A-Yokai-A-Day: Onikuma

Last week the State of New Jersey mourned for a tragic loss: Pedals the Walking Bear was dead.

Pedals was a 333-pound wild American black bear who had deformed forepaws. He held his small, weak paws close to his chest, and was unable to walk on them. Instead, he walked on two feet like a human, making him a sensation to all who saw him. Pedals was beloved by the North Jersey residents who frequently filmed and photographed his trips through the towns.

Of course this all sounds very silly and harmless today; but before modern times a wild bear—deformed or not—walking through a town would not be a charming thing. Bears only really come into human-inhabited areas when they need food, and that means taking something from people. Today it usually means trash, but obviously bears are capable of taking much more than that if they are hungry enough.

So that brings us to today’s yokai. Certainly this is no Pedals the Walking Bear. This is a gigantic monster bear who walked through towns in old Japan on two legs just like Pedals, but he was not at all beloved. This bear could pick up cows and horses and walk away with them! It could lift boulders than ten men could not budge! In short, this was a scary animal!

But chances are, this yokai started out in much the same way as Pedals did—just a wild animal that happened to come too close to a human settlement. And with yokai bears, just as with bears today, that usually doesn’t end up good for anybody.

Click below to read all about onikuma, the demon bear. And join my Patreon to learn more about strange and scary yokai throughout the year, not just in October!


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