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The buck stops here: ‘Hunting girls’ on the rise


Here’s a new buzzword for you: kari-gaaru (hunting girls).

They’ve descended from past trendsetting mori-gaaru (“forest girls,” interested in carefree lifestyles and spending time in nature) and yama-gaaru (“mountain girls,” who enjoy fashionable hikes).

So now Japan has kari-gaaru who, instead of playing games or chasing the latest fashions, are more interested in tracking deer and other game out in the wild.

Licensed to kill

Hunters in the country are becoming scarce as the members of their core demographic advance in age. According to the Environment Ministry, there were 190,000 hunters nationwide in 2010, down from 518,000 in 1975. Of the 190,000 registered hunters, nearly 65 percent were over the age of 60.

As the overall number of hunters decreases, the number of female hunters is seeing an uptick. In 2009, women accounted for 0.7 percent of those holding Type 1 Hunting Licenses, which permit the use of both gunpowder-fired guns and air guns, up from 0.5 percent in 2001.

The website Mezase! Kari-Gaaru (“Aim to be a hunting girl!”), operated by Dainihon Ryoyukai, cites three reasons that women have offered to explain why they’ve taken up hunting:

  • “I want to know about the meat that I eat, just as I want to about rice, vegetables and fish.”
  • “I became interested in forest conservation and environmental protection after seeing the damage caused to fields by animals through exchanges with farmers.”
  • “I was already going on hikes in the mountains — I wanted something more challenging.”

Oh deer, it’s delicious!

The website also profiles a woman who has a gun permit and hunting license. After a trip to a restaurant in Hokkaido that specialized in venison, she wondered about where the meat came from and wanted to participate in a deer hunt.

Akihiko Tomiyama of Dainihon Ryoyukai said the number of hunting girls has been on the rise over the past two to three years because of increased popularity of gibier (wild game) cuisine and recent news coverage of animals damaging agriculture.

Tomiyama said that his group has been receiving feedback from women saying they saw the website and became interested in hunting or have already begun taking steps to become hunting girls.

This is an abridged translation of a story that was first published on April 12 on J-CAST News, a Tokyo-based news site established in 2006.

Girls from trends past:

Swamp girls’ emerge from the forest
Yama girls take to the great outdoors
Power spots: Japan’s latest spiritual craze
Trends in Japan 2010: yama boom
Will girls take the bait of fishing fashion?