The only English guidebook available (Shikoku Japan 88 Route Guide by Buyodo Co. Ltd) doesn’t have a section on the flora and fauna, but there are certainly enough warning signs along the walk (in Japanese – please see my post on translating signs) to warrant mentioning the following… Whilst I’m not trying to scare anyone, if you can’t read Japanese to read the signs, it would be helpful to recognize whether what you’re standing on/next to/in front of is dangerous or not.
For those who would prefer not to see pictures of snakes and other deadly creatures, I’ll start with the cuddly and nice fauna:
Ok, now onto the not-so-cuddly fauna of Shikoku that you may encounter on your walk…
Mamushi (pitviper)- one of the two most venomous snakes in Japan (the Habu is the other). According to Wikipedia, every year in Japan 2000 to 3000 people are bitten by a mamushi snake and 5-10 people die. They’re quite small, growing to between 45-70cm long.
Yamakagashi (Tiger keelback snake, venomous)- I saw one of these on day 42, when I was walking between Temple 87 and 88. It was easy to identify because of the yellow around its head and red stripes, but it was dead on the road, so not the nicest photo to add here.
Mukade (venomous centipede) – These can grow up to 20cm and have an orange/red head, black body and orange legs. The bites are reported to be very painful resulting in severe swelling and medical attention is recommended. I saw 3 whilst walking.
Inoshishi (wild boar) – reported to attack people and damage crops – I never saw any wild boars, probably because of the two bells on my backpack, but I did see evidence of them along the paths with lots of uprooted soil and many warning signs (in Japanese)
Hachi (Japanese Hornet) – I never saw any warning signs on Shikoku, but I did see the below warning sign on the choishimichi path to Koyasan, on Honshu.
Kuma (bears!) – not on Shikoku apparently, but they are on Honshu (the main island), so if you’re walking the choishimichi path to Koyasan you will come across the following signs and maybe even a bear… I didn’t, but the number of warning signs made me petrified!
I also came across the following snakes, centipedes and spiders, I’m not sure if these snakes are dangerous or not…
And now onto the flora. I was surprised to see that I didn’t have many pictures of the flora, considering I took more than 4500 pictures on the walk, and this got me thinking why? The first couple of weeks I was hit by 3 typhoons which meant I took less photos because I didn’t want to get my phone or camera wet. I never really take photos of what’s growing in people’s gardens, tending to only take photos of what I see growing wild… and I really don’t remember seeing that many wildflowers whilst I was walking through the mountains and along the trails. (Certainly not as many flowers as I saw snakes!) So I can only assume it was the time of year (Oct/Nov – autumn) or that there just aren’t many wildflowers?!