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Last time I was in Japan half a year before covid I finally saw at least one and possibly two tanuki, also known as "raccoon dogs". They are not related to raccoons but have a very superficial resemblance due to dark areas around their eyes.

When I showed the blurry photo I got of a tanuki to a local they said it might be an araiguma. I had to look it up and when I found out it means "raccoon" I thought we had a language barrier/misunderstanding. But when I looked into it on the internet, it turns out that Japan actually has a big problem with feral raccoons!

Now I've been to Japan over ten times, from Okinawa to Hokkaido, and I've seen itachi, tanuki, kitsune, and shika, possibly also some others. But I've never seen a raccoon here. (I haven't seen a kuma or inoshishi in the wild either, but that's probably a good thing.)

My plans are flexible I could be anywhere in Japan in the next 2.5 months. Where could I go to increase my chances of seeing raccoons here?

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Here in Saga, there are a lot of feral raccoons; they are located about 10-15km from the Saga National Airport. There are also a lot of them in Fukuoka and Nagasaki, and probably in all prefectures here in Kyushu.

The 5-6 times I have seen them is usually at midnight near a small town in the mountains near a forest or high vegetation. They go to the junk and trash to take it and eat it (from my experience). In some towns, there was even an overpopulation of raccoons. Apart from that, 2-3 times at midnight I have seen them crossing the road. They are always near high vegetation areas. Good luck finding them!

I found some links about feral raccoons in Japan; although I couldn't find any links in English specifically about Kyushu, I did find some about the whole country, including information about how they are invasive and where they normally live.

  1. Tofugu: Racoons in Japan

  2. How Did Japan Become Infested with Raccoons?

  3. Invasive raccoon management systems and challenges in regions with active control

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  • Oh I'm in Kyushu now and I walked 50km between Fukuoka and Kitakyusu and 30km between Kitakhushu and Beppu, mostly after dark but in urban areas. The only wildlife I've seen so far is crows. What kind of places would I be more likely to see them? I'll head to Kagoshima in a few days and probably part of that will be on foot too. Jan 23, 2023 at 6:06
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    The 5-6 times I have seen them, normally is at midnight near a little town in a mountain near a forest or high vegetation. They go to the junk and trash to take it and eat it (from my experience). In some towns there was even an over-population of raccoons. Apart from that, 2-3 times at midnight crossing the road. Always near high vegetation places. Good luck finding them!
    – JonBasauri
    Jan 23, 2023 at 8:27
  • You might consider adding some of the details to your answer and then I can accept it. Jan 23, 2023 at 23:56
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    @hippietrail I've moved the comment into OPs question, I think its a great answer now! :-)
    – JonathanReez
    Jan 24, 2023 at 1:15

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