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Article Kuma-bori Bear Carvings


JREF Editor
15 Mar 2002
JREF submitted a new Article:

Kuma-bori Bear Carvings

Bori-kuma (熊彫り, also known as 北海道 木彫り熊 Hokkaidō kubori kuma) are wooden carvings of bears that usually eat or bite into chum salmons. They were popular souvenirs of Hokkaido, the second-largest and northernmost island of the Japanese archipelago. The winters there are particularly severe with lots of snow, frost, and frozen lakes; the summers too are much cooler than in other parts of Japan.

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It is said that almost every home in Japan had a bori-kuma. After the Second World War Hokkaido turned into a favoured tourist destination. Lots of travellers acquired wooden bear carvings as souvenirs for friends and family. The most famous carving is that of a bear holding a salmon in his mouth. Other woodcrafts depict wild or growling bears. As Hokkaido is home to wild bears, quite a few sculptors drew from their own experiences of bear encounters.

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