A basic hunting skills course launched by the Nagano Prefectural Government to combat increasing damage to crops and trees by wild animals has proven popular, drawing many more participants than expected.

One rainy day in mid-December, Hitomi Nishijo, a 21-year-old college student from Ueda, Nagano, was part of a group who attended a hunting exercise in a forest in the Sanada district.

"As I learned about the damage caused by birds and animals in a university class, I decided to take the course in order to contribute to my local area," she said.