When the world rang in 2019, it also prepared to usher in the Year of the Boar. But in Sasayama, a picturesque, historical city of about 42,000 nestled in rural Hyogo Prefecture about an hour by train from Osaka Station, the wild boar is a symbol of pride, part of a famous local dish and a bane to farmers. It’s also a highly intelligent, aggressive animal that hunters like Yuji Enso have long pursued and respected.

“You have to be able to understand a wild boar’s personality,” says Enso, who heads a local hunting club. “You also need to thoroughly know the mountain terrain you’re tracking the boar through. If you haven’t mastered these two basic points, you won’t catch them.”

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