Birdwatching in the Tokyo Area
Yatsu-higata is one of the best known sites for shorebird watching in the Tokyo area. Almost any species of wader on the Japanese list can, or has, appeared here, although regular visits throughout the migration seasons are required to see the full range of species that drop in here.
To reach Yatsu-higata take the Keiyo line train from Tokyo station and get off at Minami-funabashi station (30 minutes on local train), then a 15-minute walk. Check tide times before you go (monthly tide tables are on the website) -- try to arrive about 2 hours before high tide.
For spring migration April and May are best, while in autumn August and September offer a good range of species. Frequently seen species include: Grey-tailed Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone, Eastern Black-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Stint and Great Knot.
Saunders's Gull is sometimes present during winter.
To reach Sanbanze, take the Keiyo line train from Tokyo station and get off at Futamata-shinmachi station (25 minutes by local train), then a 30-minute walk to Tokyo Bay. Taxis are available, and there is a bus service nearby. This place is called Funabashi Kaihin Koen in Japanese. Check tide times before you go -- try to arrive about 2 hours before high tide (monthly tide tables are on the Yatsu-higata website).
Birds to look for include: waders/shorebirds (including flocks of the eastern race of Oystercatcher), ducks, grebes and sometimes Saunders's Gull in winter. Sanbanze is one of the few places in the Tokyo area where Oystercatchers are regular during the winter months.
Kasai Rinkai Koen
For Kasai Rinkai Park, take a Keiyo Line train from Tokyo station and get off at Kasai Rinkai Koen station (park entrance is right next to the station).
Birds to look for include: grebes, ducks, gulls, thrushes, and Azure-winged Magpie.
Take a Keio Line train from Shinjuku Station to the end of the line at Takao-san-guchi (about 60 minutes by express). Follow people to the plaza where there you will find the cable car station entrance/gift shops. There is a detailed hiking map of Takao-san here from where you can choose your trail. Walk the many trails to the top -- but note that the main trails will be crowded (and hence mostly birdless) at weekends.
Birds to look for include: Japanese Green Woodpecker, Copper Pheasant, Japanese Grosbeak, White-bellied Green Pigeon, and buntings. In summer: Japanese Paradise Flycatcher, Blue & White Flycatcher and Narcissus Flycatcher, Asian Stub-tail and Eastern Crowned Warbler.
Tama River (Tama-gawa) at Seisekisakuragaoka
Take a Keio Line train from Shinjuku Station to Seisekisakuragaoka station (30 minutes by express train). It is about a 15 minute-walk to the Tama-gawa (the train crosses over the river just before arriving at the station).
Birds to look for include: various dabbling ducks, Long-billed Plover, Northern Goshawk, Japanese Wagtail, Buff-bellied Pipit, and buntings.
© 2012 Mark Brazil & Chris Cook
Last updated: 20120822