Cranes in the Kushiro Marshlands

Kushiro Marsh (Crane Spotting)

An encounter with japan‘s rare and enchanting red-crowned cranes

Birdwatchers from all over the world make their way to the Kushiro Marshlands in Japan to catch a glimpse of the magnificent tancho, or Japanese red-crowned crane. These beautiful birds are a sight to behold, and the Kushiro Marshlands is the only place in the world where they can be found all year round. With its breathtaking scenery, diverse wildlife, and unique ecosystem, the Kushiro Marshlands is truly a haven for nature enthusiasts.

The Kushiro Marshlands cover a vast area between Kushiro City and the inland town of Shibecha, spanning over 50 kilometers to the north. This expansive wetland is best explored by car, as it allows visitors to navigate through its various landscapes and discover hidden gems along the way. However, the area is also accessible by train, bus, or airplane, making it convenient for travelers coming from different parts of Japan.

The red-crowned cranes, also known as Grus japonensis, are the pride and joy of the Kushiro Marshlands. These majestic birds can grow up to 160cm tall and weigh around 10.5kg. With wingspans measuring an incredible 250cm, they are a sight to behold when they take flight. The red-crowned cranes are considered a symbol of fidelity as they mate for life, a rarity among the avian species.

Despite their endangered status, the number of red-crowned cranes in the Kushiro Marshlands has steadily increased over the years. From just ten pairs in the 1920s, there are now over 1,000 of these magnificent birds residing in the wetlands. With a keen eye, visitors can usually spot these cranes casually feeding in roadside fields, showcasing their grace and elegance.

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One of the best times to visit the Kushiro Marshlands is during the winter season. The cranes tend to flock more during this time, increasing the chances of encountering them. There are several feeding sites in the area where the birds gather in large numbers, with the Tsurui-Ito sanctuary being the most famous. This sanctuary provides a safe haven for the cranes to feed and rest, allowing visitors to observe them up close without disturbing their natural habitat.

The winter landscape in the Kushiro Marshlands is truly a sight to behold. As the snow blankets the wetlands, creating a serene and ethereal atmosphere, the red-crowned cranes dance gracefully amidst the white backdrop. This magical display of nature’s beauty is a photographer’s dream, as it offers endless opportunities to capture stunning images of these magnificent birds in their natural habitat.

Apart from the red-crowned cranes, the Kushiro Marshlands is home to a wide variety of other wildlife. From rare species of plants to elusive animals such as the Hokkaido brown bear and the Ezo red fox, the wetlands harbor a rich biodiversity that is seldom seen elsewhere. The area is also renowned for its diverse bird population, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. Over 300 species of birds can be found in the marshlands, including the endangered white-tailed sea eagle and the black woodpecker.

Exploring the Kushiro Marshlands is an adventure in itself. The beautiful drive through the wetlands offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, with its rolling hills, tranquil lakes, and meandering rivers. Along the way, visitors can stop at various observation points to admire the scenery and catch a glimpse of the wildlife. The Akan International Crane Center is another must-visit destination, where visitors can learn more about the red-crowned cranes and their conservation efforts.

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The Kushiro Marshlands is not just a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, but also for nature lovers in general. The wetlands offer a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life, allowing visitors to reconnect with nature and appreciate its wonders. Whether it’s taking a leisurely stroll along the boardwalks, going on a boat tour to explore the marshes, or simply sitting by the lakeside and soaking in the tranquility, there are plenty of ways to immerse oneself in the beauty of this natural paradise.

In addition to its natural attractions, the Kushiro Marshlands also offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Japan. The area is home to the indigenous Ainu people, who have inhabited these lands for centuries. Visitors can learn about their traditional way of life, including their unique customs, crafts, and cuisine. The Kushiro Ainu Culture Museum is a great place to start, as it showcases the Ainu’s rich cultural heritage through various exhibits and demonstrations.

When visiting the Kushiro Marshlands, it’s important to respect and preserve the delicate ecosystem of this pristine environment. Visitors are advised to follow the designated trails, refrain from disturbing the wildlife, and dispose of trash responsibly. By practicing responsible tourism, we can ensure that future generations will continue to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of this unique natural wonder.

In conclusion, a visit to the Kushiro Marshlands is a truly unforgettable experience. From the rare and enchanting red-crowned cranes to the breathtaking landscapes and diverse wildlife, this hidden gem in Japan offers a glimpse into the wonders of nature. Whether you’re a birdwatcher, a nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, the Kushiro Marshlands will leave you in awe of its beauty and serenity. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and embark on an adventure to witness the magnificence of Japan’s red-crowned cranes in their natural habitat.

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Address And Maps Location:

Tsurui, Akan-gun, Hokkaido

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