Photo Gallery View as slideshow
We start our tour from Narita on the outskirts of Tokyo…
the area around the airport is charmingly rural…
As we drive to Karuizawa we make stops at the "Road Stations", each cared for by the local people and with an individual charm.
Our vehicle - the one on the right! - is a 10 seater van
We start our explorations in the beautiful forest of Karuizawa
We’re greeted at the entrance by a Siberian Blue Robin
Some of the road signs are amusing…
but maybe accurate!
Spring is well under way and the forests are simply gorgeous
As we travel around we are always aware of Japan’s unique culture; this is a typical farmhouse and lovingly tended garden.
Fields of irises abound in the surrounds of Karuizawa
Even the waterfalls are culturally significant.
Our birding in the Karuizawa area is varied. In the open fields we may encounter Chestnut-eared Buntings as the farmers till the fields.
In the forests small passerines are very vocal. Here a Eurasian Wren announces his territory.
Many of the birds are busy nesting or caring for young. This Grey Wagtail carries nesting material.
The songs of the Blue-and-white Flycatcher fill the forest.
Birding on Mt Fuji is fun but the mountain is the real star!
A small shrine on the slopes of the Fuji pays homage to a mountain spirit.
The stunning Narcissus Flycatcher is found in the forests here.
Our early morning view as we’re out birding is incredible.
Japan is a truly beautiful country…
and traditional Japan is very much in evidence.
The Izu Islands have a handful of endemic species and subspecies..
and occasionally something extraordinary turns up, like this Von Schrenk’s Bittern…
or a roadside dragon!
And we’ll sneak some culture in during our lunch break. Here Susan plays the traditional taiko drums (she’s not very good!)
And yet another amazing meal…
followed by an amazing sunset.
These volcanic islands are a lesson in ecology. Here plant life returns to a lava field following a recent eruption.
A section of the road that circumnavigates Hachijojima is a testament to Japanese know how.
Traditional fishing boats are still very much in use on this island where the sea is the main provider.
The sunsets over the ferry dock…
and the following morning the volcano comes into view.
No need to panic!
We made the local newspaper!
We travel back to Tokyo by ferry. Here we are waiting at the wharf…
And once on board…
we met the captain.
We arrive back in Tokyo, travelling through the Bay at twilight.
Our next destination is Okinawa where we are greeted by the Shisa lion-dogs.
More great food!
The following day we go in search of Okinawa Rail, a bird that is much loved here in the southern island.
Here your leader, Susan poses with another rail.
We take a side trip to the northernmost point of the island, Cape Hedo…
where we find a fearsome deity.
Stunning Ryukyu Robins are common along the roadsides.
We travel by air between islands on Japan. Here is our plane to Amami Ōshima.
Many of the birds and small mammals of Japan are threatened by introduced mongoose but the Busters are after them.
Amami’s charming and odd endemic Black Rabbit is one of our hoped-for sightings…
as is the handsome Lidth’s Jay…
the recently split Owsten’s Flycatcher is a little harder to track down but his distinctive song usually gives him away.
At our next destination on Kyushu, we visit the local and very famous Kirishima Shrine.
Here is our hot pot dinner and very impressive it is!
The forests of the area are lush and beautiful.
Our trip is about more than birds - as you can see, it’s about the culture, the people, the scenery, the flora, and other animals, too.
So come join us in Japan!