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Bear spray rental?

2020 Camino Guides

meye1099

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013, 2016, Aug. 2020), Del Norte (2018), Primitivo (2018), Nakahechi (Apr. 2020)
Hi, everyone! Does anyone have advice on where to buy or rent bear spray in Japan for the Kumano Kodo?

I know it might be overkill, but I'd rather have some and not need it than need it and not have it. We also plan on bringing some bear bells.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
You could try asking on the Facebook Kumano Kodo planning group: https://m.facebook.com/groups/984871891620344?ref=bookmarks One of the members works as a guide and with the local tourist board. I have walked two of the Kumano Kodo routes and have not heard of anyone carrying bear spray. They are occasionally seen on the Kohechi route and there are some warning signs. But the bears found on the Kumano Kodo are the Asiatic black bears which are considered far less of a threat than the brown bears of Hokkaido.
PS: I just searched the Facebook group for information about bears and bear precautions. Mike Rhodes - the guide I mentioned above - says that there have not been bears on the most popular Nakahechi route in decades.
 
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meye1099

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013, 2016, Aug. 2020), Del Norte (2018), Primitivo (2018), Nakahechi (Apr. 2020)
Thank you! That is reassuring. I don't have Facebook, but this forum community has been a real gem for getting useful info on both the Camino de Santiago and the Kumano Kodo from all the experienced hikers. And thank you for seeking out info on the Facebook group. My guidebook I bought (The latest Cicerone edition) mentioned black bears on the Kohechi trail, but I was unsure about the Nakahechi trail--which is what my husband and I are hiking in April.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, May-June (2017)
Ingles, June (201
Leon-Sarria, June (2019)
Le Puy-Santiago (2023)
It is quite likely that it would be illegal to carry bear spray or anything like it in Japan. They have an ill defined law about carrying harmful items “without reasonable cause”, fear of bears, just in case, may not qualify.
 

meye1099

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013, 2016, Aug. 2020), Del Norte (2018), Primitivo (2018), Nakahechi (Apr. 2020)
It is quite likely that it would be illegal to carry bear spray or anything like it in Japan. They have an ill defined law about carrying harmful items “without reasonable cause”, fear of bears, just in case, may not qualify.
I see. That is good to know.
 

Hugh Larkin

Perpetual Wanderer
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2014
Sanabria 2018
Pieterpad 2018
Kumano Kodo (2020)
If we see any bears on the Nakahechi Trail in March, I hope they are as docile as this bear I spotted in a park in Eugene, OR a couple of weeks ago. There was nothing in my recent researching of the trail that indicated any bear were present, but I will, and always do, keep an eye out for unusual things like bears.
 

Attachments

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Bear spray is available for hire from a national park centre in Hokkaido where there is a substantial population of brown bears. So I think it is probably legal when its use is justified.
You're having a Giraffe mate aren't you? Please say yes...

Otherwise do you have to return it with a full tank or the hire company will charge you extra? Is it best to thoroughly examine the thing & take photos of any dents, scratches or bite-marks before you sign the hire documents ? Should you just accept the model they offer or ask what else is available? :eek: ;)
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Should you just accept the model they offer or ask what else is available? :eek: ;)
I didn't bother with bear spray in Japan myself. I remembered the advice I once read being offered by a ranger to a hiker in bear country - "If you meet one and it turns hostile throw human excrement at it." "What if I can't find any?" "I promise you that won't be a problem..." :cool:
 

tominrm

Hiking to Celebrate the End of Working Life.
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2014,2019)
del Norte ( 2015)
Portuguese ( 2016)
Primitivo ( 2017)
VdlP (2018)
I personally feel that renting a bear spray is overkill. They are not like grizzly bear. Those bears, if you are lucky to spot any, are shy and and would avoid people. The only dangerous situation might be if you surprise them while a female bear is nursing a young.
By the way, are you going to pack anti-snake venom kit? There are many "watch poisonous snakes" warning signs.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I can personally confirm that there are venomous snakes on the Nakahechi route. Mamushi are seen quite often. Very similar to the Copperhead in North America. Watch your step!
mamushi.jpg
 

kazrobbo

Tassie Kaz
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2012)
CP(2015)
St Olavs Way Norway(2016)
88 Temples Japan(2017)
PWC & VF(2019)
Israel (2020)
Hi, everyone! Does anyone have advice on where to buy or rent bear spray in Japan for the Kumano Kodo?

I know it might be overkill, but I'd rather have some and not need it than need it and not have it. We also plan on bringing some bear bells.
Rather than a specific item, you may consider a 'multi-purpose' approach.
I carry a small can of personal insect repellent; fits easily in a pocket, no issues of legality carrying it, can be purchased cheaply at supermarkets or outdoor/adventure gear suppliers, could be used to spray at a number of threats...bitey, annoying insects, bears & (as a solo female walker) menacing encounters of the human variety.... 😯 Wouldn't want to get close enough to spray at a mamushi 🐍 though! 😄
I can say with all the trails I walked in over a dozen countries, I've never used it for other than it's intended purpose...but it's there...just in case.
I'll be walking the KK in 2021 so hope you'll post of your experiences.
Gambatte!
👣 🌏
 
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Charles Zammit

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean Pied de Port - Finisterra 2017
GR70 France 2018
Via Francigena 2019
Is this so called ' Bear Spray ' useful against the Devilish and extremely dangerous Nocturnal Drop Bear ?
Extremely cunning and resourceful they are perhaps the most feared of creatures in the Australian bush , far more threatening than any snake , crocodile or spider .:)
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Is this so called ' Bear Spray ' useful against the Devilish and extremely dangerous Nocturnal Drop Bear ?
Tricky. Wouldn't you have to spray it straight up into the branches of the trees? Then get drenched in chilli extract as the stuff lands back down on you and becomes a marinade and a condiment? And if the drop bear has already launched itself is there much chance that chilli juice hitting its backside can change its trajectory anyway?
 
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MTtoCamino

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis SJPdP to Finnestere April(2014)
Lol very interesting read on bear spray I carry it when hiking & have deployed it 1 time here in Montana. The key is to use it early, @ 30 yards. Don’t hesitate. It will not hurt them, but it will stop the advance. You will be wishing you had more.
 

Les Stewart

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Francigena, Kumano Kodo, San Benedetto, Iseji, Assisi, Kunisaki
I've done 3 of the Kumano Kodo routes and never saw any bears although i did notice a number of bear warning signs. Some remote places definitely have a feeling like bears could be lurking nearby, particularly on the Kohechi trail. Snakes are more likely though and depending which trail you take you can expect to encounter them. For bears the Japanese recommend using a bell attached to your pack or walking stick as a warning you're approaching.
 
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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
The reason they rent out the bear spray is that you never need it - so you will return it still full and unused ;-)
BC SY
 

meye1099

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013, 2016, Aug. 2020), Del Norte (2018), Primitivo (2018), Nakahechi (Apr. 2020)
I personally feel that renting a bear spray is overkill. They are not like grizzly bear. Those bears, if you are lucky to spot any, are shy and and would avoid people. The only dangerous situation might be if you surprise them while a female bear is nursing a young.
By the way, are you going to pack anti-snake venom kit? There are many "watch poisonous snakes" warning signs.
Any advice on what kind of anti-snake venom kit would be best?
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
Any advice on what kind of anti-snake venom kit would be best?
Haven't heard of hikers carrying anti-venom. On the trails around Kumano, I think you're generally close enough to civilization to be able to call for medical attention quite quickly. The venomous snake you'll find through most of Japan is a type of viper called "Mamushi." I've heard that its venom is generally not life threatening to adults unless you suffer a bite to the face or neck. Old guys who go rooting around for them *(to put into bottles of hooch) are more likely to get that kind of bite.
Japan"s other famously venomous snake is called "Habu" and is only found in Okinawa - in the far south. (And there are various sea snakes down in the far south - don't mess with them).
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I've heard that its venom is generally not life threatening to adults unless you suffer a bite to the face or neck.
It would not be wise to underestimate the potential threat from mamushi venom. Between 2,000 and 3,000 bites per year in Japan resulting in around 10 deaths annually and lengthy hospital stays for many others. They are not particularly aggressive snakes and will usually try to avoid contact where possible. I have not read of anyone carrying antivenom on the Kumano Kodo. In the unlikely event of a bite the general first aid actions for snakebite would be to bandage the entire bitten limb tightly to immobilise it then remain as still as possible until help can arrive. Though that might not be practical if walking solo.
 

meye1099

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2013, 2016, Aug. 2020), Del Norte (2018), Primitivo (2018), Nakahechi (Apr. 2020)
It would not be wise to underestimate the potential threat from mamushi venom. Between 2,000 and 3,000 bites per year in Japan resulting in around 10 deaths annually and lengthy hospital stays for many others. They are not particularly aggressive snakes and will usually try to avoid contact where possible. I have not read of anyone carrying antivenom on the Kumano Kodo. In the unlikely event of a bite the general first aid actions for snakebite would be to bandage the entire bitten limb tightly to immobilise it then remain as still as possible until help can arrive. Though that might not be practical if walking solo.
Haven't heard of hikers carrying anti-venom. On the trails around Kumano, I think you're generally close enough to civilization to be able to call for medical attention quite quickly. The venomous snake you'll find through most of Japan is a type of viper called "Mamushi." I've heard that its venom is generally not life threatening to adults unless you suffer a bite to the face or neck. Old guys who go rooting around for them *(to put into bottles of hooch) are more likely to get that kind of bite.
Japan"s other famously venomous snake is called "Habu" and is only found in Okinawa - in the far south. (And there are various sea snakes down in the far south - don't mess with them).
Thank you for your responses. I knew there were a couple poisonous snakes on the trail but I truthfully wasn't too worried. My understanding of snakes was they generally don't want to be around people. (Though I'm not an expert at all.) So my main plan was to pay attention and not step on any snakes or wander into the brush for the bathroom at all. And after reading through this thread maybe get some snake gaiters? They are a little expensive but could be useful on future hiking trips as well.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
It would not be wise to underestimate the potential threat from mamushi venom. Between 2,000 and 3,000 bites per year in Japan resulting in around 10 deaths annually and lengthy hospital stays for many others.
You are right. Any attempt to communicate risk is fraught with difficulties. People worry disproportionately about some things but my post probably understates the dangers of mamushi.

My gut tells me that many of the bitten people are folks who went out of their way to encounter a mamushi. I read that the average bite victim is a man in his sixties ... I've encountered too many of those old timers in the boondocks who go after the snakes that they see instead of letting them go on their way. As you said, mamushi try to avoid contact where possible.

The one time I saw a live one up close in the wild was when I was out with a mad old mushroom picker who carried a special stick for the purpose of capturing them. The booze will have killed him by now if a snake hasn't.

Though that might not be practical if walking solo.
Good point. I always have a mobile phone and I get decent reception even on mountain trails. But I guess some International visitors don't have that. Especially if you're solo, I think it's worth shelling out some cash to ensure you have mobile communications capabilities - whether data roaming or local device rental.
 

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