Japanese Wildlife

When you think of Japan, thriving wildlife might not spring to mind. Instead, you may picture bustling cities, spiritual temples and the delicious cuisine on offer. But Japan is in fact home to some wonderful nature and wildlife, with most of the region being covered in steep mountains and dense forest, making for the perfect habitat. Large areas of rural Japan remain relatively untouched and the northern shores of the country are located close to Russia, resulting in icy waters that make the ideal home to many sealife creatures. There are estimated to be around 130 species of land mammal calling Japan home, as well as around 600 bird types.

Snow Monkeys

Nagano is the best place to spot the Japanese Macaque, or 'snow monkey' as they chill out in the onsen hot springs. Head to Jigokudani Park to see the red-faced, fluffy monkeys soaking in the wild at 850 metres above sea level.

Ussuri Brown and Asian Black Bears

Japan's largest wild animal is the bear, with the Asian black being found on Mount Kurai and Ussuri brown bears making the northern island of Hokkaido home. 


These odd looking 'raccoon dogs; can be found throughout most of Japan and their mischievous character has gained them great reputation. You'll often find statues of these creatures outside the entrance to temples in Japan as they're thought to bring good luck. You don't even have to venture far to see them; the tanuki has been spotted in urban areas such as the densely populated Koenji district.

Wild Boar

Another common animal in Japan, wild boar can be found pretty much anywhere across the country, particularly in the south west including the Okinawa Islands.


Considered to be messengers of the gods, you can see more than 1,200 roaming deer in Nara Park and they're surprisingly tame. Deer crackers are available around the area so you can feed these national treasures as you take a stroll.

Whale and Dolphin Watching

Japan might be unfavourably known for its controversial history of whaling but several former whaling ports in the east and west of the region now offer whale-watching tours instead. January to April is the best time to spot humpback whales as well as spinner and bottlenose dolphins.