Kansai region, Japan

I spent three days in Kansai region of Honshu last week. I had meetings during the day, so could get outdoors only at night and early in the morning. A few good locations:

  1. Beechney Primeval Forest is just an hour’s drive from Kyoto. I saw lots of sika deer and raccoon dogs driving around at night, and a Japanese flying squirrel at 35.353382N 135.782054E. Other people report martens etc.
  2.  Kawachi-no-Fuketsu cave (35.251917 N 136.352730E) had lots of hibernating Rhinolophus ferrumequinum. It reportedly has hundreds of Murina hilgendorfi in March-April. Saw a marten and a fox along the access road.
  3.  Miyama-Gujo Cave (35.750538N 137.023393E, open April-November 9:00-15:30, closed Thursday, 421 Hachimanchō Miyama, Gujō-shi, Gifu-ken 501-4452, phone 0575-68-2321) had lots of R. ferrumequinum, three R. pusillus cornutus, and three M. hilgendorfi.
  4.  Mt. Nogohaku (35.77939N 136.518433E) is the closest place to Kyoto to get above the tree line. The narrow but paved access road had serow, bear, raccoon dog, lots of foxes, and the largest and most beautiful sika deer I’ve ever seen. Looks like a great place for small mammals (I found some old molehills apparently made by mountain shrew-mole), but I’ll never know because one of the foxes checked my trapline. Road closed in winter.
  5. Mt. Katsuragi (34.347314N 135.434590E) is just 45 min from Kansai Airport. Saw a few hares at night and a squirrel at dawn.Strangely, small rodents and shrews seemed completely absent, I didn’t see a single fresh burrow or track and trapping rate was zero. Don’t know if it’s bad year, bad time, or bad luck.

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