Locals share the real meaning hidden in this chalked-out memo.

No matter how many guidebooks you read when travelling around Japan, nothing can compare to the inside knowledge you can glean from locals when visiting their neck of the woods.

Locals often know the best places to eat, shop and visit, and if you’re out in rural areas like the wilds of Hokkaido Prefecture, they know how to read and understand the true meaning of signs and messages posted within the community as well.

▼ Case in point is this message, photographed in Hokkaido by Twitter user @nippou_.

The chalked-out message above has the date, 17 October, along with the words “うんちあり” (“unchi ari”), which means “there is poo“.

It might seem like a simple and straightforward message, but there’s one vital piece of information missing — what type of poo was seen here on 17 October?

People from outside the area might mistake this as a passive aggressive message from a passerby to a dog owner who failed to pick up their pet’s poop. Or they might get the impression that the locals were alerting others to the droppings of a stray cat.

However, they’d be wrong in both cases. Because locals know what type of poop this message refers to, and it belongs to a much bigger beast — a bear.

▼ Hokkaido is home to the Ussuri brown bear (pictured), which is much larger than the Japanese black bear that lives on the Japanese mainland.

Wild bear encounters are a concern in many areas of Hokkaido, where visitors are usually alerted to the dangers of the animal with warning signs like this one below.

▼ Dates of recent bear sightings in the area (1 July in the below image) are often added to the signs.

Locals are always vigilant when it comes to bears in their midst, and alerting others to the existence of bear poop is an important way to keep the community safe. It’s a practice that people outside of local communities may not be aware of though, so, as @nippou_ notes, if you see a “unchi ari” message scrawled on the pavement in Hokkaido, it’s “a message that means ‘brown bear danger’, so please be careful“.

▼ Given @nippou_’s specialisation in warring states cosplay, however, it looks like the bears might need to watch out for her.

With bears coming dangerously close to residential areas in recent years — and seniors fighting them off with their bare hands — it’s good to know the hidden meaning in the messages left behind by locals.

Source: Twitter/@nippou_ via Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Wikipedia/Nzrst1jx, Pakutaso, Twitter/@nippou_ (1, 2)
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