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The latest situation of bird watching in Japan

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There is some information that birdwatchers have to get before watching birds in foreign countries ; safety, language, meals, accommodations, transportation, bird watching spots, field guide books, and the birds possible to see.

Safety : Basically, Japan is a safe country. We are scarcely threatened of our life and property while watching birds. But in any country, there are crimes like pickpocket or bag-snatching at a crowded place, so, not to speak, we should be careful. There are many opportunities to carry out bird watching within life spaces such as farming grounds or forests that are not bird
sanctuaries or facilities for watching birds. So we have to pay attention when we step in densely housing areas or private properties as that may cause some trouble.

Language : The official language is Japanese. Though English is learned in compulsory education, it's good to consider that many Japanese can speak very little English.

Meals : In general, we can drink tap water. There are a lot of restaurants in the cities and it isn't so difficult to find places for taking meals. But in many cases, bird watching spots are distant from housing areas, and we can hardly find the restaurants at such places. In Japan we can find the convenient stores everywhere. So, we can drop in at a convenient store and buy food and drinks on our way to a birding spot from lodging. We can also use a bathroom there.

Accommodations : At a common hotel English is usually available, but even at a high-class hotel all hotel staff can't speak English. In general, hotels in Japan are a bit expensive. There are hotels called 'business hotels' where we can stay at a clean room at a cheaper price. However, I don't recommend a cheap business hotel that doesn't provide a restaurant or have no English-speaking staff. It's good to choose a hotel which is a member of organizations like 'the Business Hotel Association.'

is a Japanese-style hotel and in many cases the charge includes supper and breakfast. They mainly serve Japanese food and we have to eat what is prepared. Basically we can't choose what we want to eat. There isn't a bed in a room but the hotel staff comes to lay out the futon on tatami. We often share a toilet and a bath with other guests. Men and women don't share a bath, of course; a bathtub is large and we soak in hot water together with other guests. In Japan we don't have a habit of taking a bath with a swimsuit on.
Minshuku is a kind of accommodations which is cheaper and smaller than a ryokan. Like a ryokan the charge includes supper and breakfast. Basically, it's a self-service inn and we have to bring a towel and so on. Sometimes the rooms are partitioned with fusuma or shoji, both are Japanese style sliding doors, and can't be locked. At the bird watching areas remote from cities, in many cases there are only minshuku. Besides, there are 'youth-hostels' and public accommodations but not so many.

Transportation : Public transportation facilities, such as a domestic airline, a train, a bus, a taxi, are developed. But English-written bulletin boards are few, so you feel it's a little inconvenient to move around by yourself. We can rent a car near an airport or a railway station, but I won't recommend a foreigner to drive a car without preparation because English-written traffic signs aren't always provided, and traffic is heavy.
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