This bird gave me the first shock during my stay in Tsukuba. The incident happened on the second day I arrived in Ichinoya dorm. When I woke up from my bed, starting to have a fresh new day in the Nippon land, I hear a sharpening yet scary sound from outside.
At first, I thought it was an alarm sound. Soon, I realised that alarm didn't sound that weird. I questioned to myself: is that some sorts of strange beast came from the forest nearby and strolled randomly in the dorm compound ? This may sound strange for you, but in Malaysia, sometimes we encounter wild animals in the dorm, like the monkeys. The monkeys will storm into your room if you forget to lock the windows and they are clever. They look for food like instant noodles or biscuits. I don't experience this but my sister studies in a government university in Kuala Lumpur experienced this. Her cocoa drinks powder (Milo) and some cup noodles were stolen by the Monkey troops. Let's get back to the bird.
So, I entered a "war preparing" mood soon after I had that thought. I observed the surrounding environment through my window, but I didn't see anything noticeable. OK, I just forget about it, maybe it's a random weird sound. Again, I heard that sounds again. This time, I successfully found them. They are black, having larger body size that the common birds and they make noise. Then, a search on Google revealed the true identity of this noisy bird. And it turned out to be -- the CROW (カラス, karasu).
You may wonder why I don't know about the appearance and sound of a crow. The answer is easy: It's rare to see crow in my country. There are many common birds like pigeons, mynas, doves and sparrows. Sure, Malaysia has crows too, but I rarely encounter them. At that morning, I started to notice that there were so many crows in Japan. I see most of them in the parks, woods, and in Ichinoya. Even in Tokyo, you will notice this bird in your sight. Every time I see them, crowds of them were like discussing how to take control over the human, loudly.
Yes, I missed this sound when I come back, although it's annoying.
When I visited Ueno Zoo, I saw some notice on reminding people to beware of the crow.
In the Ueno Zoo as well. One of the classic moment I experienced in Japan. 2 children were talking to each other. Suddenly, one of the boy pointing the white crow poop and said: ONIGIRI.
Then the other boy said: Oiishi.
In fact, crow is a real problem in Japan.
Crow is considered as a pest because it disturbs human life (YES, humans are selfish). These clever crows make nuisance to human by making nest on the electric pole, picking up food waste from garbage, unpleasant noise, and in serious cases, ATTACKING people. There were some reports about people just passing by the crows and were attacked. Besides, the nests of the crows caused electric cut-off in some areas, with one largest in the Kagoshima's central port district. Crow is a clever bird as they can recognise human faces, decoy and evade the human tricks.
Maybe it sounds funny, but the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) do have a specialised team in tackling the crow problems in Tokyo. They published the reports and statistics about the crows, how to decrease the number of crows etc. It's fun to read at this materials. The team even have a webpage on how to distinguish 2 types of crows, based on the sounds they make, body size, distribution area and others. Again, this shows how serious and focus the Japanese in solving a problem. You can go this page by clicking the link in reference.
However, crow has a positive symbolism in East Asia mythology. In the Japan mythology, the crow has 3 legs, and it's called Yatagarasu (八咫烏／やたがらす). It represents the evidence of the will of Heaven or divine intervention in human affairs. There's a picture, showing the great crow was sent from heaven for Emperor Jimmy to guide him along the journey. Japan Football Association and Japan Military Intelligence Command (中央情報隊) have the three-legged crows in their logos as well.
However, in Chinese culture, the crow is a bad omen and bringing bad luck. The people dislike the sounds of a crow especially in negotiation, it means the deal will be disrupted or become a bad negotiation. Some Chinese proverbs used crow as a negative thing, such as 烏鴉嘴 (crow mouth, which means foul mouth), 烏合之衆(crowds of crows, which means a temporary group of undisciplined people), 天下烏鴉一般黑 ( the crows under the sky have the same darkness, meaning of all the bad people are the same).
At last, the annoying effects from the crow are actually from human. Most of the crows depend on the garbage as their food resource. Thus, it's important for the people to reduce the garbage, or at least, cover the garbage with nets (you may notice it in some neighborhood). It's impossible to eradicate all the crows, so we have to learn how to live with them.
TMG crow page (Japanese)