[Flashback/Flashforward: Here is my (Loren Coleman's) overview of Brent Swancer, first published over a year ago. I suggested to the ownership of Cryptomundo the bringing abroad of Brent as an infrequent writer of blog postings. You have begun to see his output here, now and then, as his teaching schedule allows.]
In another installment of the Cryptomundo series, “Men in Cryptozoology,” today (February 17, 2009) I profile a guest blogger who has become now well-known to readers for his excellent discussions of Japanese cryptids (as Brent Swancer) and long analytic comments (as Mystery Man).
Brent Swancer, pictured near his home, with Mt. Fuji in the background.
Brent Swancer was born in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in 1973. At a young age, his family moved to California, and he was raised for the majority of his childhood in the multicultural environment of the San Francisco Bay Area.
As a youth, Swancer became fascinated with animals and nature. He enjoyed exploring the local woods, examining lizards and bugs. At zoos or aquariums, he would spend hours staring at the various species, well past the point that most other people wanted to go home.
His interest in nature was fully encouraged by his parents, who would take him on frequent camping, hiking, and fishing trips. They would also give him books on various topics pertaining to the natural world.
Brent Swancer, interviewed for this profile, noted that, “It was through these books that I was first introduced to the world of cryptozoology. My imagination was captured by the works of such authors as you, Loren Coleman and others, like Ivan T. Sanderson, which I read avidly. Cryptozoology further bolstered my already burgeoning interest in the natural world, helping me to forge this fascination into a lifelong pursuit. I have been passionately studying biology and zoology ever since.”
As Swancer began his university years, he found he had to choose a language for a requirement. Not content to take a language in the crowded classes of Spanish and French, he chose something different from what everyone at the time was studying. Swancer picked Japanese, being taught in a small class of 10 students.
It was a choice that was to change the course of his life forever. With great enthusiasm and charm, Swancer’s Japanese teacher painted a spellbinding picture of the country, its culture, and traditions. He found himself captivated by Japan, a country which until then was little known to him. What had started out as a simple class for credits ended up enthralling him, and causing him to go beyond his mere requirements. He took several extra courses in Japanese, and worked as a volunteer English tutor for Japanese students studying abroad.
Upon graduating, Brent Swancer found himself at a crossroads in his life. He writes, “Things were not working out very well career wise at home, and part of me yearned for something different far away. A Japanese friend suggested I try Japan and I made a seemingly whimsical idea become a realistic option.
“In 1996, I left America to pursue a new life overseas in Japan after many false starts and much deliberating. I have been there ever since. Although I have faced many language and cultural hurtles during my long stay, I have always seen it as an ongoing learning process as well as an adventure.
“Over the years in Japan, I studied biology and continued my efforts to learn the finer points of the Japanese language, which I now speak fluently. I have developed an interest in Japanese folklore, and have taken courses on Japanese gardening, karate, and calligraphy, as well. Best of all, I met a beautiful, intelligent woman, fell in love, we married, and today I have a wonderful wife and child.”
Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He maintains a special scientific interest in isolated ecosystems such as islands and lakes, and is also particularly interested in rare, unique, obscure, or unusual animals. Although he has a special place in his heart for Japanese cryptids, his cryptozoological interests are quite diverse, running from Sasquatch and giant snakes, to Tasmanian tigers and creatures of the deep. Swancer advocates a critical approach to cryptozoology, and hopes to see it become more accepted as a legitimate scientific field.
Brent Swancer is currently a teacher in Japan. He is also frequently involved in researching the effects of introduced or invasive species on indigenous wildlife in Japan. Swancer juggles his career, research, and various studies with the responsibilities of having a family with a young daughter. He lives in a semi-rural neighborhood outside of Tokyo proper.
Beginning almost two years ago, as a guest blogger, Brent Swancer’s offerings have been diverse and interesting. As of February 2009, Swancer’s blogging has seen the following output:
Honshu Wolf Survival – March 8, 2007
Cryptomundians talk hybrids – November 26, 2007
Otter Unknown Kappa – March 7, 2008
Tsushima Cat – March 8, 2008
Iriomote Cat – March 8, 2008
Tsuchinoko – October 30, 2008
Tsuchinoko, Part 2 – November 2, 2008
Japanese Sea Lion – November 8, 2008
Japan’s Yeti: Hibagon – November 20, 2008
The Mysterious Ainu – December 6, 2008
The Ainu and the Kennewick Man – December 8, 2008
Akkorokamui – January 18, 2009
Tentacles – January 25, 2009
Yamapikarya Part 1 – February 6, 2009
Yamapikarya Part 2 – February 7, 2009
Brent Swancer is shown with his family – wife Chie and his daughter Jasmine – along with an unidentified cryptid spotted at the 25th celebration of the Japanese version of Disneyland. Unaware of the behavioral characteristics of this cryptid, Brent is very protective of his daughter, who, being a good cryptozooologist-in-training, sported cryptic ears to blend into her surroundings. (Caption by Loren Coleman.)