By Natalie Laber
Here’s a thought: what the dickens is up with kamoshika?
I don’t know why, in my head, for this whole past year I’ve been picturing the kamoshika as Ashitaka’s deer Yakul from Princess Mononoke: a big, tawny elk with massive horns, a cute red nose, and a strong sense of loyalty to his human BFF. If you’ve never watched Princess Mononoke, spoiler alert, you’re going to love Yakul.
But the kamoshika – also known as the Japanese serow according to Wikipedia, although my word processor is highlighting serow as a typo so maybe not? – has none of Yakul’s majestic dignity. The kamoshika is a weird, shaggy, bow-legged “goat-antelope” (sounds fake, but okay) that walks around looking like the ill-begotten love child of a goat and a wolf.
Scroll through the top image results for kamoshika on Google and you’ll kind of see what I mean, but truly just wait until you see one in real life and all will become clear. They’re bizarre. They have short legs and short horns and very long fur, and they walk like grandpa goats. Or maybe the one I saw really was a grandpa, and they don’t all walk like that.
In any case I finally saw a kamoshika last week and it was underwhelming, because in reality anything would be underwhelming compared to Yakul. I guess the moral of the story is that I should work on my expectation management, because life is not a children’s movie, and not all woodland creatures are cute.