Izunuma and Uchinuma are lakes forming a wetland in Senhoku Plain in Miyagi Prefecture. The total area of the wetland is 4 sq. m and the water depth is only 1.6 m at the deepest. Being designated as a Ramsar Site, the lakes provide wintering places for waterfowls such as Greater White-fronted Goose (National Natural Monument) and Bean Goose and habitats for aquatic plants and insects.
Izunuma-Uchinuma Lotus Flower Festival is held from the end of July to the end of August, when the surface of the pond is covered with beautiful lotus flowers. Pale pink lotus flowers among green leaves make a brilliant contrast with clear blue sky. Flowers can be viewed from the walking trails and surrounding roads. Also, as a sightseeing-boat is operated during the festival, you van enjoy viewing the lotus flowers from the boat in the center of the pond.
Furen-ko Wetland spreads over the downstream area of the Furen River, which flows into Lake Furen, a brackish lake with a circumference of 96 km in the border of Bekkai Town and Nemuro City. Lake Furen was formed when the water flow was dammed by a huge sandbar created by the coastal current in Nemuro Bay. As it is directly connected to Nemuro Bay, a vast wetland was formed at the mouth of the Furen River.
Furen-ko Wetland is a wildfowl paradise, where nearly 300 species of wild birds can be observed. Those include rare species such as White-tailed eagles, Steller's Sea Eagle, Blakiston's Fish Owl, and red-crowned cranes. Also, migratory birds such as Whooper swans, bean goose and snipes come and stay here for a short period or winter here. Lake Furen and Furen-ko Wetland together with Shunkunitai were designated as a Ramsar Site as Furen-ko and Shunkunitai in 2005.
Notsuke Peninsula is Japan’s largest sand spit, which is a 28 km long fish hook-shaped peninsula jutting into Nemuro Strait on the eastern edge of Hokkaido. Desolate landscape with withered trees called todo-wara and nara-wara continues endlessly. There used to be forests of oak and beech trees in this area, but the trees were blighted by ground subsidence and seawater erosion. Weathering is still in progress now.
Inside the bay is a tidal flatland, where many species of shellfish and crustacean inhabit. Migratory birds such as Whooper swans and geese come to stay here on their migration in spring and fall. Notsuke-hanto Wetland was designated as a Ramsar Site in 2005 and its ecosystem has been protected by the city government.
Izunuma and Uchinuma are lakes in Senhoku Plain in Miyagi Prefecture. Covering a total area of 4 square meters, the majority of the surfaces of these shallow lakes is covered with water plants such as lotuses and reeds and provides precious habitat for insects and fish. They were designated as a registered wetland under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as a Waterfowl Habitat, known as the Ramsar Site in 1985.
Located in the northernmost area of the warm-temperate zone, the surfaces of Izunuma and Uchinuma rarely freeze, even during the coldest seasons. This makes them a popular wintering area for such waterfowl as whooper swans, white-fronted geese and Aleutian Canada goose. At the sunrise, you can see 30,000 goose and ducks flapping their wings all at once. This sound was designated as one of Japan’s 100 Landscapes with Sounds by the Ministry of Environment.
Visitors can enjoy viewing wild birds all through the year from observation deck at Izunuma Uchinuma Visitors Center.
Lake Kuccharo in Hamatonbetsu-cho, Esashi-gun in the northern part of Hokkaido is a brackish lake composed of two sub-lakes of Onuma and Konuma. It is the lake located in the northernmost part of the country and is a part of Kita-Okhotsk Prefectural Natural Park.
This is Japan’s largest resting ground for tundra swans; about 80% (approx. 20,000 in number) of tundra swans migrating to Japan make a short stay in this lake during their migration. Other than swans, over 280 species of wild birds including geese such as widgeons and ladybirds have been confirmed so far. The lake and its surrounding area were collectively designated to be a Ramsar Site in 1989. This is the 3rd designation in Japan after Lake Utonai and Izu-numa and Uchi-numa Ponds.
The whole surface of the lake is frozen from the end of December to the end of March. As camping sites are provided on the lakeside, a lot of families come to enjoy their summer. The sun setting in the lake is magnificent.
Katano-kamoike is a permanent freshwater lake in Katano-cho, Kaga City, Ishikawa Pref. It has an area of 1.54 ha and a depth of 3.6 m. The Lake is designated to a Ramsar Site as well as a Natural Monument of the Prefecture. The Lake is surrounded by rice paddies, the depth of which is designed to be shallow so that they can go under the water when the water is dammed in fall. That is, the rice paddies filled with water are connected to the pond, creating an expanded marshy area. The site is an important stopover point for many species of birds in winter. The number of species and individuals are said to be the largest in Japan. Rice agriculture taking advantage of the geese behaviors has been practiced in this area. As weed is eaten by geese flying over to rice paddies in search of food, farmers don’t have to use chemical herbicides. Their droppings function as organic fertilizer. This harmonious coexistence with geese is ideal, but on the other hand, there are several problems seen in recent yeas including a decrease in the number of rice paddies, increasing use of dry farmland, and a decline in the number of migrating birds.
Lake Akkeshi with an area of 3,200 ha and a circumference of 25 km is located in Akkeshi Town in Hokkaido. It is considered to have been a part of the ocean in the prehistoric times. The lake is a part of a Special Zone of a prefectural national park and a nationally designated Special Wildlife Protection Area.
The lake is fed by the Bekanbeushi River, in the upstream area of which lies magnificent Akkeshi Wetland. About 25 sub-species of goose come flying to the lakes and ponds in Akkeshi Town, which is also one of the few places in Japan where Whooper swans inhabit during winter. More than 10,000 Whooper swans migrating to Japan make a short stay here and more than 2,000 swans winter here. Lake Akkeshi together with Bekanbeushi Wetland on the north shore of the lake is designated as a Ramsar Site.
The lake is known for aquaculture of oysters and short-necked clams. There are a lot of oyster reefs created by the deposition of natural oyster shells, on which plant colonies are formed. Lake Akkeshi is a treasure trove of plants, fish and shellfish.
Bekanbeushi Marsh is located between the cities of Kushiro and Nemuro in the eastern part of Hokkaido. “Bekanbeushi (bekanbe-usi)” means “the place with a lot of water chestnuts” in the Ainu language.
The marsh is about 8,300 ha in total area, and is the 3rd largest wetland in Japan. Located only about 50 km away from Japan’s largest wetland, Kushiro Shitsugen, it hadn’t been paid attention to until 1993, when it was designated to be a Ramsar Site. This is one of the few places where the environmental conditions lay untouched by human hands since the ancient times.
The marsh is the paradise of wildlife. Especially, it is a large-scale breeding ground for red-crowned cranes. They build nests and breed in every part of the marsh. Across the street from the marsh stands the Akkeshi Waterfowl Observation Center, where you can observe what is happening on the marsh via a large screen whose image is relayed by observation camera. From the observation corner, you will be impressed by the spectacular sight of red-crowned cranes and many seasonal birds breeding.