7-year-old Yamato Tanooka was found alive, exhausted but uninjured, early Friday morning in a remote cabin in the mountains of Hokkaido, Japan—nearly a full week after being left by his parents on the side of the road.

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Reporting him missing on Saturday, May 28, Tanooka’s parents first told police that he had wandered off while the family foraged for wild vegetables in the woods. They eventually changed their story, saying that he had been left on the side of the road in order to scare him after he got caught throwing stones at cars. They say they returned soon after, only to find him gone.

Tanooka was found—about three miles from the road—in a cabin on a remote military base by three soldiers from the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force. He was fed with rice balls and tea while waiting for rescue workers to arrive. Officials say he survived the week by drinking water from a nearby stream.

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According to the New York Times:

The boy’s parents have faced harsh public criticism over the case, which has been covered intensively by the Japanese news media since his disappearance.

“I’m full of gratitude. From now on, I’m going to take better care of him as he grows up,” Yamato’s father, Takayuki Tanooka, 44, said in comments on NHK, the national broadcaster. Some 200 police officers and volunteer rescue workers had been searching for the boy.

It remains unclear whether or not the boy’s parents will face criminal charges for leaving him on the side of the road. It is, however, certain that Yamato Tanooka’s inevitable memoir or biography will be the next My Side of the Mountain.


Image via the NKH.