The Cranes of Japan
Japanese cranes, although an endangered species, are cherished animals for their beauty as well as for the place they occupy in the Japanese imagination. With a local guide, go and meet them in their natural environment, the Kushiro swamps.
The red-crowned crane, a symbolic animal in Japan
The Japanese crane, also known as the red-crowned crane (called Tancho in Japanese), is one of Japan's most symbolic animals. The species is a symbol of longevity, happiness and luck. They are said to live for 1000 years and to transport souls to heaven.
The first origami one learns is often that of the crane. You fold 1000 of them and put them together in a string, and you get a lucky object that helps to heal the sick. Cranes are also a symbol of love and faithfulness because they stay with the same partner for life.
Above all, anyone who sees Japanese cranes, especially during their courtship, is surprised by their elegance and grace. The Ainu people, who inhabited the island of Hokkaido before the Japanese, had elevated them to the rank of gods and imitated their movements in a dance dedicated to them.
A protected species
The Japanese crane is one of the largest birds in the world, with a height of 150 cm, a wingspan of 250 cm and a weight of 10 kg.
The species has been threatened with extinction. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were only about 40 left. It was a local farmer's initiative in 1950 to care for and feed the cranes that laid the foundation for conservation efforts. With a population of about 1,000 in Japan today, the species is still classified as endangered by the IUCN.
Watching cranes in their natural habitat
Although migratory, a significant number of cranes are resident in Kushiro, so they can be seen throughout the year. Crane watching is popular in winter because of their beauty, enhanced by the snowy backdrop, and because they congregate at sites where they are fed. With a local and expert guide, walk through the Kushiro Marshes, to see these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.
The activity will not be cancelled in case of rain, unless the water levels in the Kushiro River have reached certain levels, or the Kushiro Meteorological Agency has declared a state of alert.
The tour takes place in Kushiro Marshes National Park. Please respect the fauna and flora. When coming into contact with animals, please do not make any big gestures or raise your voice, and no flash photography is permitted.
Please also be aware that encounters with wildlife during the activity are not 100% guaranteed. Your personal items (phones, cameras, etc.) are your responsibility.