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Last Updated: Monday, 26 January, 2004, 10:08 GMT
Japanese hermit starts afresh
A man who survived for over 40 years eating snakes and frogs in the Japanese countryside has started a new life.

The man, in his 50s, was held on suspicion of attempted theft near Tokyo in September, police said.

"I was starving. I couldn't stand it anymore," the man was quoted as saying by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper.

After the court gave him a suspended sentence, the man has begun working as a builder, under a fisherman he befriended while living in the wild.

The man "did not remember his name, age, or his parent's names," a police official told the AFP news agency.

If I have money, I can get what I want. I learned about the convenience of having money
The arrested man

He also had no idea about the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 or that Emperor Hirohito died in 1989, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.

'Caveman'

The police official said the man was arrested "as he was trying to get money from a soft drink vending machine in Tsukuba City," about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of Tokyo.

Prosecutors found that the man, who came from a very poor farming family, had run away from home at the age of 14.

He took his pet dog, Shiro, with him and began living in a cave in the Ashio copper mine, about 25km (16miles) north of his home, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily said.

He survived by catching snakes, frogs, snails and wild rabbits that he baked and ate, it said.

After his dog died two years later, the man moved to another mountainous area.

Despite losing all his teeth, the man had never suffered any illness, the paper said.

He later ended up living on the bank of a river, sleeping in a shed build by local fishermen who admired him for his fishing skills. He even started earning some money by selling fish to locals, the paper said.




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