It might come as a surprise to many that there is a still a lot of nature in Japan. Many people often refer to the seemingly endless urban concrete sprawl, a certain image that Japan is certainly famous for, but at the same time the propensity of its people to gather in large metropolitan areas has allowed for a relatively quiet and natural countryside all the same. Many species of flowers, sub-tropical plants and insects are indigenous to Japan, many of which exist in Kyushu, Okinawa and the Ryukyu Chains. There are also at least 6 species of mammals and 5 species of non-migratory birds indigenous to the archipelago.
Iriomote is a wealth of nature by all accounts as it houses some 40% of Japan’s existing indigenous species of flora and fauna. If you are interested in scuba or jungle hikes or sea kayaking, Iriomote is a must. It is particularly interesting during the June-July monsoon season when it rains and rains in its balmy, warm tropical atmosphere. Flowers and bugs of all kinds not seen elsewhere calling to mind Hawaii and the Galapagos and the teachings of Darwin. That’s just the way it is with tropical islands, whether you believe in pure science or a more spiritual interpretation of the way things are, there is no arguing the incredible diversity of interesting plants and creatures to find.
But even right here in Northern Hyogo and Kyoto Prefectures, along the Sea of Japan up to Ishikawa Prefectures, it is possible to find all kinds of things you won’t expect so always keep a look-out. Rent a car and drive all the back roads, especially along Routes 162, 367, 175, 372 and 477 which travel through considerably green country through Hyogo and Kyoto Prefectures. And always remember to drive safely and defensively!
Martin Werner Zander, Partner in the Smith’s School of English Company
Owner, Smith’s School in Kotoen