Japan is known for many things, including its delicious sushi, crazy fashion trends that just might blow your mind, measured tea ceremonies, and purposeful flower arranging. The five main islands of the country are also home to some deadly and feared creations of nature. From those that glide slyly on forest floors, to those that strike in the ocean, Japan’s deadly animals are definitely best appreciated from a distance. If left alone, these animals will probably never harm you. It is only when they feel threatened that they strike and that might not be good for you.
10. Puffer Fish
This Japanese delicacy may also be your last meal. The pufferfish-or fugu in Japanese- is a deadly animal that can actually strike humans after it has died. This fish contains tetrodotoxin that is toxic for humans to consume. According to National Geographic, there is enough toxin in just one pufferfish to annihilate thirty adult humans. Because of this, chefs must adhere to strict rules when preparing a pufferfish to be eaten.
9. Asian Hornet
The Asian hornet is getting a lot of press lately. It has arrived on North American soil for the first time, and people fear it may become an invasive species as it can kill up to 30,000 bees in an hour. Efforts are underway to control it in the US, but if you should visit Japan, be forewarned. The Asian hornet’s sting is said to feel like a “red hot fire poker” being being jammed into you. The good news is that it does not live up to its nick name as a “murder hornet.” This creature can kill you, but that is only if you are known to have an anaphylactic reaction to bees, and so it is rare. According to some reports, wasp and hornet stings combined killed less than 13 people between 2017 and 2018 in Japan.
8. Asiatic Black Bear
Like other bears, the Asiatic black bear, which is critically endangered but still around, has been known to attack and kill humans. This can happen if a bear feels threatened or if their food supply is endangered, causing them to go hungry. In 2016, four people in a mountainous area of Northern Japan on the island of Honshu were mauled to death when out gathering wild plants to eat. Instead, they became the food for this fearsome beast.
7. Ussuri Brown Bears
The ussuri brown bear of Japan looks a bit like a grizzly bear, and can act like one. It is sometimes actually called a black grizzly and it lives in Russia, China, the Korean Peninsula, and Japan. It has been known to kill humans on some occasions, and one of their kind was responsible for the worst bear attack in Japanese history. The ussuri bear allegedly killed seven people in the village of Tomamae.
6. Japanese Mamushi
This venomous snake can be powerful. It is found in a variety of habitats in Japan including meadows, woodlands, marshes, and swamps, among others.
Many people live to survive this snake’s bite but it can be deadly. It causes your tissues to liquify and can lead to skin necrosis. A mamushi bite can also cause things like muscle degeneration and visual disturbances, and so it is best left alone.
5. Japanese Wild Boar
You might think this is just a pig, but you would be wrong. Wild boars can kill a human who gets too close, stabbing them to death with their tusks. These innocent-looking animals are no Wilbur, and they can be found in Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu in Japan.
4. The Habu
The habu is another venomous Japanese snake. It is a pit viper found in Japan's Ryukyu Islands. Its poison destroys red blood cells and kills off human tissues, disabling its victims in one bite. You are not likely to die of a habu bite, but you will not forget about it, if one should strike you.
3. Redback Spiders
These spiders were first spotted in Tokyo, Japan in 2014, as a species brought in from Australia on cargo ships. They can bite, causing a list of symptoms, including the possibility of death. It is uncommon for a human to die of a redback spider bite, but it does happen. Other symptoms can include nausea, agitation, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, sweating, and hypertension, to name a few.
2. Japanese Mountain Leech
You are unlikely to die from an attacking mountain leech, but if there are enough of them sucking your blood at once, it could happen.
The Japanese mountain leech, also called yamaburi, are said to be quiet biters that victims do not always realize are sucking their blood. They can grow five to ten times their original size in just one hour, and leave their victims with bloodied socks.
1. Japanese Keelback Snake
This snake’s venom is said to be worse than the mamushi’s. Also known as the kamikomu, the Japanese keelback snake has few deaths recorded in its name but it can strike. Most often this venomous colubrid displays other behaviors besides attacking its prey with its mouth in order to survive, but it does have fangs in the back of its mouth that can do some damage, if disturbed.
About the Author
A prior educator with a background in the arts, Victoria Simpson has a passion for communicating her ideas through writing. You can find her picture book, Eating I Forget, on Amazon. Her articles and webcopy have been published on countless websites including RateMDs.com, Autoguide, eBay, Digital Home and Iremia Skincare, among others. She is now excited to be contributing to World Atlas.
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