A creepy ‘amusement park’ has sparked outrage by putting up a monument to a 9ft bear that killed seven people.
The enormous predator struck on the Japanese Island of Hokkaido, and now a theme park built in homage to the bloodbath has opened in the rural Sankebetsu region.
The Sankebetsu Brown Bear Incident Reconstruction Location is themed around the savage five-day ordeal which saw houses destroyed and seven villagers mauled to death by a huge rampaging brown bear more than a century ago.
But the attraction is not for the faint-hearted.
Online reviews for the reconstructed site include comments like: “I couldn’t visit it alone“, “It’s too creepy” and “I was too scared to leave the car“.
These comments aren’t exaggerating things, as the official website for the town even warns visitors that “it’s not well-lit, even in the daytime“, “there’s no mobile phone service in the area“, “brown bears may appear“, and “please refrain from visiting at night because it’s dangerous“.
Sightings of Asiatic Black Bears and the larger Brown Bears, which live on the island of Hokkaido are on the rise, so the warnings are worth noting, especially given the horrific events that took place in the area.
The attack, known as the Sankebetsu brown bear incident, occurred in 1915 when newly-arrived settlers in the area were in the process of clearing land for farming.
On the night of 9 December, a giant brown bear that hadn’t hibernated attacked the village, breaking into one of the villagers huts and mauling two people to death.
But the creature’s lust for blood wasn’t stopped, and later that night, the bear returned. The villagers had gathered to guard the settlement and were able to stop the bear from attacking one of the family huts.
However, the bear then moved on to a different hut, where it mauled and killed five people.
The terrifying ordeal continued for five days, as the ferocious beast returned to ransack houses and terrify residents, until the mighty creature was killed by a famous bear hunter.
Hunter Yamamoto Heikichi bagged the beast on December 14, the monster weighed in at a whopping 340-kilograms (749-pounds) and measured 2.7 metres (8.9 feet) in length.
News of the horrific incident spread across Japan and and has since inspired novels, manga, documentaries, plays and even a movie called Yellow Fangs, directed by Sonny Chiba.
Not to mention the theme park itself, built on the site of the attack, where visitors can view recreations of the tragedy, complete with villager’s huts and gigantic model bears.
One recreation shows the bear looming almost as tall as one of the villager’s huts, while another shows the terrifying creature bashing its way through the wall of a hut, in search of prey.
After the bear attack, all the settlers left and the area became uninhabited, at least by humans. Bears still exist in the area today, and in greater numbers than before, due to the cessation of annual bear-hunting culls that had previously been in place in Hokkaido until 1990.
The park was created to tell the story of the terrifying attack and promote coexistence between humans and nature and it stands as a testament to the terrifying power of the wild. But locals also benefit from the myth that has grown up around the attacks that bring tourists and have put their sleepy corner of rural Japan on the map.
Just be sure to bring bear bells to scare away any non-human visitors to the park you may encounter on your visit, as the area remains prime bear habitat.