Wild Boar (inoshishi)


Wild Boar (inoshishi, Japan)

***** Location: Japan, other regions
***** Season: Late Autumn
***** Category: Animal


The ancestor of the farmer's pig, this wild one roams the forests of all of Japan, excluding Hokkaido, so they say. It sleeps during the daytime and comes out the feed in the evening. It likes small animals like mice, earthworms and river crabs, but also feeds on rice and other grains, fruit and nuts. The farmers of course do not like to share their rice harvest with the wild boars. Smile at the story of old Basho and his fellow farmers below, not much different from my life in the mountains here !

Nowadays, all rice fields in my area are sourrounded by electric fences or metal fences. But since the boars easily jump more than one meter, it does not help much. After the typhoon in September 2005, we have them as twighlight visitors on the fields around the home and spend supper listening to them shoving through the nearby bamboo grove, making eerie sounds as they waddle past.

During the Edo period, poor country people started eating the meat of this "whale of the forest" and called the meat peony (botan). The meat of deer was maple leaf (momiji) and that of the horses was called cherry blossoms (sakura). Thus the pious Buddhists could pretend to eat vegetarian. The raw meat is arranged on the plate to look like a peony flower, see below. It is then put in a broth and boiled together with vegetables.

I remember a "Wild boar party" when our local hunter had shot one animal and invited all the neighbourhood to participate in its decimation. The carcass was placed on his pickup truck in the garden and everyone could cut his favorite piece, eat it raw with garlic (sashimi), boil it to stew in a large pot or eat it in noodle soup, barbeque it or whatever. The taste of raw wild boar bacon was quite delicious ! By the time all had eaten for 6 hours or more, not much than the tail was left of the animal. Even the bones had disappeared in some stomach. And the whole boiled head was a special delicacy, with eyeballs and all eaten...

Gabi Greve, September 2005

Uribo Baby Boar and his Mother
by Mondo Takagaki, my friend

Bizenyaki―Bizen Pottery - 備前焼


Other Japanese kigo with this animal:

wild boar, inoshishi, Sus scrofa いのしし、猪
..... yacho 野猪, shishi 猪
baby boar, uribo 瓜坊 (means melon boy)
whale of the mountain forest, yamakujira 山鯨

watch keeper against the boars, shishi ban 猪番
path of the boars, shishi michi 猪道
fence against the boars, shishigaki 猪垣
trap to catch boars, shishi wana 猪罠

. shishigaki 猪垣 walls and fences.
- and shishiana 猪穴 holes


hunting for boars, shishkari 猪狩 
kigo for all winter

meat of the wild boar, shishi niku 猪肉
wild boar stew, shishinabe 猪鍋、(kigo for winter)
..... peony stew 牡丹鍋
WASHOKU ... Meat from the Mountains  

. inoshishi 猪 wild boar 2013 .
Inoshishi Curry and Deer Curry

. momonjiya ももんじ屋 ・百獣屋 in Edo
selling meat "from one-hundred wild animals" .

With a shop sign of the yamakujira 山くじら wild boar.
(the whale of the mountain)

Utagawa Hiroshige

bridge Bikunibashi in snow びくにはし雪中 / 比丘尼橋
. Edo no hashi 江戸の橋 the bridges of Edo .


Genjuan no ki 幻住庵記 ( The Hut of the Phantom Dwelling )
By Matsuo Basho

..... my grass hut.
Mountain home, traveler's rest-call it what you will, it's hardly the kind of place where you need any great store of belongings. A cypress bark hat from Kiso, a sedge rain cape from Koshi-that's all that hang on the post above my pillow. In the daytime, I'm once in a while diverted by people who stop to visit.
The old man who takes care of the shrine or the men from the village come and tell me about the wild boar who's been eating the rice plants, the rabbits that are getting at the bean patches, tales of farm matters that are all quite new to me.

And when the sun has begun to sink behind the rim of the hills, I sit quietly in the evening waiting for the moon so I may have my shadow for company, or light a lamp and discuss right and wrong with my silhouette.

- Genjuuan Ki 幻住庵記 Genju-an Records -
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


At the shrine Mitsumine Jinja in Japan they sell a talisman against the damage of wild boars and deer to the crops. It is in the form of a wolf.
Read an article by Gabi Greve about

Japanese Wolf Worship
....... at . Mitsumine Shrine .

The white wild boar 白猪 (shirai, shira-i) is a messenger of the fire deity.

. Fire Deity and shrine Atago Jinja .


Quote by Texasboars:
Here's the Inoshishi of Japan aka Yamakujira. Inoshishi translates "lion of Ino", and Yamakujira translates "mountain whale". Both names reflect the Japanese view of these creatures as being large and fierce. My son took these pics in downtown Kobe while walking to his college.

Wild Boars in Kobe City


December 2010
In many parts of Japan, wild boars are becoming a great nuisance, since the hunters are too few and old (or dead), but the boars thrive in the abandoned fields of remote villages.

heavy snowfall -
his funeral
in black and white

Gabi Greve, 2008

36 wild boar on bicycle

Our neighbour puts out stuffed animals in winter. They are mounted on some bicycle wheels and spin around . . .

Some come close to my own daily walk up to the mailbox. We have put up some pinwheels to distract them, but it seems not effective. They are slowly destroying the steep slopes to the neighbours and between the fields.

Gabi Greve

. Scarecrows, wild boar scares
with more photos of the boar scares.

full moon night -
the carcass of a wild boar
on the road

Gabi Greve, August 2, 2012

Worldwide use





Almost wild pigs at the RiverCauvery, partaking of the offerings to the Gods !

© Photo Johannes Manjrekar

wild pigs -
even the gods have to
share food

Gabi Greve
I saw a similar scene at an offering place in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Things found on the way

Four Choju-giga scrolls (Choojuu Giga 鳥獣戯画)
There is a famous old scroll depicting animals frolicking, mimicking human behaviour.
The Frog in the Manga

One of these paintings, the frog and wild boar


The wild boar is one of the 12 Asian zodiac animals.
kanreki <> the circle of 60 years begins again

2007 is the Year of the Wild Boar 亥.


. - - Matsuo Basho and the Wild Boars - - .

inoshishi mo tomo ni fukaruru nowaki kana

Even a wild boar
With all other things
Blew in this storm.


Written in 1690 元禄3年 - see the Genjuan 幻住庵滞 Genju-An text above.

- - - - -

inoshishi mo toko ni mo iru ya kirigirisu

penetrating even
the lair of a wild boar—
cricket’s cry

Tr. Barnhill

Basho about the snoring of his disciple Shadoo, Shadō 洒堂 Shado
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


twighlight zone -
wild boars harvesting
the fallen rice

Dämmerung -
Wildschweine ernten
den umgefallenen Reis

Read what they did after typhoon Navi in my neighbourhood.
Wild Boars , September 2005,

Gabi Greve


tracks in the snow--
wild boars must have danced here
last night

Gabi Greve (Japan)
from the Yomiuri Shinbun, August 2005

Go-Shichi-Go / Susumu Takiguchi


Wild Boar Stew, a kigo for Winter


牡丹鍋 豊かな森の恵みかな
botan nabe - yutaka na mori no megumi kana

wild boar stew -
the fertile woods bestowing
delicious benefits

... ... ...

牡丹鍋 畑嵐の罰のかな
botan nabe - hatake arashi no batsu no kana

wild boar stew -
devastating the fields
you end up here!

… Botan is the word for Peonia flowers, since the thinly sliced meat of the wild boar is arranged to look like such a flower on a big plate. I wonder how real peonia stew would taste.

Botan Nabe, wild boar stew

Gabi Greve, 2004


und ein Humpen Met -

wild boar roast
and a mug of mead -
pleasures of the old Germans

Gabi Greve


-  day of the wild boar in october -

sotobori ni rin to inoko no kagari kana

by the outer moat
bonfires strong and forceful --
night of the wild boar

Tr. Chris Drake

The hokku is from the 10th month (November) of 1815, when Issa, living in his hometown, is back in greater Edo on a three-month visit. The hokku evokes the night of the first Day of the Wild Boar in the 10th month, the month governed by the wild boar according to Sino-Japanese zodiacal calendrical thought.

On this day people of all classes eat special rice cakes believed to increase fertility and protect against disease. They also light hearths, ovens, leg and hand warmers, and other fires for winter and spring use. Edo castle uses the occasion to display of its power and magnificence by lighting large, bright bonfires in iron baskets hanging at key points in and around the castle and at the gates in the wall at the inner ends of two bridges that cross the outer moat. On a practical level, the bonfires are used to light the way for daimyo domain lords and shogunal officials who live outside the moat as they arrive at around sundown to attend an obligatory celebration in the castle on the night of the first Day of the Wild Boar.

All daimyo lords and shogunal officials, including those who live inside the outer moat, are required to attend this celebration, during which they symbolically acknowledge their subservience and pledge once more their fealty to the shogun by accepting fancy rice cakes made from newly harvested rice. The lords and officials and their men are in their most formal clothes and closely follow strict protocol as they go through the gate. Both the lords and the hanging bonfires are imposing, yet there is something utterly serious and as cold as the November night about the whole scene. Issa, who must be standing outside the outer moat, seems to realize that the bonfires are as much for spectacle and for use in identifying each attendee at this mandatory event as they are for simple illumination and that this gravitas and well-lit formal precision are a consciously used image of power itself.

Chris Drake

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .

Boar, the Twelfth Month
Ishikawa Toyomasa 石川豊雅 (act. 1770–1790)

Related words

***** Wolf (ookami) Japan

***** Farmers work in Autumn

***** . Whale, whales (kujira)  Japan


WASHOKU ... Meat from the Mountains  




Anonymous said...

2006, December

Gabi, I enjoyed reading about the wild boars.
I wonder how much information, photos, pearls.. you have collected in your lovely sites.

Hope, it's going to be a year of the lamb.

christmas eve-
wild boars' roaring through
the far shadows

Happy new year.


Unknown said...

Gabi san,


Gabi Greve said...

... 2007, the Year of the Wild Boar
亥 猪 .

Some call it "Year of the Pig", but that would be BUTA 豚.


Anonymous said...

new year---
more hunters are looking
for fewer boars

Fred Masarani


Anonymous said...

It was fun to read the whole page about the boars, as well as the links. You are doing a great job, Gabi, thus edicating me.

Zhanna :)

Gabi Greve said...

Wild Boar DARUMA DOLL for 2007


Anonymous said...

shishi ou ya susuki o hashiru yoru no koe

boar hunt--
swiftly through the pampas grass
evening shouts

Issa, trans. David Lanoue

Chasing a boar
through the pampas grasses--
voices of the night

trans. Stephen Addiss

.......................... My haiku:

chasing a boar--
the hunter's voice carried off
by the winter wind

Anonymous said...

Nice collection you have here, Gabi san! May I add our haiga from a haiga collaboration party in my Live Journal, with a haiku contest on the theme of sumi-e of a wild boar I painted: http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c188/origa/WildBoar.jpg ; see the final haiga here: http://origa.livejournal.com/108256.html?nc=132 .

Anonymous said...

In the Hooge Veluwe, the national park near where I teach, the population of wild boar has increased tenfold and more, so much so that hunting clubs requested permission to shoot down a couple of hundred to keep the population healthy. Animal rights organizations protested, so the hunts did not push through, except for the occasional kill. I do wonder, though, if at one point the park will become too small for the thousands that will still come. Some manage to break through the perimeter fence and get killed on the highway.

boar hunt
the hunter's scent faster
than his spear

winter moon
sounds of the hunt
too far away

Ella Wagemakers

Gabi Greve said...

Thanks for the comment, Ella!

Our local hunter left no heir to his shooting ability ... so we will have more wild boars to destroy the harvest in the neighbourhood.


Gabi Greve said...

Shōgun Jizō 将軍地蔵 Shogun Jizo, General Jizo
and the inoshishi 猪 wild boar  

Atago Gongen 愛宕権現, a Kami considered to be a temporary incarnation of Jizō - riding a wild boar -

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

shikagaki ni musubi-komaruru hagi no hana

tied tightly inside
a wild boar barrier
bush clover blossoms

This hokku was found among Issa's posthumously discovered papers, so it is probably from the latter years of his life, while he was living in his hometown. Wild boars and deer were considered threats by farmers, since during years in which foraging was difficult they would ravage planted fields during the night, especially during the harvest season. Wild boars were generally the most serious threat. In mountainous or hilly areas the boars, known for having big appetites, would come in large groups or sounders and could eat a farmer's entire crop in a single night. Occasionally wild boars even caused local famines in which numerous farmers died. To protect their fields, many farmers would surround them with sturdy fences or walls, sometimes made out of earth or stone, but more commonly out of brushwood.

In the hokku a local farmer has used long, pliable, vine-like bush clover limbs as if it were rope to bind the pieces of brushwood together into a fence. During most of the year the fence simply looks like a barrier, but, when autumn comes, small reddish purple flowers cover the vines, turning the fence into a thing of rough beauty, though the blossoms will probably soon be gnawed on or gored and battered by wild boars and deer trying to get through the fence. I take Issa to be sympathizing with the thin limbs and flowers, which are not allowed to grow and bloom naturally and may soon be destroyed by boars and deer.

Bush clover grows in low bushes that can sometimes be several feet high, and its long limbs, which grow anew each year and are related to vines, do not rise straight up but are pliant and curve downward at the ends, giving the bush a very delicate look. The drooping limbs are covered with small, reddish purple flowers from July through October. Bush clover is one of the "Seven Plants of Autumn."

Shishi- in the first line refers to both boars and deer. The traditional character for shishi- in shishi-gaki means 'deer,' but by Issa's time the expression had come to mean above all wild boars, perhaps because they were the greater threat to farmers in mountainous areas into which agriculture was at that time expanding.

Chris Drake

Gabi Greve said...

Ta no Kami, Tanokami 田の神 God of the Rice Fields
and inoko 亥の子 / イノコ the "young wild boar"

Tanokami is also called inokami, i no kami 亥の神 God of the Boar

. inoko, i no ko 亥の子 (いのこ) young wild boar .
observance kigo for early winter

and more legends

Gabi Greve said...

Yama no Kami 山の神 God of the Mountain
and his messenger, the inoshishi 猪 wild boar