Nichinan Japanese Giant Salamander Conservation Experience
A rare opportunity to see Japanese giant salamanders in their natural habitat
Learn from the world's leading Japanese giant salamander researcher
Help ensure the species' survival in an ethical way
Nichinan is a small mountain town in the Hino District, Tottori Prefecture; a hidden, quiet corner of the least inhabited district of the least populated prefecture in Japan. 90% of Nichinan is rich forest, with crystal clear rivers and untouched, natural biodiversity. While endemic and threatened species of fauna are afforded some protection by Japanese law, the habitats of the Japanese giant salamander receive no such protection, and as a result are under threat from development schemes, which have high levels of environmental impact upon the lives of these endangered and legendary amphibians.
Charitable donations and financial support from the private sector are increasingly necessary in order to continue research and protect the future of the Japanese giant salamander. With this in mind, a new collaborative partnership has been formed between Nichinan Town Office, the Daisen Oki National Park, leading Salamander Researcher, Dr. Sumio Okada, and regional expert, Richard Pearce. The Nichinan Japanese Giant Salamander Conservation Experience is the first regional educational experience of its kind, and aims to generate data to contribute to the Salamanders' conservation through limited, select participation, carried out under strict ethical guidelines.
Nichinan Town is an hour by car from Yonago City. Flights to Yonago Airport from Tokyo Haneda take around 80 minutes. Pick-up from Yonago Airport and JR Yonago Station can be arranged upon request as part of a tour program. An express train connects JR Yonago Station and Shoyama Station (Nichinan) in around 40 minutes, and Okayama to Shoyama in around 100 minutes (Shin-Osaka to Shoyama via Okayama takes a total of 167 minutes).
Dr. Sumio Okada
Dr. Sumio Okada (Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan) is the world’s leading authority on Japanese giant salamanders. His research focuses on the intersection of population status, breeding ecology and human impact. He has published extensively and appeared on numerous nature documentaries.
Japanese giant salamanders became a nationally protected species under the "Special Natural Monument" designation in 1952, and its conservation status was recently raised to "vulnerable" from "near threatened" in the Japanese Ministry of Environment's Red Data Book. The probability that this species will become extinct is increasing because of habitat loss and degradation associated with human activity, such as dams and bank protection walls. These alterations contribute to habitat fragmentation and the elimination of nest sites of the salamanders.
The Hino River, which runs through Nichinan, is one of the most important Japanese giant salamander habitats. Dr. Okada has electronically tagged over 650 individual salamanders within an 8 km study area. However, despite such high density of salamanders, the habitat itself receives no official protection.
Japanese Giant Salamander
The Japanese giant salamander is one of only three members of the Cryptobranchidae family. Their biology has changed little in millions of years, earning them the title of “living dinosaurs”. The Japanese giant salamander is the second largest in this family, can grow up to 1.5 meters in length, and potentially live up to a hundred years. They are generally active at night, relying on smell and touch to locate prey, which includes fresh-water crab, fish, frogs and insects, catching them with a rapid sideways snap of the mouth. It has an extremely slow metabolism and can go for several weeks without eating. This species’ large size and lack of gills in fully developed adults are thought to confine them to cold, fast flowing water where oxygen is in good supply.
3pm: Arrive at field site. Briefing and change into waders.
3.30pm: Walk along the riverside and enter the river to look for Japanese giant salamander.
4.30pm: Move to classroom. Salamander talk and Q&A with Dr. Okada.
6pm: Healthy dinner made from locally-sourced ingredients at a nearby restaurant.
6.45pm: Move to evening field site. Put on waders and carry equipment to the river.
7pm: Assist Dr. Okada in conducting salamander surveys in the river. Assist with activities such as measuring and weighing salamanders and help record the data collected.
9pm: Experience finishes.
Group Size: One to Five People
When: April to November, not including between mid-August and mid-September. Late August to mid-September is breeding season and an alternative viewing experience may be available. Please contact Bushido for details.
Experience Cost (Japanese Yen):
- 1 person: 70,000
- 2 people: 70,000
- 3 people: 85,000
- 4 people: 95,000
- 5 people: 100,000
- Donation towards the local organization Tari Hanzake (Giant Salamander) Conservation Group.
- A dinner at a local restaurant.
Stay: We can help organise an overnight stay at a traditional local inn. Please ask us for more details.
Contact: For bookings or enquiries in English, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the CONTACT option on the tool bar. We will send you a booking form.
Japanese giant salamander conservation experience booking conditions:
After receiving confirmation of your booking form, please make a payment in full following the instructions provided at that time.
- Any cancellations made between 17:00 local time, 15 business days to 17:00 local time, 7 business days prior to the activity will be subject to a charge of 20% of the total amount.
- Any cancellations made between 17:00 local time, 7 business days to 17:00 local time, 2 business days prior to the activity will be subject to a charge of 30% of the total amount.
- Any cancellations made between 17:00 local time, 2 business days to 17:00 local time, 1 business days prior to the activity will be subject to a charge of 50% of the total amount.
- Any cancellations made after 17:00 local time, 1 business days prior to the activity will be subject to a charge of 100% of the total amount.