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As I write this in my home outside Kurohime, it’s astonishing to realize it has been 36 years since I came to live in the hills of northern Nagano Prefecture.

Back then, as I still am, I was eager to learn more about the wildlife and legends of our mountains, so I studied to get the permits I needed to join the local hunting association. Actually, though, the members generously let me go along with them as a beater even before I’d completed all the exams and shooting tests and satisfied all the police checks required to qualify for my gun and hunting licenses.

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