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Rodent Relaxation: Hot Baths Help Capybaras Through Winter (Japan in Photos)

Capybaras soaking in a hot winter bath are a regular winter attraction at Izu Shaboten Zoo in Shizuoka Prefecture. There are five new entries in this year’s rodent rotenburo (outdoor bath), as cubs born in September take to the gently steaming water. The bath will be open until April 8, 2018, with occasional special variations like yuzu and other fruity additions, particularly at weekends. Pho…

Naming the PandasNippon.com Staff

A panda cub at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo has been seizing Japanese headlines ever since its birth in June 2017. Amid much fanfare, its name was announced on September 25 as Shan Shan. Or should that be Xiang Xiang? As symbols of Sino-Japanese cooperation, the animals’ names fall into something of a gray area between the two languages. Ueno Zoo now has three pandas. The cub’s mother is Shin Shin and the …

Three Cheers for Shan Shan: Ueno Zoo’s Panda Cub Gets a Name (Japan in Photos)

An employee of doll maker Kyūgetsu holds a banner celebrating the naming of Ueno Zoo’s giant panda cub in front of a display of stuffed panda dolls at the company’s main shop in Tokyo on September 25, 2017. The metropolitan government announced the name of the female cub born in June as Shan Shan in Japanese, or Xiang Xiang in Chinese, based on the repeated character 香, meaning fragrance. (© J…

Ueno Zoo Issues Update on Baby Giant Panda (News)

Tokyo, Aug. 22 (Jiji Press)—Tokyo's Ueno Zoo said Tuesday that the female cub born to the zoo's giant panda, Shin Shin, moves her head to follow objects in motion near her, suggesting she can recognize things in front of her. According to the zoo, Monday's body measurement showed that the cub is growing steadily, weighing 3,756.4 grams and reaching 47.9 centimeters long, up from 3,010.4 grams a…

Stalking—and Saving—the Wild Eel: An Interview with Marine Biologist Tsukamoto Katsumi

Tsukamoto Katsumi has devoted most of his long career to the study of the Japanese eel and its spawning behavior. Now, with overfishing and other pressures threatening populations of freshwater eel worldwide, Tsukamoto has joined forces with colleagues from China, South Korea, and Taiwan in a race to unlock the secrets of these mysterious—and famously tasty—migratory fish and rescue them from extinction.

Thunder Birds Are Go! (Japan in Photos)

A ptarmigan in its snow-white winter plumage in the foothills of the Tateyama mountain range in Toyama Prefecture. The bird’s Japanese name, raichō, literally means “thunder bird.” (© Jiji)

Feathered Anglers: 1,300-Year-Old “Ukai” Fishing Method on Display in Gifu (Japan in Photos)

Cormorant fishermen called ushō exhibit the traditional ukai fishing method along the waters of the Nagaragawa in Gifu, Gifu Prefecture, on May 11, 2017. Manipulating leashed cormorants, the ushō use the birds to catch ayu, or sweetfish, attracted by the glare of fires in small baskets attached to their wooden boats. When a bird surfaces with an ayu, they haul it aboard and force it to disgorg…

Ancient Messengers: The Timeless Deer of Nara (Photos)Ishii Yōko

Nara boasts a sizable herd of deer that wander freely through the ancient city. Traditionally thought to be messenger of the gods, the beasts thrive amid the urban environment thanks to municipal conservation efforts. Photographer Ishii Yōko has recorded the lives of these charming creatures set against the human landscape.

Real Animals and Mythical CounterpartsRichard Medhurst

A number of real animals take their English-language names from mythical creatures. Take Indonesia’s Komodo dragon, which drew comparisons to the fabled fiery lizard. And explorers called the blood-drinking bats they discovered in South America “vampire bats” after supernatural beings from European legend. (It was only later that bats became incorporated into and ultimately a central part of the v…

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