There appears to be a happy ending to the folk tale-like story of the Japanese parents who abandoned their naughty 7-year-old son in the forest after all.
Six days after Yamato Tanooka had reportedly “disappeared,” soldiers found the young boy alive though he was left with neither food nor water and dressed in merely a t-shirt and jeans. Somehow, he had survived the cold and rainy wilderness in the forests of Japan’s northernmost island.
Last week, a couple in Japan thought it was a good parenting idea to abandon their son in the Hokkaido forest as punishment for throwing rocks at cars last Saturday. The couple, Mr. and Mrs. Tanooka, notified local authorities that their son, Yamato Tanooka, had gotten lost at the base of an active volcano called Mt. Komagatake.
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According to Daily Mail, a search team of 180 rescuers were dispatched in the area where the parents said they dropped the boy off. Bears are also known to inhabit the Higashionuma mountain range where he was left. The boy was discovered inside an unused military building at the Ground Self-Defense Force Komagatake exercise area, over three miles away from his last reported location.
He was suffering from exhaustion and mild dehydration and told police that he had been drinking water from a tap outside the building. According to reports, Yamato asked for water, bread and rice balls when he was found.
Luckily for him, the door of the base had been left unlocked. The boy likely wandered in and found the two mattresses, which he cleverly slept between probably for warmth. Overnight temperatures in the forest reportedly dropped to the low forties following heavy rainfall that week.
Yamato was airlifted by helicopter to the Hakodate Hospital where he was reunited with his parents. Dr. Yoshiyuki Sakai, the doctor who examined Yamato, told Asahi TV that he seemed to be in good condition for a kid who had not eaten for nearly a week. However, he did suffer from mild dehydration, malnutrition, a rash and scratches on his arms and legs.
During an interview with TV Asahi, Yamato’s father, Takayuki Tanooka, said that he had apologized to his son for abandoning him in the forest. Apparently, he had realized that he had “gone too far.”