Can rock’n’roll protect people from bear attacks? A Japanese region hopes so and has commissioned a warning hymn warning residents of the threat from its Ursine inhabitants.
Bears are common across Japan and regularly set off frantic hunts when they venture into cities, where they have attacked and even killed residents.
An increase in the number of bear sightings in rural northern Japan has sparked a new response: The Iwate Prefecture government has commissioned a rock song that will be sung throughout the region.
“So, do you think cubs are cute?” The lyrics of the song begin, as screaming guitars and thumping drums play in the background.
“Get rid of that naive way of thinking!” Nearby this cub is a parent bear, and it will suddenly attack you! Roaring, roaring, roaring, roaring, roaring, roaring – it will suddenly attack you!
The track was written and performed by a pair of local rockers in their 60s and offers thought-provoking advice such as ‘never turn your back and run away’ and ‘trying to play dead doesn’t work’.
Singer Yuuzen Taguchi, 69, said such advice served him well the one time he encountered a bear near a field. “It’s very scary when you show up right in front of you,” he told AFP.
“You want to run away, but my grandparents told me years ago that if you ever meet a bear, don’t turn around and slowly back up.
“I was taught this rural knowledge that comes from living with bears as a child.”
There were more than 3,300 bear sightings in Iwate Prefecture in 2020, up from 700 in 2017.
Authorities hope the song, which airs in local roadside malls until October 31, will teach people how to stay safe.
Songwriter Kaoru Toudou, 61, said he originally wrote it as a blues number. But Taguchi, who has performed in bands for the past 50 years, gave it an up-tempo rock touch when he added his screaming voice.
“They say bears are shy creatures, so I think if you heard the song playing outside, it would run away,” Toudou said.
“It’s the power of rock’n’roll.”