Natural strategies to cope with winter

| Feb 7, 2015

Natural strategies to cope with winter

by Mark Brazil

Jan. 19 is officially the coldest day of winter. Called daikan (major cold), the day coincided with some truly bitter weather in northern Japan this year. The mercury plummeted to minus 27.3 in Furano, central Hokkaido, and minus 31.3 in Esashi in the southwest, ...

Modern technology aids whale research

| Jan 10, 2015

Modern technology aids whale research

by Mark Brazil

In my last column of 2014, “Twelve ways to spend 2015 with nature,” I mentioned the possibility of taking a whale-watching trip to the Ogasawara Islands. Ignore the international media hype about the country’s pelagic whaling industry — it’s a dying custom; instead, focus ...

An audience with an island menace

| Jul 12, 2014

An audience with an island menace

by Mark Brazil

By 8 o’clock on a warm early summer morning on Chichijima, one of Tokyo’s Ogasawara Islands, bright sunshine was already threatening to overwhelm my light-sensitive eyes and the heat was cranking up in preparation for what I refer to as reptilian warmth. The panoramic ...

Japan's efforts bring back 'extinct' species

| Jun 7, 2014

Japan's efforts bring back 'extinct' species

by Mark Brazil

Oriental stork 73; crested ibis 82; red-crowned crane 1,143; short-tailed albatross estimated 3,550. Those numbers of wild birds in Japan seem perilously low — and they are, especially when considered alongside the Japanese population of 126.75 million people — but in reality they are ...

Swimming upstream to become a dragon

| Apr 12, 2014

Swimming upstream to become a dragon

by Mark Brazil

While shuffling back from my early-morning dip in a hot spring at Kambayashi Onsen, I noticed the fish in the garden pond. They had gathered, heads together, in a strange starlike cluster, as if for a piscine tête-à-tête. They were languorously wafting their tails ...

Noisy bulbuls change with the seasons

| Mar 8, 2014

Noisy bulbuls change with the seasons

by Mark Brazil

On cold winter mornings the bulbuls come squawking their full-throated calls as they swoop onto bird-feeders, their white-tipped gray breast feathers appearing frosted by the chill. There, they will eat bread crusts and seeds — or halved mikans given a chance — but in ...