Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary
Read a guide to the Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary (Karuizawa Yacho no Mori), a forest that is a wildlife sanctuary, near the resort town of Karuizawa in Japan's Nagano Prefecture.
Japan Guides: Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary
Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary (Karuizawa Yacho no Mori) 軽井沢野鳥の森
The Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary (Karuizawa Yacho no Mori) is about 100 hectares of forestland a little north-east of the resort town of Karuizawa in Nagano prefecture. The Sanctuary is forestland which contains among other trees Japanese chestnut and larch. There are about 3km of paths which visitors can freely wander through, observing the variegated flora and fauna. Over eighty species of birds, many of them quite rare and sporting beautiful plumage, can be viewed here throughout the year. Karuizawa Yacho no Mori also offers the opportunity to see rare and beautiful butterflies in the wild.
Picchio Visitors Center
The Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary (Karuizawa Yacho no Mori) was established in 1974 and houses the Picchio (peek-key-oh) Wildlife Research Center, dedicated to the promotion of ecotourism. The nearby Picchio Visitors Center is for visitors, and should be your first stop upon arrival.
The Wild Bird Sanctuary offers several different kinds of tour, some of them seasonal, and all of them requiring payment of a fee. The following are three of such tours.
Nature Watching Tour
While visitors are free to wander, the Picchio Visitors' Center also offers a two-hour nature watching guided tour of the sanctuary (no reservations required) morning (10am-noon) and, between April and November, in the afternoon (1:30-3:30pm). Binoculars are available for hire.
If an English-language interpreter is required, inquiries should be made to the Hoshinoya Resort, which is near the Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary. The staff at the Hoshinoya Resort can both arrange your tour booking in English and, if required, arrange to have an interpreter accompany you (although this will cost you). Hoshinoya Karuizawa Resort Hotel, tel. 050 3786 0066.
Hoshinoya Resort is set in beautiful rural surroundings
Giant Flying Squirrels Tour
Evening tours are also available to observe the flight of the giant flying squirrels (musasabi) that also inhabit the park. The giant flying squirrel tour takes about 90 minutes, is available only between about mid-March and about the end of November.
Mountain Bike Tour
From spring to mid-summer, the Sanctuary offers afternoon mountain bike tours for up to six persons at a time, following an approximately 10km trail up the river that runs through the sanctuary, as far as the Ryugaeshi Falls, a small waterfall between massive overhanging rocks.
Other tours are available, but are generally more about socializing with friends in nature rather than actual nature appreciation. Please inquire with the Picchio Visitors Center or check the Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary website.
A free shuttle bus run by the Hoshinoya Resort leaves from the south exit of Karuizawa Station. Alight at Tombo no Yu busstop, and the Picchio Visitors Center is one minute's walk.
Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary (Karuizawa Yacho no Mori)
Hours: 9:30am-5pm (April-November), 9:30am-3pm (December-March, but open until 5pm on weekends and public holidays)
Picchio Visitors Center, Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary
Hoshino, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken 389-0194
Google Map of the Picchio Visitors Center, Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary (Karuizawa Yacho no Mori)