I have had a lot of requests for more info on the possibility/process of hunting in Japan so here goes:
Disclaimer: This is as accurate as I can be, but there me be very slight variations in other regions of Japan, but since these are nationally and prefecturally managed, the variations are probably personality based, not significant variations. If anyone has additional info, please share!
What can be hunted? Here is a basic list, off the top of my head. Big game including; Original Japanese Sika Deer (Ma-Jika), Modern Japanese Sika Deer or "Cervus Nippon-Nippon" (Nihon-Jika), Hokkaido Sika Deer (Ezo-Jika), Hokkaido Brown Bear (Ezo-Guma), Asiatic Crested Black Bear (Tsuki-no-Waguma), and Asian Wild Boar (Inoshishi). Small Game: Common Fox (Kitsune), Hare (Usagi), Japanese Raccoon-Dog (Tanuki), Marten, Mink, Upland Birds: Green Pheasant (Kiji), Copper Pheasant (Yama-Dori), Mourning Dove (Kiji-Bato), Dove (Hato), Sparrow (Suzume), and three species of large Japanese Crows (Karasu). Waterfowl: A very wide variety of ducks and geese (Sorry, I am not well versed in this area).
Foreigners Hunting in Japan: As far as I know there are currently 3 foreigners (with permanent residency status) that have both the National Firearms License (and a firearm), and a National Hunting License (me, plus a guy in Misawa, a guy in Yamaguchi). Last week another foreigner passed the hunting test in Yamaguchi and is waiting on his firearms license.
Requirements:Hunting License: 1 day process with a tricky written test, hands on evaluation, and practical application. Test is 2 times per year. Pass rate for each level hovers around 30%. Levels include: 1-Snares/Traps, 2-Hunting Air Rifles, 3- Shotguns, 4-Rifles. I possess a level 4 license up to Rifle Hunting. Most people take the test 2 or 3 times to pass, since it is designed to make people fail and ultimately deter people from hunting. Fees to get license about $350. for the initial license 3 year then an additional annual safety brief, renewal every three years, and then the actual annual hunting permit. Sadly there is no training or testing on many vital skills such as hunter safety clothing, land navigation, emergency procedures, shot placement, field dressing, game processing...
Requirements: Firearms License: Also a 1 day process with written test, hands on evaluation, and practical application. Test is also only 2 times per year. Pass rate for this test hovers around 20%. Most people take the test 2 or 3 times to pass. Again, it is designed to discourage gun ownership. Fees to get license about $300. Annual Expenses (after getting your hunting and firearms license):$320 for mandatory membership fees in the village, city, county, prefecture (state) and all-Japan hunting associations, and for Mandatory Hunter Insurance. I also belong to the All-Japan Big Game Association ("52 Club") and membership is an additional $300 per year.
Firearms Purchasing: Very restrictive, controlled (hindered) at every level. Request may legally sit in police station for up to one year. Requires extensive background check, neighbor and family check, police interview, and house/locker inspection. Also need approval from landlord, neighborhood chief, and your employer. Additional recommendations from hunting association leaders is helpful. Fees for guns are typically double or triple US prices. Application fees are charged for every step of the way (typical Japanese government process where you pay for every document being processed).
A key difference between the US and Japan is the fact that you only can have one gun for each purpose. If you want another gun for deer hunting, you must give your old one to a gun shop or the police station for disposal before you can accept receipt of your new one. I own a 20 gauge for bird hunting, and a 12 gauge for big game. If you want a rifle....the minimum requirement is that you own a shotgun for 10 years without incident, then you can apply for a rifle. Approval rate for rifles is very low, and may take several more years.
Harvest Limits:We are in heaven! Right now (15 Nov 10 to 15 Feb 11) the limits are:
Deer: Male 1 per day per person, Female 1 per person per day
Bear: either sex, 1 per species per person per day
Boar: either sex, 1 per day per day
Green Pheasant and Copper Pheasant: 1 per person per day
Please take a look through this blog for some photos, there are some monsters here! Well, I hope this is enough to give you a slightly clearer picture of hunting in Japan. I have lots more info and will be glad to assist in any area you might need some help. I am slow on returning email since I have a very demanding full-time job, a busy family life, tend our garden, belong to the Japanese Volunteer Fire Department & Disaster Response Team, and HUNT!!!
See you in the Yama!