Living Things Overview

Wildlife You Can Encounter in Japan's Rich Natural Landscapes

Image of a racoon dog
Photo:Raccoon dog

Japan is a country overflowing with beautiful natural landscapes, with approximately 70% of its land area covered in mountains and forests. Because of this it's possible to experience a great deal of nature through tourism.
Upon visiting the country, you'll find that many wild animals still live in the wilderness of Japan.
There's raccoons, foxes, wild boars, macaques, and deer, and wild bears can be found in some areas of the country, so be sure to exercise caution when exploring the vast expanses of nature in Japan.

You can also see a variety of other wild animals throughout Japan.
Noma horses, rabbit, finless porpoises, various species of deer, goats, serows, wild boards, foxes, raccoons, badgers, martens, wild cats, Japanese black bears, brown bears, seals, squirrels, chipmunks, flying squirrels, sugar gliders, mice, bats, and more!

Japan is home to more than 100 species of mammals, 550 species of birds, 80 species of reptiles, 64 species of amphibians, 32,000 species of insects, and 4,000 species of fish.

Japan is home to more endemic species than any other country in the world with 131 species, beating out the 110 of the Galapagos Islands.
Japanese serow, copper pheasants, rock ptarmigan, amami rabbits, the Japanese giant salamander, dormice, and the small Japanese field mouse are just a few of the many species endemic to Japan.

Animals in danger of extinction due to the destruction of nature in recent years are called endangered species, and there are 3,690 confirmed endangered species across Japan.
The green sea turtle, Oriental stork, Northern goshawk, Japanese hawks, Japanese pond turtle, Asian black bear, sea otter, lethocerus deyrollei, Blakiston's fish owl, Sakhalin taimen, and the Okinawa rail are some of the most well-known endangered species, and the imbalance of Japan's ecosystems due to over-hunting is one of the primary reasons for their extinction.

Other rare animals are also designated by the government as protected species.
Among them, those with particularly high global and national value are designated as special protected species.
Serow, otters, Iriomote cats, the Amami rabbit, the crested ibis, Oriental stork, red-crowned crane, short-tailed albatross, crested serpent eagle, rock ptarmigan, Okinawa woodpecker, Bonin white-eye, Japanese white-eyes, and the Japanese giant salamander are just a few of the 21 species that are designated as special protected species.

Interact With Animals at One of Japan's Many Zoos

Image of a panda

Facilities that allow visitors to get up close and personal with animals are also popular with visitors to Japan, according to TripAdvisor's "Top 10 Zoos in Japan 2019."

No. 1 Noichi Zoological Park [Konan City, Kochi Prefecture]
No. 2 Adventure World [Shirahama, Wakayama Prefecture]
No. 3 Asahiyama Zoo [Asahikawa, Hokkaido]
No. 4 Kobe Animal Kingdom [Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture]
No. 5 Kakegawa Flower and Bird Park (Kakegawa Kachoen) [Kakegawa City, Shizuoka Prefecture]
No. 6 Shizuoka Municipal Nihondaira Zoo [Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture]
No. 7 Tama Zoological Park [Hino, Tokyo]
No. 8 Izu Shaboten Zoo [Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture]
No. 9 Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens [Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture]
No. 10 Nasu Animal Kingdom [Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture]

At these zoos, you can see pandas, koalas, lions, red pandas, elephants, tigers, giraffes and other popular animals right before your eyes!

Get up Close and Personal With Wildlife

There are also places where you can interact with wild animals in addition to commercial tourist facilities.
Miyajima (Itsukushima Shrine) in Hiroshima Prefecture, one of Japan's three most scenic spots along with Matsushima and Amanohashidate, is home to around 600 wild deer, and Ogijima Island in Kagawa Prefecture's Seto Inland Sea is a small island with a population of less than 200 people, but it is popular with tourists because it has more cats than people!
Okunoshima, located in Takehara, Hiroshima, is home to more than 700 rabbits and is another popular destination for tourists.

Whale watching in Usa, where you can observe whales up close and personal, is another popular activity.

Animals That Are Popular Overseas

Image of an Akita Inu
Photo:Akita Inu

Pets with Japanese roots are also popular overseas.
The popularity of Japanese dogs is currently growing due to their cuteness, and high level of loyalty to their owners, both of which set them apart from their western counterparts. There are six breeds of Japanese dogs: the Shiba Inu, Akita Inu, Hokkaido Inu, Kai Ken, Kishu, and Shikoku Inu, all of which are endemic to Japan.
The most popular cat in Japan is the Japanese Bobtail, which is said to have been the model for maneki neko.
Many Japanese traditions and cultures that have been passed down through the generations are closely associated with animals.
Falconry, which has been favored by nobles, including emperors and warlords, involves training golden eagles, goshawks, hawks, and falcons to catch rabbits, wolves, and foxes.
There is also "yabusame" (horseback archery), in which arrows are shot at targets from a galloping horse.
These are some of the most popular events in Japan, and these traditional cultures are now showcased at events and festivals.

Another traditional Japanese creature is the Koi.
Koi (colored carp) are carp that have been modified for use as an ornamental fish, and are named for their brightly colored bodies, resembling nishiki (a silk fabric woven with various colored threads).
Called "living gems" and "swimming works of art," koi have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially among wealthy people overseas, and the export value of koi from Japan has almost doubled in the last 10 years (as of 2019*).

In addition to animals, many insects and plants can be found throughout Japan.
Tens of thousands of species of insects are said to live in Japan.
Rhinoceros beetles, stag beetles, swallowtail butterflies, cicadas, ladybugs, suzumushi, dragonflies, grasshoppers, fireflies, and praying mantises are some of the most popular insects in Japan.
The Japanese archipelago is home to around 7,000 species of plants, of which around 2,900 are endemic to Japan alone.
Unfortunately, similar to animals, there are many plants that have been designated as endangered species.

Videos of animals and pets are also very popular on internet video sites.
You can find a variety of videos of animals, including interesting videos of popular pets, such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and hamsters, as well as videos of animals performing amazing feats, or videos of cute animals to help one relax.

COOL JAPAN VIDEOS is a site that introduces the charms of Japan through popular videos about the wildlife of Japan!