Nature guides and books


Field Guides for Japan


"Nihonno Ikimono no Zukan" or “Animals and Plants of Japan” (alternative title). Child-friendly and a great favorite in the home. Organized according to various habitats: Town /Mountains / Woodland or Forest / Ponds and Rivers. It covers animals, birds, fish and plants. Detailed descriptions are in hiragana but animal, bird and flower species have names in both English and Japanese languages.  

"Field Guide to the Birds of East Asia" by Mark Brazil (2008) / "A Birdwatcher's Guide to Japan" by Mark OOP (out of print) but you can buy a copy from Brazil's website. Organized like a tour guide, you can pick your bird sanctuary location in various parts of Japan Brazil gives you a full description of what you'll see, and how to get there. Not a systematic field guide for bird identification really, and no pictures. But the info is useful for birding field trips around Japan. Available from Kinokuniya bookstore. 

"Birds of Japan" in English a spotter's guide by the Japan Society of Ornithology. Written by a Japanese ornithologist. Only problem with the book is that you have to flip back and forth between the pictures at the back of the book and the front section which describes all the birds.

"Nature in Tokyo" by Kevin Short. Very well-written. Though written for a Japanese adult audience, it is in simple enough English to be read to children. Ample pictures, but unfortunately mostly in black and white. A child might not want to pick this one up and read it on his/her own. Covers Tokyo and its immediate environs, but it has some useful general information on the rest of the country.
"Japanese Plants Know Them & Use Them" by Betty W. Richards, Anne Kaneko, 4-07-975121-4 Field Guide for adults but very useful if used by parent with child on a plant-spotting exercise.
Wild Flowers of Japan” by Ran Levy. Excellent coverage including photos and makes for a good read. Available in many local public libraries.
"A Flower Lover's Guide To Tokyo: 40 Walks for All Seasons", by Sumiko Enbutsu (Kodansha International, ¥2,200)
The Nocturnal Naturalist: Exploring the Outdoors at Nightby Cathy Johnson    

Mark Brazil is considered one of Japan's leading naturalists, especially for his authoritative birding guide although he writes on a wide range of subjects.You can easily find archives of several year's worth of environment/nature articles by visiting the Japan Times website. Then, under "advanced search"
type “Wild Watch” and that should take you to this URL, thereupon you can find Mark Brazil's articles dating back to 2002. In the same search, you can also look for Linda Inoki’s and Rowan Hooper’s archived articles. Linda Inoki writes about flowers and wildflowers in season in Japan while Rowan Hooper writes about animals of Japan in his Animal Tracker column.


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