2024 The Japan Alps – Wildlife / Endangered Species (RAICHO) Observation Tour

Japan is known as a hot spot of biodiversity. The environment of the Japan islands is such that it is surrounded by the sea in every direction; other such conditions allow for the diversity and the existence of rare species. In fact, a quarter of vertebrate species in Japan are endemic species. The famous Japanese macaque is one of them. In the mountainous Japan Alps, many animals and plants facing extinction, co-habit with humans in nature.
If you get to know the creatures that live there, and if you can meet them, it will be a wonderful opportunity to attain a deeper understanding of the workings of nature in The Japan Alps.

This time, we will enjoy Japan’s nature and offer a valuable tour experience to a limited number of visitors to Japan to observe wild animals and birds while walking in The Japan Alps area.
The location is the mountaineous area surrounding the Norikura mountains, the southernmost independent peak of the Northern Alps. The vast mountain range is rich in rare wildlife, alpine plants, and alpine butterflies. The volcanic terrain is rich in complex vegetation, with many rivers flowing through the forests and numerous waterfalls, making it one of Japan’s representative alpine natural environments.

In what is considered to be the most attractive point of the tour is the opportunity for observation of the endangered Japanese Ptarmigan (RAICHO) species living near the summit. The RAICHO has evolved in a unique way that is different from the grouse living in Northern Europe and Canada. Their ecology is said to be deeply related to the unique culture of Japan.

It is surprising to find such a rich natural environment within a half-day’s drive from Tokyo or Osaka.
“The Japan Alps” is a wilderness that displays a wide variety of nature, different from the overwhelming scale of the Alps in Europe and the Rocky Mountains in the United States, the nature of Southeast Asia, where you can venture into deep jungles, and the natural environment of Hokkaido and Okinawa in Japan, which also demonstrate diversity and a variety of changes.
The Japan Alps is a unique natural experience that will leave a lasting impression on your mind and heart.

* The participation fee for this Observation Tour includes a modest donation to Ptarmigan conservation & protection efforts; this will permit you to contribute to nature conservation in Japan through your participation.

The Mountains of the Japan Alps and their creatures
Several kinds of mountain environments are found in the Japan Alps. Depending on the environments, the vegetation is different and the animals and birds living therein diverse. The creatures of the Japan Alps are hard to encounter. It would be a fabulous experience to get to see them in their natural habitat.

【Vegetation of the mountain area】
Alpine belt: This area is above 2,500 m in altitude and beyond the tree line. The vegetation is mainly Pinus Pumila and a limited number of plants and flowers.
Sub Alpine Belt: This area is around 1,500 m to 2,500 m in altitude and mostly evergreen conifers such as Abies veitchii and broad leafed trees such as Birches can be seen.
Mountain Belt: This area is around 500 m to 1,500 m in altitude and is wide and broad. The vegetation that can mainly be seen are the broad-leafed trees such as Larches, Beeches, and Mongolian oaks.
Lowland Belt: This area is below 500 m, is a laurel forest zone and trees such as Camphors are mainly seen.

Examples of custom tours with English-speaking guides
(tours are assembled upon request)

<Features of the Tour>
First Japanese Wildlife Program in the Alpine Region – Enriching Learning and Wildlife Experience.
From halfway up the Norikura mountains (elevation of 3026 meters), we will continue moving vertically upwards
to observe wild animals and birds and experience the differences in their natural environment.Special guides from various fields: Special nature guide,
Haku-unso famous Manager,
Ptarmigan Photographer.Winter tours/ Japan‘s first
winter Ptarmigan observing tour
*Currently in the planning stage