【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape
In this series, the transformation of four seasons will be introduced through articles on wild animals that are active in the deep forests, marshes, and ocean as if they were being cradled by “Kamui,” which means deity in the Ainu language. The first installment in the series is the Yezo sika deer of Notsuke Peninsula. (Text and photographs by Tadanobu Shigeru from the Kushiro Branch News Secti
【Series】 Spirits of the Kamuy landscape (33) A brown bear and her cubs at ease in the sun
I take a small sightseeing boat from Utoro in the town of Shari at the base of the Shiretoko Peninsula in northeastern Hokkaido. Attracted by the sunlight, a family of bears appear on the Shiretoko coast, where there are no roads.
Two bear cubs that were born in the winter hibernation den and are just a few months old, follow their mother. As the length of stride of the mother bear, which weighs over 100 kg, is different, the cubs break into a trot to keep up with her as she ambles along. Everything the cubs see and touch is new to them. They start to play with rocks and pieces of wood they encounter in the sphere of everyday life.
Having not eaten anything during winter, brown bears eat the buds of soft sprouting plants such as butterbur and skunk cabbage in a bid to restore their energy. As the stalks and leaves grow and harden, they become more difficult to digest, but until then the bear’s diet is plant based. The cubs grow bigger on their mother’s milk.
Cubs spend more than one year with the mother bear. In winter, they enter the den to hibernate together and wait for spring.
(Words and photo: Shigeru Tadanobu)