Japan is recognized for its marvelous culture and connects with nature even in today’s world. The place is exquisite and diverse. There are a multitude of distinct wildlife species in Japan that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. Given the country’s geographic location, proximity to both the Arctic and the tropics, the wildlife in Japan is a vast and profound treasure. The coasts of Japan are the habitat of some of the most captivating marine creatures in the world. In the jungles of Japanese mountains, you will discover everything from foxes, deer, monkeys to bears and boars.
There are a few endangered species in the country, some of which are indigenous to the island itself. From red-crowned cranes to spider crabs and salamanders, Japan is abundant in peculiar and distinctive animals. The wildlife in the country is associated with numerous myths and folklore, making certain animals to be regarded as messengers of God. Japan has numerous national parks where you can partake in safaris to closely observe these animals. Presently, there are various wildlife tours available that cater to nature enthusiasts, encouraging them to observe the animals in their natural habitat. Certain cruises along the Japanese coastline excel in this endeavor.
10 Exotic Wildlife Species in Japan
Continue reading to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that are essential in encountering the wildlife of Japan. Make sure to encounter at least half of these extraordinary creatures during your trip:
1. Snow Monkeys
Also known as the Jigokudani Monkey Park, this is the prime location to spot some snow monkeys. What sets this species apart is that they are the only primates besides humans that can endure such frigid temperatures. These are undoubtedly some of the rare Japanese animals that everyone gushes about. These monkeys possess a thick fur coat that provides insulation against the cold. They have a brown-grey coloration with red faces. The park is home to various hot springs, where you will find most of them warming themselves.
2. Manta Rays
If you are a enthusiast of deep-sea diving, head to Ishigaki island to dive and witness magnificent Manta Rays swimming in the Pacific waters. Most of the time, you would catch these fish twirling in the water which appears as if they are performing a dance. The contrast against the coral reef creates a brilliant visual experience. There is a location referred to as Manta Scramble on the shores, where you can easily spot Manta Rays due to the presence of coral reef, sea flora and other things. During spring and autumn, the chances of spotting fish here with great visibility is quite high, making it one of the finest Japan wildlife excursions!
3. Hammerhead Sharks
Indeed, you can actually swim with one of the most hazardous creatures in Japan! Referred to as Hammerhead Sharks, these fish gather in the waters off Yonaguni every year from November to May. An interesting fact is that they have almost never attacked a human ever. In fact, they enjoy hunting stingrays. Which is why swimming with these sharks is possible. While hunting, they take their prey to the ocean bed and pin it there with their large, rectangular heads. A sight to behold, these “Hammerhead Sharks” should definitely be a must-experience on your travel plan!
4. Japanese Giant Salamanders
A hidden gem, this secluded place in the Nichinan area is home to the strangest creatures in Japan – the Japanese giant salamander. An average creature of this species can grow up to be about 4.5 feet and a hundred years old. These fascinating creatures have earned themselves the name of “living dinosaurs” as they have remained unchanged for millions of years now. Today, their population is declining, which is why efforts are being made for their preservation. Please note that the breeding season is from mid-August to mid-September, which is why no visits take place during that time.
5. Ocean Eagles
Ocean eagles are one of the uncommon delights of nature in Japan. You can embark on a cruise to observe Steller’s marine eagles. These are the most massive of their species worldwide, weighing up to 9 kilograms. Besides their physical appearance, they are also renowned for their yellow bills. These birds consume cod from the Pacific waters. The prime time to spot these birds is during the winter season, in the months of January and February, when the ice begins to thaw and the number of cod increases in the water.
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6. Red-Crowned Cranes
A vulnerable species, these stunning birds are somewhat challenging to observe naturally. However, visit the Tsurui village which is regarded as the finest place in the whole country to view these cranes. Despite the village’s remote location, it is swarmed with groups of international tourists every year who come to witness one of the rarest Japanese creatures. The bird breeds near the village, so spotting one here should not be as arduous, making this certainly one of those wildlife tours in Japan that you should undertake.
7. Asiatic Bears
One of the most exquisite terrains in the world is situated in this area of Japan. The hills and valleys provide opportunities for short hikes. With snow-capped peaks and a flora and fauna resembling that of the Alps in Europe, this place is a must-visit for every nature enthusiast. Encompassing Mount Fuji and several other mountains, the scenery in this region alters according to the weather. The trails are not overly challenging, but it is more suited for experienced hikers. While you explore the area, stay alert for black Asiatic Bears, as well as plentiful butterflies, eagles, and monkeys in their natural habitat.
8. Yamaneko Wildcat
This distinct species of wildcat is exclusively found on the Iriomote Island in Japan. It was initially observed in 1965 and is certainly one of the most peculiar creatures in Japan. Fairly territorial, these cats are relatively small, almost resembling domestic cats, and roam around during evenings. The Yamaneko cat is an endangered species, related to the leopard but distinct in its own right. It is estimated that there may only be around 100 of them left on Iriomote Island, making spotting them quite a challenge!
One of the world’s biggest aquariums, the Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa is a godsend for every lover of marine life in the world. Housing the most perilous animals in Japan, the aquarium was renovated in 2002. It is renowned for its Kuroshio Tank which houses the largest whales, manta rays, and sharks. This wildlife tank is indeed massive and spans multiple floors, allowing observers to observe the waters at different levels. The entire experience is a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon, which is why it is essential to visit the aquarium when in Okinawa.
10. Birds in Hokkaido
The entire region of Hokkaido is celebrated among nature enthusiasts as a paradise for Japanese wildlife, particularly birds. Abundant with rivers, the area serves as a stopover for migrating birds. You will encounter swans, cranes, plovers, curlews, and many other creatures here. Some places offer river cruises for a closer and more intimate experience. Akan International Crane Centre, Maruyama Park, Shunkunitai Wild Bird Sanctuary are some of the finest places to visit in Japan if you have a fondness for birds.
The Plant Life of Japan
The topography of various islands makes the country a truly diverse destination when it comes to flora as well. In Southern Japan, you will discover subtropical evergreen forests. On the other hand, the northern part, close to the Arctic Circle, is abundant with snow, ferns, and shrubs. You will also find a variety of seaweeds in coastal towns and villages. The cherry blossoms of Japan are a constant feature throughout, which is why visiting Japan in spring is a necessity!
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The variety of Japan makes it an ideal destination for wildlife enthusiasts. There are so many differences in Japanese wildlife that your trip to the country will be truly rewarding. If nothing else, you can explore the animal cafes (featuring cats, dogs, owls, and snakes) in Japan where you can touch and interact with animals. These cafes are extremely popular among Japanese youth. So, plan your trip to Japan with us and seize the best deals available!
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Frequently Asked Questions About Wildlife In Japan
What are some of the different species of wildlife found in Japan?
There are numerous species of wildlife in Japan, including snow monkeys, Manta Rays, Hammerhead sharks, Japanese giant salamanders, sea eagles, Red-crowned cranes, Asian bears, Yamaneko wildcat, whales, Hokkaido birds, and many more.