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Cormorant Fishing: An Ancient Tradition to Mark Each New SummerSawabe Katsuhito

Cormorant fishing, a method that involves lighting a fire to lure sweetfish and catching them with tamed cormorants, is today a popular tourist attraction that marks the beginning of summer in Japan. This is the story of the men and birds involved in Japan’s most famous cormorant fishing on the Nagara River.

Prized Visitors or Pests? Learning to Live with Japan’s Wild GeeseIshi Hiroyuki

The number of white-fronted geese increased 33-fold in half a century, but farmers saw them as a pest. A pioneering initiative in their largest wintering ground, Izunuma in Miyagi Prefecture, is helping geese and people to live side by side.

Another Fine Feathered Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into: Duck Family Makes Surprise Appearance at Chiba Train Station (Japan in Photos)

Employees and passengers at Shiroi Station, part of Chiba Prefecture’s Hokusō Railway web, were aflutter at the appearance of a family of spotbill ducks on July 31, 2017. Despite the unfamiliar surroundings, the mother duck confidently led her brood through the ticket gates, presumably on her way to a pond located down the line. Fearing things could turn foul, though, station attendants and po…

The Flight of the Wild GeeseIshi Hiroyuki

Wild geese were once a common sight throughout Japan, but overhunting since the late 1800s caused their numbers to decline drastically to just 5,000. Geese migrate to Japan from Siberia, and it was a letter from the Soviet Union that helped them in their time of crisis.

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.

A Summer Rainbow Descends on Hokkaidō (Japan in Photos)

Fields of lavender, peppermint, baby’s breath, and other flowers come into full bloom beneath the summer skies of Nakafurano, Hokkaidō, in this photo from July 15, 2017. The annual spectacle at the Farm Tomita spreads over nine hectares and draws thousands of visitors to the town. Peak viewing runs through July and lasts until the lavender is harvested in August. (© Jiji)

Mount Fuji and the Sumida River: Japan’s Reviving EnvironmentIshi Hiroyuki

The author launched his career as a science journalist at a newspaper just when Japan was entering an era of heavy industrial pollution. His investigations of domestic pollution soon expanded to environmental research in 130 countries. After years of reporting on degradation around the world, the author has turned his attention back to Japan in this new series.

A Peek into the Pearl Culture of Mie PrefectureJulian Ryall

It takes human talent, a gift from nature, and more than four years to produce the perfect pearl. We visited a community famed for these lustrous treasures to learn more about their production and the prospects for their future.

Early Summer Dew: Three Ancient Trees in the Season of RainTakahashi Hiroshi

In our ongoing series on Japanese old-growth trees, naturalist Takahashi Hiroshi visits three kyoju at the height of the rainy season. Tsuyu is an important time for these ancient plants, bringing respite after spring’s exacting renewal and nurturing rainfall ahead of the heat of summer.

Landfill Reborn as Butterfly Reserve (Japan in Photos)

Great purple emperor butterflies rest on leaves at the site of the Yatozawa landfill in Hinode, Tokyo, on June 20, 2017. The reintroduction of the violet-hued ōmurasaki, the Japanese national butterfly, is part of restoration efforts at the now shuttered facility by the Tama Regional Association for Waste Management and Resource Recycling, which uses the insects to help assess recovery of the …

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