Japan in Summer Part I: May 16—30, 2007

Southern Japan & Island Endemics

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Please contact us if you would like more information on upcoming departures for this tour.

Departs: Tokyo
Tour Limit: 8
Download Itinerary: PDF (113.7 KB)

Tour Leaders


Susan Myers

Susan Myers absolutely loves birding and traveling in Asia. As she says, "The combinati...

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Amami Woodcock

Amami Woodcock — Photo: David Bishop

Japan is a land long shrouded in mystery. For many centuries it was a forbidden country into which few foreigners ventured. It remains a land steeped in its unique culture and rituals, which survive and thrive to this day. To many, modern Japan, now the world's second largest economy, appears as an overdeveloped, urbanized, and industrialized land clothed from north to south in factories, housing, and concrete. But Japan is a very mountainous country with many inaccessible regions. The Japanese have traditionally felt a strong affinity with nature, and this has figured prominently in their system of beliefs and culture. It's true that in the last few decades the Japanese have promoted economic growth over preservation of the environment, but, in the mountains and more remote areas of the archipelago, many pristine forests, wetlands, and grasslands remain undisturbed. A growing enthusiasm amongst the Japanese for nature, and bird-watching in particular, has seen more and more efforts to conserve these valuable assets.

Scratch the surface and the real Japan can still be found. Traditional values and practices still remain in rural Japan where the way of life is one of tranquility and serenity, one where nature and mankind can still co-exist in harmony. It is into this natural world that we will venture on this tour. We can expect to experience the true Japan—one that few tourists ever come close to realizing. Rural Japan lacks the 5-star hotels of the larger cities. Here we will stay in traditional Japanese hotels or guesthouses (minshuku). We will experience something of the real Japan, a view away from its over-hyped tourist centers and one that invokes in some a deep sense of belonging.

We will travel from the southern subtropical islands of the Nansei Shoto to the cool, temperate regions of northern Hokkaido. As we travel north with the spring, we will experience the full spectrum of Japan's finest birds when they are at their most conspicuous. Our Japan Endemics tour will allow us to come to grips with some very special birds such as Japanese Yellow Bunting, Green Pheasant, Okinawa Rail, Izu Islands Thrush, and Iijima's Leaf Warbler. The isolation of the islands of Japan has enabled several endemic and near-endemic species to evolve, and we shall endeavor to see the majority of these. On our Summer in Hokkaido tour, the wide expanses of the northern island's wilderness contrasts with the steep-valleyed mountain scenery of the first part of our tour. The beauty of this almost Siberian landscape is complemented by some very exciting birds, notably Spectacled Guillemot, Blakiston's Fish-Owl, and Hazel Grouse. A spring journey from the south to the north of Japan is a fascinating experience and one we will long remember.