My eyes have been carefully trained on the barren fields outside Izumi Crane Park Museum for at least 20 minutes, but I’ve yet to spot any of the locality’s most famous feathered friends.

It’s both laughable and more than a tad frustrating because, ever since I landed in this unassuming Kyushu city by the sea in northern Kagoshima Prefecture, I’ve seen images of the photogenic cranes everywhere — on posters, manhole covers, kitschy key chains, road signs and more.

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