Sankebetsu Rokusen-sawa, November 1915
A large Ussuri Brown Bear is spotted outside of the rural pioneer village of Sankebetsu Rokusen-sawa. The bear is shot at, a hunting party tries to track it down, and a fierce snowstorm forces them to give up their hunt. This would prove to be a most disastrous mistake.
At 10:30 am, the bear rampages into the farmhouse of the Ota family. The farmer's wife, Abe Mayu and a baby in her care were the only ones home. The baby was bitten in the head and killed. Mayu tried throwing fire wood at the bear and ran, but the bear overtook her and dragged her into the woods before killing her.
The following day, a 30 man search party is formed to find the bear and the body of Mayu. While scouring the woods surrounding the village, the men encounter the bear. Five men shoot at it, one man actually wounds it, and the bear retreats. Nearby, the search party finds dried blood in the snow at the base of a tree. Buried in the snow are the head and parts of the legs of Mayu. The bear has become a maneater.
Later that evening at approximately 8:00pm, the bear returns to the Ota homestead. This causes a mass panic through the guardsmen and all armed men in the village hurry to try and attack the bear. The bear disappears into the forest.
Within the hour, the bear comes back to the village, only this time to the Miyoke homestead. There is only one man present at the home; the remaining people consist of mothers and children. The bear crashes in through a kitchen window as Yayo Yasutaro is preparing a meal whilst carrying her son Umekichi on her back. In the following chaos, the dinner pot is knocked into the fire, putting it out. The only other source of light (an oil lamp) is also knocked out, enveloping the home in darkness. Yayo tries to run but is tripped by her second son Yujiro trips her. The bear bites both Yayo and Umekichi.
Odo was the only present bodyguard and when he ran for the door, the bear left the mother and child to pursue him. He tried hiding behind furniture, but the bear eventually caught him. The bear then mauled three of the young sons from families of the village. After killing the four males, the bear killed and partially devoured the pregnant Take Ishigori.
Following the bloody aftermath, the bear had tallied six kills at this point. The villagers were so terrified some began leaving the village and only veterans of the Russo-Japan war remained as guardsmen.
Enter Yamamoto Heikechi
Following the attack on his home and family, Miyoke Yasutaro left to track down a man by the name of Yamamoto Heikechi, a famous bear hunter. After telling Heikechi what was happening, Miyoke came to find that Heikechi had pawned his gun for alcohol and was more interested in drinking than bear hunting at the moment. After much persuasion, Heikechi came to help the village.
The bear had not been seen since the maulings on December 9th. A task force of 6 men, led by Heikechi, decides to lure the bear to the Miyoke home using the corpse of a victim. They set up the corpse and wait for the bear to appear. The bear comes to the edge of the forest but for some reason retreats back, ultimately ignoring the trap. The following morning, the guards find the Ota house ransacked. The bear had eaten all of the winter food store in the home.
Yamamoto nicknames the bear "Kesagake" and police chief Suga decides that more preemptive measures are needed to protect the village. An ice bridge is constructed and snipers are placed all around. That night, some of the snipers spot a 'large shadow' moving along the edge of the woods. After calling out to it and receiving no reply, Suga orders the snipers to open fire.
After investigating the edge of the river the shadow was seen on, a bear track and some blood are found. Yamamoto and Ikeda Kamejiro, a guide, immediately set off after the bear. They successfully find the bear and Yamamoto gets within 20 meters of Kesagake before firing two shots: one to the head and one to the heart.
After falling Kesagake, the village finds that the bear is 8.9 feet tall and weighs 836 lb. They find human flesh in the bear's stomach.
[Click here to read full article]