Takao-San (Tokyo) Night Safari

Here’s a short report that Chris Cook of Japan Nature Guides forwarded to me about a night on Mount Takao, on the outskirts of Tokyo, in the middle of April. Chris was kind enough to give me some advice with my Japanese Badger quest while I was in Japan. Takao-San sounds like a good spot, especially if you are in Tokyo and don’t have time to travel further afield.


Soon after 2130 last night I began hiking up to the top of Takao-san. The forecast rain held off, but in its place a strong wind was blowing.

On the way up I did not hear any birds — not really a surprise — but I did have some luck with mammals. I heard a Giant Flying Squirrel, but could not locate it among the thick canopy of leaves.

About 200 metres before Yakuo-in temple, I heard something moving in the dry leaves among the trees below the road. After waiting for a couple of minutes and peering in the gaps between the bushes, I was able to locate a Japanese Badger (Anaguma) scratching about in the dry leaves. It was not too concerned about me watching it, and a couple of photos out of about 10 turned out OK. After about five minutes it dropped down deeper into the trees and disappeared.

© Chris Cook

Japanese Badger © Chris Cook

Due to the wind I did not hear any squirrels calling from the tall sugi trees at Yakuo-in, so I went up to the top of Takao-san. All was quiet there, but as I walked near the visitor centre I saw eyeshine behind a low wall: it turned out to be a Masked Palm Civet (Hakubishin) on the prowl. As I left the civet I noticed a nora-neko near some tables.

The only thing of note as I hiked to Icchodaira was a single Raccoon Dog (Tanuki) crossed the track about 250 metres from the west side of Takao-san.

It was just before midnight when I arrived at the shelter at Icchodaira, and as I had not eaten dinner, I sat down and had coffee and sandwiches before getting into my sleeping bag. The wind was blowing directly into the shelter, but once I was inside my sleeping bag, snug and warm, I soon fell asleep!

At about 0300 it began to rain, but by the time I woke up again at 0430, it has eased off. But, by the time I’d finished my sandwiches and hot coffee for breakfast, a steady rain had started to fall.

The first bird to sing today was a White’s Thrush (Tora-tsugumi) soon after 0430, and then Grey Thrush (Kuro-tsugumi) and Japanese Bush Warbler (Uguisu). By 0515, with my backpack wrapped in a waterproof cover and wearing raingear myself, I was ready to go. A few tits were calling, a Japanese Green Woodpecker (Ao-gera) called in the distance, and a Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker (Ko-gera) flew over the trees. About 10 minutes after leaving Icchodaira I heard what I thought was subsong — but it turned out to be an Asian Brown Flycatcher singing from the top of a tree. The rindo was very quiet in the rain, and just a few birds were actually singing or calling.

Some new birds for the year list today (heard only) included Blue&White Flycatcher (Oruri) and Asian Stubtail (Yabusame). I might have heard a Narcissus Flycatcher (Kibitaki) calling, but it was in the distance and I could not hear it clearly.

By 0745 I was back at Takaosanguchi Station and heading home — to catch up on my sleep!

Raccoon Dog (Tanuki) One seen crossing the track between Takao-san and Icchodaira
Japanese Badger (Anaguma) One searching for food in the forest about 200 metres from Yakuo-in temple
Striped Palm Civet (Hakubishin) One at the summit of Takao-san
Giant Flying Squirrel (Musasabi) One heard calling about 20 minutes after I started hiking
Feral Cat (Nora-neko) — One at the summit of Takao-san

Froggy things:
Japanese Toad (Nihon-hiki-gaeru) One on the rindo
Tago Frog (Tago-gaeru) A few heard calling in various places

  1. David Tur 12 months ago

    Dear Jon, I want to do a night hiking in Takaosan and was wondering where is that shelter you mentioned. I don’t find Icchodaira anywhere! In would be so happy if you could help me with that…

    Best regards,

  2. Profile photo of Jon Hall Author
    Jon Hall 11 months ago

    Hi David – sorry to be slow, This isn’t my report so I don’t know, You could try contacting Jaoan Nature Guides on the link at the start of the report

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