Can You Hunt In Japan? (Rules, License & Best Locations)

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Hunting in Japan has a deep-rooted cultural significance going back thousands of years.

Many traditional hunting practices are still preserved and even celebrated in certain regions.

Many people are attracted to the thrill of adventuring through Japan’s dense forests, mountainous terrain, and varied climates to pursue their hunting passion.

Can You Hunt In Japan
Hunting in Japan

But what do we know of its legalities?

Is it even allowed at all?

Hunting in Japan

Japan has strict laws regarding hunting. Those who wish to partake in their hunting hobby in Japan will find obtaining a hunting license a little bit of a challenge.

hunting in Japan is not easy
Hunting licensing process in Japan

This is because the Japanese government tightly controls activities to protect the country’s wildlife and ensure sustainable practices.

And who’d expect anything less?

The licensing process can be lengthy. Fulfilling specific requirements to obtain a hunting license even involves a test of language proficiency and knowledge of the hunting regulations in Japan – after all, they don’t just want anybody rocking up with a gun and not sticking to the rules!

That said, hunting opportunities in Japan are limited.

You only need to look at its geography and demographics to understand why. The country has a vast population and a small land area, which limits available hunting areas.

As such, most of the hunting in Japan revolves around wildlife management and conservation purposes rather than recreational hunting.

If you’re wanting more freedom with your hunting, other countries can offer more suitable options and more opportunities.

However, if you’re visiting Japan with work or planning an extended stay in the country and wish to partake in hunting while there, it is possible but you’ll need to plan carefully.

Obtaining a Hunting License in Japan

Let’s talk more on licensing. In Japan, hunting is managed by the Ministry of the Environment.

As mentioned, if you want to hunt, must obtain the appropriate license. It’s not a simply tick-box exercise.

As mentioned, you’ll need to pass a written test and demonstrate that you have the right skills practically for hunting too. You may have guessed already that hunting is very much a regulated activity in Japan.

obtain hunting license in Japan
How to obtain a hunting license in Japan

Depending on the season and the species, hunting limits may also apply. The Japanese are keen protectors of their wildlife populations and wish to preserve their natural habitats.

If you’re still keen on getting a hunting license, you should think about the following:

  1. Check the Criteria: You must meet specific criteria to be eligible for a hunting license in Japan. You must be at least 20 years old, have no criminal record, and be physically strong enough to hold a firearm.
  1. Attend a Course: You must enroll on a hunting course approved by the local government or the Japanese Association of Hunters. These courses provide people with in-depth knowledge about hunting and firearm safety.
  1. Written Test: Once the hunting course is completed, you must pass a written test. This covers wildlife regulations, hunting ethics, and firearms safety.
  1. Practical Training: You will complete practical training once the firearms course is complete. This may involve field exercises, target shooting, and supervised hunting with a guide.
  1. Application: Once all of these steps are completed, you can apply for a hunting license with the local government or the Japan Association of Hunters. You will need to provide many documents supporting the application, including all exam results, proof of completion of all courses, and any other required documents.
  1. Insurance: If your application is approved, you must ensure you have license insurance. Your license will specify which type of hunting you can engage in and the hunting areas you must stick to, and it will outline any other restrictions.

For many who are traveling to Japan for a brief trip, completing all of the above probably isn’t worth it as it’ll take too long.

However, if your trip is a longer one or you make regular trips to the country, it may well be worth it for you to continue enjoying your pastime.

What Can I Hunt in Japan?

Licenses aside, there are also restrictions on what you can hunt in Japan.

Wild boar hunt Japan allowed
Wild boar

Many species are considered protected or sacred. Some iconic species, such as the red-crowned crane and the Japanese macaque, are highly valued and protected by law.

Respecting the local cultural values is incredibly important when considering hunting opportunities in Japan.

Protecting wildlife and maintaining the ecological balance are essential. As such, hunting is mainly limited to specific species and in particular seasons of the year.

Some animals that can be legally hunted in Japan are:

  • Wild Boar (inoshishi): In many regions of Japan, wild boars are considered pests due to their crop damage and population growth. They are allowed to be hunted in designated areas during specific seasons.
  • Deer (shika): Several species of deer can be hunted in Japan; this includes the sika deer and Japanese serow. Hunting seasons are regulated, and permits are required at all times.
  • Waterfowl: Many species of ducks and geese can be hunted in Japan. This is usually allowed in winter when the birds migrate.
  • Game Birds: Some upland game birds, such as quails and pheasants, can be hunted in Japan. As with other species, regulations and specific seasons apply.

Generally speaking, hunting in Japan mainly focuses on specific game species such as wild boar, deer, and waterfowl.

The hunting areas these are found in are often mountainous or in designated hunting grounds. Hunting in these areas may be limited to certain times of the year. As well as this, the number of permits issued can be restricted.

At all times, hunting in Japan requires a proper license, a suitable permit, and a thorough understanding of local regulations.

Shika deer hunt in Japan allowed
Shika deer hunt in Japan

The specifics of hunting laws may vary. This depends on the prefecture and the type of wildlife you intend to hunt. It may be beneficial to contact local authorities and professional hunting associations to ensure you are following all the regulations.

Many different methods are used for hunting in Japan, including stalking, driven hunts, and using hunting dogs.

Depending on the region and the species you are hunting, some of these methods may be restricted or prohibited.

Safety is paramount when hunting in Japan. You must always follow proper firearm handling practices and wear the appropriate safety gear. It’s also crucial to adhere to conservation regulations, including any bag limits and ethical hunting practices. This helps to ensure the sustainability of wildlife populations in Japan.

Where Can I Hunt in Japan?

Many places are known for hunting in Japan, and there are many opportunities to hunt, provided you have the proper documentation.

The hunting regulations in Japan are strict, so obtaining the appropriate licenses and following local guidelines is necessary.

Pheasants hunt Japan allowed
Pheasants hunt Japan

Here are some of the top places for hunting in Japan:

  • Hokkaido: This is the northernmost island of Japan. Renowned for its vast wilderness and abundant wildlife. People come here to hunt Ezo deer, brown bears, and waterfowl.
  • Tohoku Region: This region includes prefectures such as Aomori, Akita, and Yamagata, known for its mountainous landscapes and rich hunting grounds. Japanese serow, boar, deer, and game birds can all be hunted in this area.
  • Nagano: Located in the Chubu region, Nagano is famous for its alpine scenery and is home to diverse wildlife. Many hunters visit Nagano to hunt Japanese macaques, sika deer, and boar.
  • Gumna: Gumna prefecture is located near Tokyo and offers a variety of hunting opportunities.
  • Okinawa: Okinawa provides many hunting opportunities and is known for its beautiful beaches and tropical landscapes. The Ryukyu wild boar can be hunted here.

Final Thoughts on Can You Hunt in Japan?

So, can you hunt in Japan? Yes, it’s certainly possible. Is it easy to do? No, not really, unless you’re up for a long license application!

Can you then hunt what you like? No, absolutely not. If hunting’s your thing, though, it is absolutely possible to do.

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