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Cranes of Kushiro Marshlands (Winter Feeding Sites) in Japan

It's easier to spot the cranes at the winter feeding sites of the national park, the only known place where endangered Japanese Cranes live

Best time: November–March

Cranes of Kushiro Marshlands (Winter Feeding Sites)
Cranes of Kushiro Marshlands (Winter Feeding Sites)

Japanese Cranes, also known as Tancho ('red head' in Japanese), were thought to have gone extinct due to overhunting and farming expansion. However, in the beginning of the 20th century a group of about 20 birds was discovered in the marshes of Kushiro. Since then their number grew to over 1,000 thanks to the conservation efforts. Now the Kushiro Marshland attracts hundreds of photographers and birdwatchers.

It's best to watch cranes when they perform their pair dance, surprisingly choreographed and synchronised. The cranes usually gather around winter feeding sites easily accessible either by car or by public transportation. Feeding takes place once or twice a day, depending on the station.

One of the best spots to go to is the Tancho Observation Center where besides an observation point you can find other facilities such as restroom and a restaurant. Another spot you can choose is Tsurumidai feeding ground.

The area doesn't receive much snowfall even in winter months, but hopefully you are lucky to spot the cranes with the snowy background!

Practical info

When should one visit Kushiro Marshland to witness the nightly pair dance of Japanese Cranes?

Visitors to Kushiro Marshland should plan their visit between the months of November and March to witness the nightly pair dance of the Japanese Cranes. The marshland provides winter feeding sites that attract the cranes during this season, making it easier for visitors to spot them. Watching the cranes perform the pair dance at night is a unique experience that should not be missed. Show more

How has the population of the endangered Japanese Crane in Kushiro Marshlands changed over time?

Thanks to conservation efforts, the endangered Japanese Crane population in Kushiro Marshlands has rebounded from near extinction to over 1,000 individuals. Kushiro Marshlands is their only habitat. Establishing a population estimate for the cranes can be difficult, but that has not stopped hundreds of photographers and birdwatchers from coming to the marshlands. Show more

What transportation options are available to visit the winter feeding sites of Japanese Cranes without a car in Kushiro Marshlands?

Getting to Kushiro Marshlands without a car is easy and convenient with several public transportation options. Visitors can take an express bus to the Kushiro Shitsugen station and transfer to a tourist shuttle bus service to see the winter feeding sites. Alternatively, one can take a train to Kushiro station and then board the shuttle bus service. Taxis are also available for a shorter commute within the area. Show more

What can a visitor expect from visiting the Tancho Observation Center in Kushiro Marshland, and why is it worth a visit?

Bird enthusiasts should not miss the Tancho Observation Center when visiting Kushiro Marshland. The center is a popular spot to watch the Japanese Cranes and offers various facilities such as an observation point, spotting scopes, informative exhibits about the cranes, restrooms, and restaurants. Visitors can watch the feeding at a sheltered area up close without disturbing the birds, making the experience unique and worthwhile. Show more

Which feeding ground is one of the best spots to see dozens of Japanese Cranes gathered together in Kushiro Marshlands?

Tsurumidai feeding ground is among the best spots in Kushiro Marshlands to watch dozens of Japanese Cranes gathered together during winter months. To reach the feeding ground, visitors can take public transportation, an express bus to Kushiro Shitsugen station followed by a tourist shuttle bus service, or a train to Kushiro station and transfer to the shuttle bus. A visit to Tsurumidai allows birdwatchers and photographers a chance to observe the cranes up close. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin