“In this region, ‘Mitsumine-sama’ refers to the wolf god.” — Kunio Yanagita, “The Legends of Tono”

On his days off, Shinichiro Ishiguro stacks his camera equipment, tanks of water and an assortment of scrub brushes into his Toyota Corolla Cross and sets out hunting for the fading remnants of wolf worship in northern Japan.

Ishiguro is the director of a local history and folk museum in Murata, a town about 30 minutes by car from Sendai, the prefectural capital of Miyagi. For over a decade now he’s been tracing evidence of how the Japanese wolf, a supposedly extinct apex predator that once roamed the mountains and forests of the nation, was venerated in the Tohoku region.