Observing the Japanese Serow in Nagano
The Japanese serow, found only in Japan, looks like a mythical creature. Known locally as the kamoshika, it is a fluffy, grey-brown goat-antelope with tiny curved horns and a stout, barrel-shaped body that is well adapted to the cold winters. It is a national symbol of Japan, known as the ‘spirit of the forest’ for its quiet, wandering ways; spotting one is supposed to give you luck for years.
The kamoshika makes its home in the subalpine forests and alpine meadows throughout Japan, and is easiest to be spotted in the central mountains of Nagano prefecture. Kamoshikadaira, a rocky area of 1,900m above sea level with very few trees at the foot of Mt. Asama, is home to a high density of kamoshika. They are normally solitary, except during the autumn rut season. A number of operators offer guided tours to spot this shy mountain dweller in this beautiful mountain landscape.
While you bathe in the natural majesty of these mountains, it is also important to help preserve its fragile ecosystem by ensuring you do not cause any harm to the biodiversity and minimize the impact from your exploration.