Golden Kamuy Wikia
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The Matagi (又鬼) are traditional winter hunters of the Tōhoku region of northern Japan, most famously today in the Shirakami-Sanchi forest between Akita and Aomori.



The Matagi hunt deer and bear, and their culture has much in common with the bear worship of the Ainu. They live in small hamlets of the mountain beech forests of Tōhoku and engage in agriculture during the planting and harvest season. In the winter and early spring, they form hunting bands that spend weeks at a time in the forest. With the introduction of guns in the 20th century, the need for group hunting for bear has diminished, leading to a decline in Matagi culture.

Matagi hamlets are found in the districts of Nishitsugaru and Nakatsugaru (Aomori Prefecture), Kitaakita and Senboku (Akita Prefecture), Waga (Iwate Prefecture), Nishiokitama and Tsuruoka (Yamagata Prefecture), Murakami and Nakauonuma (Niigata Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture).

The Matagi are attested from the medieval period but continue to hunt today. They have come into conflict with environmentalists now that the forest has been partly cleared. They no longer hunt the Japanese serow, which is protected, but continue to hunt bear. Matagi hunt by special license.


  • Aoshishi: the Matagi term for serow, which they would hunt.
  • Itazu: the Matagi term for bears.
  • Kane mochi: a variant of the regular mochi which methods of creation varies from each Matagi villages.
  • Kuragee: a pouch that Matagi use to carry food.
  • Masuke: a knife Matagi carry with them, which they consider an incredibly important object.
  • Matsumae:hunters that carry guns to take down the target.
  • Mukaimatte: a hunter whose job it is to give orders and keep an eye out.
  • Seko: hunters that do not carry guns, but whose role it is to shout at the target and drive it in front of the hunters carrying guns.


When Matagi hunt, they do it by encircling and driving their prey. There's one hunter called Mukaimatte whose job is to give orders and keep an eye out. There are two hunters carrying guns called Matsumai. Then there are two more hunters without guns called Seko. The job of the Seko is to shout at the target and drive it in front of the Matagi who are carrying guns.

There's a Matagi saying, "sink into the bark." When a hunter is waiting in ambush for his prey, he should become one with the trees, lose himself among the leaves and branches and disappear.

By Matagi custom, the hunter that killed the bear gets to drink its blood. It raises body temperature and makes for a strong and healthy body. The blood was also dried, powdered, and used as medicine.


Goddess of the Mountain[]

Matagi worship the goddess who they believe is a guardian of the mountains called Goddess of the Mountain (山の神, Yama no Kami). She is mistress of both animals and also of the wild world of the mountains, she is a kind of guardian of the Matagi. It can take the form of any animal or human, and it has the mortal jealousy of any woman. To make sure the goddess does not become jealous, the Matagi wash away all scents of women before going into the mountains to hunt.


The Matagi had an involved system of chants and ritual actions designed to guide the spirit of the bear to the afterlife and avoid being cursed by its spirit. These included facing the bear to the north and rubbing it with a stick before chanting a number of set phrases ending with a chant.

Be born anew into the next world, and hear only the best things.

— A Matagi chant


  • Specialized Matagi hunting vocabulary contains Ainu words. The word matagi itself may be of Ainu origin, coming from matangi or matangitono, "man of winter, hunter".

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