Friday, March 07, 2008


This morning, as I was emerging from the house to get in the car, I saw a small, brown critter, about the size of a cat, but different. I thought at first, it was Tanuki, the Racoon Dog common to Japan (and caricatured in countless statues outside of izakayas). So, when I got to work, I Googled it, and turns out I was wrong. I asked around, and finally, my Boss' secretary suggested that it might be a "hakubishin." Sure enough, that's what it is. In English, it's called a "masked palm civet." Tomoko said not to mess with it because they're mean. Apparently, they've also been indicted as co-conspirators in the SARS outbreak a few years ago. In any case, it didn't stick around long enough for me to do anything except stare at it in wonder as it scurried across the street into the neighbor's yard.

It was neat to see something other than tonbi, though (those are the seahawks (black kites, really) that try to steal your lunch by the beach). Hopefully, I'll see it again before we leave.

(Photo courtesy of Animal Photos!)


Anonymous said...

I saw one of these last night in Sanbancho, Chiyoda-ku! We thought it was a cat at first - and then spotted it's distinctive nose and tail. They must be urban dwellers - but he was desperately trying to get over a wall into a big garden at the time.

Unknown said...

We live in Sendai. For some time I have heard strange noises in the morning on my roof , or perhaps in my attic. I was puzzled as to what it could be and could only imagine a very large crow. Who knows? Maybe it was.

But then — tonight — as I was working in my "bike garage" I emerged to see this rather large creature climbing my drain pipes and emerging on my roof. On two occasions over a short period we were staring at each other. He/she was not at all unnerved and was as keen upon looking at me as I was him/her. With astonishing dexterity, the beast scaled onto my roof with and vanished out of sight.

Three years ago I inspected my attic and saw absolutely no sign of either insect, bird nor mammal intrusion. But now after looking into possible "masked civit" intrusion phenomenon, I am of the mind that we may have to employ professionals to deal with capture and expulsion expulsion for which a license is needed because these intrusive species from south-east Asia are apparently protected by law. Professional applications of chemical sterilization as well as stringent disinfectant may be needed to deal with excreta. DAMN! Not in my budget! — but what else to do?

My wife says she thinks the noise is coming from outside. Well, I hope her younger ears are better equipped to detect direction. :)

Interesting fellow mammals ... but I don't want them in my house.