NEMURO, Hokkaido -- A man driving along a road in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido encountered a rare sight recently when a bear suddenly started running ahead of the vehicle -- a scene captured on video by a passenger.
The incident occurred on National Route 44 in the town of Hamanaka in eastern Hokkaido, at around 9 p.m. on March 2. The driver spotted "something bulky" on the road and at first thought it was a large sheep. After he realized it was a bear, he asked a female passenger to record it with a smartphone.
The man says he doesn't clearly remember the speed he was traveling, but said that the bear continued to run for about 20 seconds in front of the car, illuminated by the headlights and seemingly unperturbed by the sound of the horn. After a while it disappeared into the darkness of a thicket.
The temperature at the time was an icy minus 3 degrees Celsius, and the bear's white breath could be seen as it ran along. Snow remained at the sides of the road, meaning that if the bear had only recently emerged from hibernation, it was a considerably early awakening.
Toshimi Miyata, a 63-year-old acquaintance of the man and president of a driving school, uploaded the video on the free messaging app Line.
"The bear didn't cross the center line, but ran while keeping left, and made a right turn after confirming there were no cars," Miyata said with a smile. "It was a bear that observes the road rules."
(Japanese original by Hiroaki Honma, Hokkaido News Department)