Brought back from extinction, the oriental white stork flies again in Hyogo Prefecture. On this tour, you'll learn about the conservation efforts, watch storks in the wild, and enjoy a locally-grown stork-friendly lunch.
The last wild oriental white storks in Japan died in Toyooka City, Hyogo Prefecture in 1971, but their story didn't end there. Using breeding pairs from Russia, the Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork was able to breed chicks in captivity. Now, almost 50 years after they first went extinct, the storks fly again, with the first wild chicks born in 2007. Toyooka City is rightly proud of its achievement, and now visitors can enjoy the fruits of their labor on the Stork Extinction and Resurrection Tour. You'll meet your private English-speaking guide and take a stroll around Hachigoro Toshima Wetland. Here, rice paddies have been permanently flooded to create a wetland that allows storks and other wildlife to thrive. As part of the conservation program, nesting towers have been erected — if you come in late April or early May, you might see some hatchlings. All year round, it's an excellent spot for birdwatching. Next, you'll visit the Toyooka Municipal Museum of the Oriental White Stork. With your guide, you'll learn about the significance of Hyogo's Prefectural Bird and what its conservation means to Toyooka's residents. Suitably introduced, you'll then see the conservation in action at the Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork. You'll see how storks are bred in captivity and released into the wild and learn about the progress that had been made so far. Finally, you'll enjoy a stork-friendly lunch, made with organically grown rice. Much of the grassroots conservation effort came from local farmers, who took up growing methods that allowed storks to live and hunt in the rice fields where pesticides had previously driven them to extinction. This 'stork friendly' rice is now sold all over Japan as a symbol of the conservation efforts.
- If you are staying in Kinosaki Onsen, the tour includes hotel pickup and drop-off. Please let us know your accommodation when you make your booking. - If you are staying outside these areas, please meet your guide at JR Kinosaki Onsen Station. You will be brought back to the station when the tour ends.