Japan Nature

Birding Japan

Japan – there is nowhere else on earth quite like it. Japan has been described as a “cultural Galapagos,” a complex archipelago of isolated islands where a unique and rich culture has developed over centuries in relative isolation. Any visiting birder will find him/herself immersed in the culture of this land of unexpected habits and unknowable manners.

Along with this unique culture, Japan is home to a rich natural history and a mouth-watering list of endemic and near-endemic birds. There are sixteen endemics and a host of other special birds that will beckon the traveling naturalist. One of the interesting things about Japan is that birding trips in winter or in spring will both yield entirely different lists of birds with almost no overlap. On a winter trip the main attractions are undoubtedly the mass gatherings of various crane species in the southernmost of the main islands, Kyushu and the annual migration of the awe inspiring Steller’s Sea Eagles to the northernmost island of Hokkaido. This coupled with large numbers of many species of wildfowl and reliable sightings of Blakiston’s Fish Owl (the world’s largest) makes a winter visit very attractive to birders and photographers alike. On the other hand, a spring visit is a must for the many and varied Japanese endemics. A spring visit will likely take in visits to a number of different islands including Honshu, Kyushu, Okinawa, Amami Ō-shima, and Miyakejima or Hachijojima in the Izu Archipelago. Each island will deliver a different wildlife experience as well as a different cultural immersion. Credit: Susan Myers.

What to See in Japan


Notable Birds in Japan (click species name to see related articles)

  • Blakiston’s Fish Owl
  • Steller's Sea Eagle


Notable Mammals and Other Wildlife

Japanese Macaque, Siberian flying Squirrel, FlyingFox, Fruit bats, Raccoon Dog, Ussuri Brown Bear, Common Seal, Silka Deer, Wild Boar, Japanese Serow, Small Indian Mongoose, Northern Pika


Other Attractions


Where and When to Go


Nature & Birding Hotspots in Japan

Winter:

  • Mass gatherings of various crane species in the southernmost of the main islands, Kyushu
  • Annual migration of the awe inspiring Steller’s Sea Eagles to the northernmost island of Hokkaido.

Spring:

  • A spring visit will likely take in visits to a number of different islands including Honshu, Kyushu, Okinawa, Amami Ō-shima, and Miyakejima or Hachijojima in the Izu Archipelago. Each island will deliver a different wildlife experience as well as a different cultural immersion.



Japan Ecolodges/Accommodations


Best Time to Go


Visit Japan


Resources