Japan is one of the cleanest countries in the world. But in stark contrast to this, you can find a black creature – the crow very frequently even in the center of the city like Tokyo.
Crows co-live with human in Tokyo
In my country, a crow caw implies someone is going to pass away, so when I first came to Japan, settled everything and embraced my first sunny day in this new country, that caw in the neighborhood made me so uneasy. I believe this must rank in any Top 3 surprises all foreigners feel when they first come to Japan.
Asking around a lot, most people said it is because in Japan, even in the city like Tokyo, there are a lot of greens which make the group of crow, who are very smart creatures, decide to co-live here with humans. At the same time, the trash on the street is very perfect food for them. In early times when the garbage classification was still not so strict, the downtown of Tokyo had a lot of spots full of garbage, which attracted the crow to make the city their hometown. So thinking positively, it at least means that Tokyo or Japan, is a very comfortable and rich place for not only humans but also the crow.
In recent decades, the crow’s problem has gotten much better thanks to the garbage classification and people’s consciousness to follow the rules. So when you think the classification rules of the garbage in Japan is so complicated and about to complain, just think about the crow, the grim caw of that bird.
Actually I had a bitter memory about this. That was the very first few years I came to Japan, I worked in a Japanese company which made me travel abroad for business every few weeks. One day, I had to go abroad again for about 2 weeks. I noticed I forgot to throw the kitchen garbage until the very moment I was about to depart. Leaving the kitchen garbage in the house for two weeks would be so risky (for them to get rotten), so I just threw them at the garbage spot outside. When I was back from the business trip and checked my mailbox, I found a note in it filled with angry words saying like “Please follow the rules! The crows disturbed us so heavily!” Japan is a very friendly and polite country in my first impression, that was the very first rage I felt from people here, and it gave me a very hard lesson.Whose bad? Mine of course. Don’t follow in my footsteps like that.
Many problems crows brought
The longer I live here, the more I know about the crow. Some of my friends said that her sandwich was grabbed by the flying crow when she was having a picnic. Some friends said the crow often flies to their balcony to “rob” their clothes. Some friend even said one day when she was the only person crossing a narrow road, the crow on the other side flew on to her head suddenly. That time she just came to Japan for the first few weeks, this experience made her frightened everytime she crossed a small road.
My most impressive memory about the crow was one day when I was in my house. That time I was living on the 21th floor of the building which I thought was high enough for most creatures. One day, I sat beside the window facing the balcony, the wind outside was very strong. Suddenly I found a black shadow came under my eyes, one big crow! It was perched on the corner of the balcony railing, feathers blown by the wind heavily but standing very firm, looking down with its deep dark eyes which seemed very focused. Even though it didn’t do any harm to me at that time, it gave me the impression that it was the king or a very great being, looking down on the small creatures of humans below, including me beside it.
The crows brought so many problems to the city that it even became one of the slogans some Party representatives raised when they tried to attract more votes for them. “Vote for us, we will drive the crows away”.
There came “rival” birds in town
The story doesn’t end at this. Recently I watched the news on TV. It is said that now there came another strong “rival” bird to fight with the crows for the territory in the city – the ring-necked parakeet. Whoa, is this a Godzilla vs. Kong or something? was my first reaction when I saw the news. Ring-necked parakeet is a parrot who still loves the living environment of the city full of greens. Through the observation of citizens, it is said that they are also not afraid of humans at all, same with the crow. It is also said they can fly at a speed of 70 km hourly and are very flexible to make sharp turns while flying. The spaces of the city are limited, the professional people even predicted the war between the two kinds of birds will become more and more intense in the new future.
I have mixed feelings about the hostility we take to crows and the parrots, they are just one of the animals on the earth like us ,after all. But at the same time I feel frightened as well. Most ideally, I hope we can invent a Win-Win-Win way out.