Hunters: an endangered species
As a result of Fukushima’s nuclear incidents of 2011, the State prohibited many Matagi communities to market bear meat –mainly in the prefectures of Gunma, Tochigi and Fukushima itself– due to the high risk of radiation poisoning. Recently the Japanese authorities lifted the veto, and the Matagi were able to resume what has been their main economic activity for centuries.
Neverthless, in the context of a highly globalized, industrialized and urbanized 21st century Japan, the Matagi face a more than likely extinction of their cultural heritage. The global aging of the Japanese population, the legal and regulatory limitations regarding hunting and the attachment to values that no longer germinate among the younger generations –who migrate en masse from rural environments to the city– are some of the reasons why the hunters are left without much hope of preserving their legacy.
According to tradition, the goddess of the mountain mistrusts other women and therefore prevents them from accessing her domain. However, the need for social change has prevailed over religious convictions and, faced with a growing disinterest among young men to continue this tradition, the first cases of Matagi women, accepted and trained as hunters, have recently emerged. Women who –as can be observed on a global scale and in all strata of society– are claiming a position of equality in all fields.