Red-crowned Crane guarding in Kushiro
The Red-crowned Crane, or tancho, is a powerful, sacred Japanese icon that symbolises longevity. Aside from their red crowns, these cranes are often snow white. In therms of size, they are usually as large as a human at a height of about 1.5 metres. Long-lived, they are slow to breed, and their graceful winter courtship displays in the snow are often described as a ballet performance.
Tancho are revered by Hokkaido’s Ainu people as the god of the marsh, and the island’s Kushiro Marshlands is their home throughout the year, The best time to see these endangered, second-rarest cranes is during winter, when you can likely catch sight of their magnificence by spotting them feeding in fields all around the wetlands.
As the marshland is a critical environment for these endangered birds, it is important that visitors practice a ‘leave no trace’ policy of bringing out what they bring in, and the only things they can take are photos.