Brown bear filmed standing, staring at driver near Hokkaido tourist spot


NEMURO, Hokkaido – A brown bear was caught on video standing on its hind legs and looking out the window of a car that stopped near a tourist spot in the town of Rausu in eastern Hokkaido , on August 18, as the driver inside apparently froze while clutching the steering wheel.

This partially edited still image from a video provided by Ayano Yoshida shows a brown bear standing and looking inside a car near Shiretoko Pass in Rausu City, Hokkaido on August 18, 2022.

Ayano Yoshida, 30, a corporate worker in Sapporo, captured the video near Shiretoko Pass on National Highway 334, or Shiretoko Crossing Road, after a visit to her hometown. She turned on her vehicle’s hazard lights and pulled over after spotting the bear sitting in the center of the road. An oncoming rental car also stopped in the curve.

The brown bear approached the rental vehicle and put a paw on one of the tires. Standing on his hind legs, he looked out the driver’s window and appeared to tug at the rear view mirror.

Inside the rental car was a young man. He apparently froze as he clung to the steering wheel with a drawn face. The rental car then began to slowly drive away safely. The animal looked around on the road for a while, then climbed a slope next to the road and disappeared. Yoshida, who carefully filmed the scene with his smartphone, said, “It must have been horrifying for the man.”

The site is close to Shiretoko Pass, where visitors can see stunning views of Mount Rausu, and there were apparently around 60 tourists in the area at the time, many of them cyclists. Yoshida told the Mainichi Shimbun, “It could have been a terrible situation.”

A representative from the Shoretoko Nature Foundation, who is familiar with the local natural environment, said: “We want people to investigate the situation and leave quickly without getting out of their car or opening the windows if they come across a brown bear while driving. . We urge cyclists and motorcyclists to be especially careful when encountering a bear, and if the animal does not move away from the road, we strongly recommend that they turn back slowly.”

(Japanese original by Hiroaki Homma, Nemuro Office)


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