Japan: Advice needed

To: "Sonja Ross" <>
Subject: Japan: Advice needed
From: "Jenny Stiles" <>
Date: Tue, 15 Jul 2014 14:31:55 +1000
Thanks very much Sonja,
Nikko was meant to be on my list! It looks well worth a trip to see the intricate temple.

I have taken notes from your and other lists on Eremaea; there are surprisingly few though & none at all for lots of regions [Hiroshima for instance]. There look to be a few promising parks in Tokyo.

I am sure we will have an interesting time.

From Jenny Stiles

-----Original Message----- From: Sonja Ross
Sent: Monday, July 14, 2014 11:03 AM
To: Jenny Stiles
Subject: Japan: Advice needed

Hi Jenny,

My husband and I have been to Japan a couple of times and travelled by train most of the time. It isn't quite as convenient as having a car with drinks etc but the trains run on time and are clean and most have electronic messages near the carriage end alternating between Japanese and English which makes it much easier than the first time we were there.

We were there in February last time, and I found the parks had birds. In Tokyo, I found the gardens near the Meiji Shrine to be good, and some birds in the Shinjuku Goyen National Garden, both of which have the advantage of not being too far from stations. (My lists are on e-Bird).

We did go out to see the snow monkeys and it is a bit "unnatural" in that they are fed, and their pool has been obviously purpose built. It also takes a bit of time to get to it from Nagano (can't remember exactly, but think an hour or so). There was snow when we were there which added to it. I didn't see many birds there, but it was winter.

We enjoyed Nara, and I saw quite a few birds there despite it raining for the time we were there. It is probably a bit less commercial than Kyoto, and there are deer there.

If you end up having time, Nikko is an interesting place to visit, although I didn't see a lot of birds there. My husband enjoyed Okayama Castle (and your boys might too) and you could go for a walk in the park across the river where I saw quite a few species.

I hope that helps, but feel free to email me if you want to know more.


On 14/07/2014, at 10:29 AM, "Jenny Stiles" <> wrote:

Hi All,
I would very much appreciate some advice on travelling to Japan at the end of October this year after my youngest son finishes the HSC. Normally I pick the holidays and have very definite goal in mind, but this time my "men" have chosen but their goals are vague [weird vending machines, cool castles, weird people, snow monkeys, Mt Fuji, Hiroshima, Kyoto] This will be a family holiday, so the only birding will be incidental or to a place that everyone will enjoy! Of course I do hope to sneak some [lots?] in and would also like to see some of the native mammals!! My sons are 23, 21 [has autism] & 18 and are pretty tolerant of birding stops. So far the rough itinerary is as follows: Tokyo [2 or 3 nights], Nikko [1 night], Nagano (to see the snow monkeys*) [1 night], Hakone [1 night], Kyoto [3 nights or maybe 2 & 1 night at Nara], Hiroshima [2 nights], Osaka [1 night] & fly home from there. There is still scope to add in a few more stops or extend the ones I have selected.

I have found it all a bit overwhelming actually, especially thinking about travelling by train and bus rather than a car [used to just stashing suitcases in the hire car, not having them with us!] and I have no idea how to choose hotels, so any recommendations would be extremely welcome. I gather there are not going to be rooms that sleep 5, so I assume we will need 2 rooms? One for my husband and myself & my son with autism & another for my other 2 sons. I hope there are rooms that fit 3 people?

Has anyone been out to see the Snow Monkeys at Jigokudani Yaen-koen? We are really keen to see some Japanese Macaques and it sounds like the scenery is pretty & I hoped to see some birds too, but there is another monkey park in easy reach of Kyoto, so wondered if the Jigokudani Yaen-koen park is worth the extra effort. Lonely Planet gives it a terrible review but visitors posting on Trip Advisor seems to be very happy on the whole.

Any advice of where in the various Tokyo parks would have the best chance of birds would be good too. I have looked on Eremaea to get the names of likely spots, but since I will be dragging non birders about it would be great to have some specific instructions! For instance, the moat around the Imperial Palace looks pretty big so it would be great to know if there is a section that is more likely to have ducks.

Thank you for taking the time to read my email.

From Jenny Stiles, Sydney

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