Never bring a bear to an opposable thumb fight.

Being an apple farmer in northern Tohoku’s Aomori Prefecture seems like a nice, peaceful job. You’re out in the natural world, away from all the clamoring trains and ringing phones of downtown Tokyo’s office district, and if your orchard happens to be in the city of Hirosaki, maybe some of the apples you grow will end up in some of the city’s famous apple pies.

So it’s likely when a 44-year-old employee at Hirosaki’s Kamisukisawa Apple Orchard was doing some work among the trees late last Wednesday afternoon, he was feeling pretty calm and stress-free. Of course, nothing amps up the tension in your workplace like the sudden appearance of wild bears, which is what happened next.

“At first, I just thought ‘No way,’” the man says. “First the two cubs came out of the brush, and I stated to move away. But then the parent came out, and it noticed me.”

Considering the circumstances, we’ll forgive the man for not having the perceptiveness to determine whether it was Mama Bear or Papa Bear who was taking care of the kids that day. He did, however, manage to roughly estimate its size as about one meter (3.3 feet) in length before the parent charged at him.

“When it started coming at me, I tried to run away, but I slipped and fell,” the man says, having reacted in the same way that most of us would when suddenly confronted by an animal from the upper food chain echelons. However, it turns out that his initial fight-or-flight decision wasn’t the one-and-only answer to his dilemma. As the bear reached him, the man, acting on instinct, stick out a fist and hit the bear square on the nose.

That was as much roughhousing as the bear was in the mood for, and it quickly turned and ran off into the surrounding mountains, taking its two cubs with it.

▼ “Whoa, dude, nobody said anything about punching!”

The man was out of danger, having suffered no injuries, not even to his pride, as he now joins the small (yet still surprisingly large) group of Japanese men who can claim to have defeated a bear in one-on-one, hand-to-paw combat. However, since the incident took place 800 meters (0.5 miles) away from a junior high school, the local hunting club is asking for permission to set up a cage to catch the bear, out of concern for the safety of the children (though the plan would likely also boost the city’s honey security).

Source: Livedoor News/Nitele News 24 via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Mousai

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