Northern Pika


Remember Ussuri Brown Bear lives in Hokkaido? Guess who else does? Yeppers: the Northern Pika. Actually, the Northern Pika lives in many places, from Japan all the way to the Ural Mountains. They may kind of look like mice, but they are more closely related to rabbits. You know you’re looking at a Pika because it doesn’t have a tail.

You know you ARE a Pika if you live in a rock pile, communicate with other Pikas with high-pitched whistles, and you love eating all manner of plants. You are also nocturnal or crepuscular, have rounded ears and store food for the winter. Speaking of storing food for winter, if you do run out, then you eat your own poop because it’s high in digestible energy. Kinda gross, Pika, but way to keep it real.

Least Concern


Ussuri Brown Bear


Sam, as you are well aware, your grandmother is from Japan. This makes you partially Japanese, which is pretty cool. Before you were born, even before your parents were married, your dad went to Japan. He bought me this mug:

Hokkaido mug

As you can see, it has a big bear on it. This bear is Higuma Bear, or the Ussuri brown bear, or known by the locals in Hokkaido as “Boss of Forest.” They are the ancestors to American Grizzly bears (they crossed to Alaska about 100,000 years ago, when there was a land bridge).

Higuma are, like all bears, looking for a good time. They like to slide on snow covered hills on their bellies and make bubbles in the water with their noses. They love picnics, Samurai movies, and fighting with tigers. They, like many things in Japan, are mysterious and beautiful. “Most Fierce Bear of Hokkaido.”