Surrounded by an urban landscape that includes an elevated expressway, high-rise condominiums and an IKEA furniture store, the Yatsu-higata wetland in Narashino, Chiba Prefecture, is an unusual nature preserve.

Yatsu-higata, which spans around 40 hectares — slightly smaller than Tokyo Disneyland — is in the middle of an urban area that is a 30-minute drive from central Tokyo. It is close to Tokyo Bay and connected to the sea by two rivers.

Yatsu-higata is protected under an international treaty on wetland preservation known as the Ramsar Convention. It has also been designated as a national bird sanctuary to which entry is restricted. A 3.5-km-long promenade surrounds the sanctuary, providing good observation points to view wildlife.