.. I'm in Gifu.

  6. When I wrote "we" I was referring to my village. My neighbor has the trap. A local hunter is called in to shoot it....

  7. Isn't another japanese word for badger "mujina (むじな)"?
    because I read that "Mujina (むじな)" can mean either badger or raccoon dog (or maybe both).

  8. Also, can badgers be shapeshifters like Tanuki (raccoon dogs)?
    Because if Mujina can mean badgers, then badgers can be shapeshifters as well as raccoon dogs (tanuki). Also, some Japanese folklore stories include mujina with tanuki.

  9. different areas of japan have different names for things. In many places tanuki and badgers are interchangeable, so yes to your questions