Photo: iStock/Kagenmi

8 deadly animals living in Japan

By Alexandra Ziminski

Japan is considered one of the safest countries globally and Tokyo one of the safest cities. But if you are brave enough to traverse into the wilds of the country, who knows what terrifying creatures you will meet—and I’m not talking about the ghosts and ghouls of legends. 

Japan’s various climates bring beasts from the wintery north, slithering serpents hiding in the Okinawan shade and summer bugs that haunt our dreams like the mukade (giant centipede). We will look at the deadly, the destructive and the animals that could kill you. 

Disclaimer: The irony of this list is that humans are, without a doubt, the deadliest animals of all. Whether that's our infrastructure encroaching on habitats, making wine out of snakes, bear meat on the black market or our waste affecting food sources. 

1. Bears

Photo: iStock: azuki25

Japan’s largest wild mammal comes in two colors: the Ussuri (or Ezo) brown bear and the Asian black bear. Native to Hokkaido, the Ussuri brown bear is considered the most ferocious of the pair. This bear (kuma in Japanese) species was responsible for the deadliest bear attack in Japanese history, the 1915 Sankebetsu brown bear incident, where seven people were killed. 

Their great size and strength make them deadly opponents. Over a century later, the bear’s increasing population hasn’t stopped leading to a correlating rise in attacks, despite charitable efforts.

The Asian black bear tends to keep to the mountainous areas of Honshu and—less commonly—Shikoku. Shier (and smaller) than their brown brothers, attacks and sightings are less likely. But as food becomes scarcer, encounters between villagers and bears rise, especially in the months before hibernation.


  • Be loud. Wear a bear bell and make your presence known
  • If spotted, back away slowly
  • If attacked, fall to the ground and protect your head and neck


  • Leave garbage and food around
  • Go off-trail
  • If faced with a bear, do not run

2. Wild boars

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

If attacked, fall to the ground and protect your head and neck

If faced with a bear, do not run

Even if I recall these when attacked, seem impossible to do

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I hate those "bear" bells. People use them everywhere, even in hikes at Fuji.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

garth - re bear bells - I asked some hiker/walkers near my house (forested area) why they wore them because there are no bears here for 100s kms.

One said we like the "friendly/cheerful" sound, it makes us happy and another said it was to scare off wild boars(a few here & there)

I said "Oh - ok".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I live in north Chiba & have mamushi, Yamakagashi(these are BOTH venomous & poisonous, very cool!), as well as ticks(pick them off our cats) & several types of suzumebachi frequent my yard & often see all these critters elsewhere nearby.

While technically they are all dangerous, if you use common sense there is very little risk, mamushi frequent my small ponds at night mostly & I even had a nest of suzumebachi in one of my woodpiles, was cool when I used the wood come winter & to see how they wove their nest amongst the logs

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A tick is an animal?????Okayyyyyyy....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Ran across a Mamushi last summer under some wood sitting outside. Never seen one before but one look and you could tell it was dangerous. Larger head and body, looked like a diamond back, and didn’t back down. I wonder if they’re delicious too?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jessie Lee

A tick is an animal?????Okayyyyyyy....

Obviously !!! Do you to think it's a vegetal ? Mineral ? Fungus ? Or a type of unicellular ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites