カモシカ kamoshika—serow

Gifu is a remote and mountainous area in the middle of Japan. We went there for the long weekend to see the beautiful colours of the autumn leaves.

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On the Saturday morning we were walking on a hill called Shiroyama (castle hill).

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It’s called Castle Hill because there used to be a castle on the top. Now there’s just a flat clearing and a stone marker where the castle used to be. The marker says 本丸 honmaru, meaning the main hall.

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On the way down the hill, we spotted this animal. It’s a serow.

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He was not very bothered by our presence, and tolerated my coming closer to get a better picture:

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Eventually, he thought I was a little too close for comfort, and clambered to his feet. I backed off and gave him some space.

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What’s a serow? Well, in Japanese it’s called a カモシカ kamoshika. Serow have an unusual ability. They can make vinegar with their faces. They have an extra set of nostrils below their eyes, from which they secrete vinegar.

Note on the word of the day:

The Japanese word for deer is シカ shika. In English we use the name “sika deer” to refer to the type of deer that is native to Japan, and now lives wild in Ireland and other countries, having been introduced from Japan. Since “sika” just means “deer”, a sika deer is a “deer deer”. The serow is called kamoshika, which looks like it means “duck deer”.

Strictly speaking, a serow isn’t a type of deer, but a type of “goat antelope”.

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