Can rock’n’roll protect people from bear attacks? A Japanese region hopes so and has commissioned a cautionary anthem warning residents of the threat posed by its urchin inhabitants.
Bears are common across Japan and regularly unleash frantic hunts when they venture into cities, where they have attacked and even killed residents.
A spike in the number of bear sightings in rural northern Japan has sparked a new response: The Iwate Prefectural government has commissioned a rock song to be played across the region.
“So you think bear cubs are cute?” the song’s lyrics begin, as screeching guitars and pounding drums play in the background.
“Get rid of this naive way of thinking! Near this cub is a parent bear, and it will suddenly attack you! Roar, roar, roar, roar, roar, roar – he will suddenly attack you!”
The track was written and performed by a pair of local sixty-something rockers and offers sobering advice such as “never turn your back and run away” and “trying to play dead doesn’t work”.
Singer Yuuzen Taguchi, 69, said the advice served him well the one time he encountered a bear near a field. “It’s very scary when you’ve just appeared in front of you,” he told AFP.
“You want to run away, but my grandparents told me years ago that if you ever encounter a bear, don’t turn around and back away slowly.
“I learned this rural knowledge that comes from living with bears when I was a kid.”
There were more than 3,300 bear sightings in Iwate Prefecture in 2020, up from 700 in 2017.
Authorities hope the song, which plays at 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 played in bands for the past 50 years, gave it a rhythmic rock twist by adding his screaming vocals.
“Bears are said to be shy creatures, so I think if anyone heard the song playing outside, they would run away,” Toudou said.
“That’s the power of rock’n’roll.”