Japan is undoubtedly overpopulated, but the feeling is made worse by the fact that the 126 million people living there are crammed into the tiny area of flat terrain, which is ideal for coastal ribbon development and inland urban sprawl. Nevertheless, there are spots that are widely known for their indigenous wildlife even inside these coastal lowlands and populated areas. Just keep in mind that, unless one arrives early in the morning on weekdays, looking for wildlife there usually means being surrounded by a lot of other people. As Japan has grown to be a popular tourist destination, try to avoid weekends and national holidays, both those of Japan and those of neighboring Asian nations.
The same guiding principles for wildlife observation apply even in more crowded parks and at heavily used riverbanks and shorelines. Move slowly, look for calmer paths and trails, frequently survey the area with your eyes and binoculars, and pay close attention to the birds and other sounds that might indicate the presence of your prey. Take every chance to travel inland, away from the coasts, and look for serene valleys and mountain routes. This will get easier as time goes on because so much of the countryside is losing human habitation.
Notably, the majority of wildlife species stay away from people, their farmed animals, and their pet animals. Where there is a lot of human activity, many mammals become more nocturnal, and even most birds become more active in the morning and evening. Being outside from before dawn until after sunset will greatly boost your chances of successfully observing wildlife. Avoid the hottest portion of the day as it is frequently too hot for much wildlife activity, especially in the summer (although this time may be utilized to look for butterflies and dragonflies).
Even nocturnal animals tend to be more active in the hours right after sunset and right before sunrise, but be warned that for those not used to it, Japan’s daylight time can be a little perplexing. Japan has observed Japan Standard Time since 1888, a uniform time observed year-round throughout the whole nation. Despite Kyushu and the Nansei Shot being far to the west of Tokyo and the majority of Hokkaido being far to the east, there is only one time zone and no daylight saving time.
Because of its time zone, Japan is not in time with parts of Russia that are immediately to its north and northwest. This indicates that midwinter first light may occur about 06:30 and last light before 16:30, whereas midsummer first light may occur around 03:00 and last light a little before 20:00. Use a sunrise-sunset app on your phone to schedule your viewing and keep this timing in mind as you plan your outings. You will encounter a significant deal of regional variety in conditions in Japan because of its seasonality and duration. Make sure you are adequately outfitted with clothing that will protect you from the extreme cold, wind, rain, snow, and heat.
Keep in mind that most species respond to color (birds especially), movement, or identifiable patterns in addition to being out early and late and moving slowly. Wear muted or neutral colors instead when looking for birds and mammals because insects don’t seem to respond to color, even though camouflaged clothes may be a little too severe for the ordinary naturalist. Although they have poor color vision, mammals have incredibly sensitive noses, hence wind direction is crucial. Anytime you can, approach mammals from the downwind side since they can be less alarmed by your presence before they see you.
Binoculars are a fantastic tool for observing wildlife, and I highly suggest choosing a pair with an objective lens between 32 and 50 mm and an increase in magnification of 8x or 10x. When seeing marshes, coastal regions, and even forests, a tripod-mounted telescope (30x to 60x magnification) is a huge aid. Binoculars will not give you a pleasant view as near as a telescope will. When using such optical tools, it is not required to get close to wildlife. However, even with the longest lenses, photographers will undoubtedly want to go closer to their subjects in the hopes of getting better pictures.
Nevertheless, be aware that such pictures may genuinely injure and disturb wildlife in a permanent way. Please employ fieldcraft and stealth, think about the wellbeing of your subjects, and hide or blind yourself to avoid disturbing your quarry. Observe your subject’s behavior closely to make sure that it is not being overly stressed by your presence (at whatever distance).