• A wedge of geese flies amid the spring haze

    Early in the morning, the Ishikari Plain is shrouded in spring haze. From the Tsukigata Ohashi Bridge, which straddles the border between the city of Bibai and the town of Tsukigata in the Sorachi ...

  • A picture scroll depicting Shiretoko, where brown bears and humans live closely together, will be exhibited in the Ezo Higuma (brown bear) Hall, a large-scale exhibition facility that will open at Asahiyama Zoo (Asahikawa) on April 29. The Shiretoko Nature Foundation and picture book author Akashi Nobuko, who lives near the zoo, were involved in the production of the scroll, which introduces issues involved in the coexistence of humans and brown bears, through pictures with a gentle touch.

  • n March 31, two men who were conducting ecological research on brown bears were attacked by a bear that emerged from its hibernation den on Mt. Sankaku in Sapporo's Nishi-ku. One man received a serious head injury while the other received serious injuries to his arm. Subsequent investigation by the City of Sapporo revealed that the brown bear that attacked them was raising two cubs. The den was only about 500 meters away from a residential area, in a place where hikers and other members of the public could easily have stumbled across it. The increasing bear population has highlighted the fact that the bears' habitat is getting closer to human settlements, and experts warn that, “we need to fundamentally change the perception that bears hibernate deep in the mountains.”

  • With the establishment of the Revised Natural Parks Act in April, purposefully hiding near and approaching brown bears is now banned at Shiretoko National Park. A maximum fine of 300,000 yen has been placed on approaching and feeding wild animals. Locally, the Act is expected to deter the acclimating of brown bears to people and prevent accidents involving people and brown bears. Related organizations are gearing up to spread awareness of the new rules.

  • Seals have been seen on the breakwater in Kushiro Port in eastern Hokkaido and near the mouth of the Kushiro River, which flows into the port. They swim and feed leisurely as fishing boats come and go.

  • the Nemuro region. On March 10, two netted deer were sighted near the middle of the 28-kilometer long sandspit. The nonprofit "Notsuke Eco Network", which engages in activities including cleaning projects, is considering tranquilizing the deer with blow-dart-delivered anesthesia to remove the tangled netting.

  • In southern Japan, delicate vernal blossoms of plum, peach and cherry now bedeck the branches, proving that a new season has arrived and showing that everything is alive — It’s spring! Meanwhile, in northern Japan, it is snow that coats the limbs of trees, snow that blizzards and lies deeply piled and drifted between forest trees, snow that brightens mountain flanks and threatens to crush the ageing roof beams of abandoned houses, and it is drift ice that covers the sea, proving that the old season’s frosty, vicelike grip remains hard — It’s still winter!! By Mark Brazil

  • It’s 3:15 p.m. ‘The glow of the firefly’ is played through the speakers to signal closing time at Asahiyama Zoo, and the wolves begin to howl in deep, sharp tones, as the breath they exhale turns white in the cold. The howls and barks come from the timber wolves.

  • Video footage taken by photographer Ando Makoto (57) from the village of Tsurui in the Kushiro region of Eastern Hokkaido received the first place "Winner" award in the video category for the globally renowned nature photography contest "Nature's Best Photography Asia 2021". Ando is also a professional nature guide, and has captured video footage of Eastern Hokkaido animals like brown bears and red-crowned cranes. Amidst the shock to Hokkaido tourism from the COVID-19 pandemic, Ando commented on his joy at winning, "This is a chance to show the world the amazingness of Eastern Hokkaido and contribute to a revival post-COVID tourism."

  • Amidst the onset of the Okhotsk region drift ice season, on January 25 the town of Tokoro within Kitami City was one of the areas to receive an inflow of drift ice into its offshore area. At Tokoro Jonan Beach, drift ice covers the entire expanse.