Flora and Fauna

Flora and Fauna in the Kyushu mountains and forests

Making discoveries and experiencing new species of plants, animals and Fungi is always exciting. Due to the temperate climate the environment in forest and mountains varies a great deal over the course of a year and you will find different species depending on when you choose to head out on the trails. 

Below are some of my favourite things that I have seen first hand in the mountains. I will update this as I go. If you notice anything incorrectly identified please let me know.  Where possible the photos have been taken by me in most cases however there are some that I have used from Wikipedia. 

Birds: Japan has some wonderful birds. I have seen the Japanese woodpecker (Picus awokera) and the national bird of Japan the Green Pheasant (Phasianus versicolor) as well as numerous birds of prey and cranes. However due to a lack of equipment I don't really have any interesting pictures. You can look here for more information on the variety of birds in Japan. 

Wild flowers

The forests in Kyushu are colourful places. Not only do you get the vast array of different tree species but there are also numerous flowers to discover. 

Higanbana (Lycoris radiata)
"Red spider lily"
Daffodil (Narcissus)
Butterfly flower (Iris japonica)

Rhododendron are everywhere in the highlands of Kuju
Rhododendron still in bud form

Rhododendron in bright red

Cherry blossom "Sakura" (Lycoris radiata) The iconic flower of Japanese spring time

"Ajisai" The Japanese rainy season flower

Hydrangea serrata
"Tea of Heaven" A subspecies of Ajisai 
Another species of Rhododendron
Japanese Burdock Gobo (Arctium) looks like a European thistle
Kyushu Orange surprise lily (Lycoris sanguinea var kiusiana)
Chinese Rampion (Campanula punctata) hotarubukuro
Evening primrose (Oenothera glazioviana) 
Lupine (Lupinus)

Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonicus)

Miyama Kirishima
(Kyushu Azalea) 

Pulsatilla koreana (Pasque flower) 

Insects and bugs 

Japan has a lot of insects and bugs. In the summer you will be plagued by the mosquitos and horse flies. However there also some bugs that are genuinely impressive such as moths and butterflies which tend to be far larger than their European cousins. 

Japanese Dung Beetle (Geotrupes auratus) Oosenchikogane

Cyrestis thyodamas mabella 

Cicada larvae 

Japanese Cicada, evening cicada (Tanna japonensis)

Japanese giant mantis (Tenodera aridifolia)
Blue Japanese dragonfly 

Yellow Japanese dragonfly

Not a bug exactly but part of a hive of bees or hornets. 

Japanese moon moth possibly (Actias gnoma) 

Japanese moon moth (Actias gnoma)

Very large ant; possibly a Japanese carpenter ant (Camponotus japonicus)
What appears to be at Kamikiri-mushi "Paper cutter beetle" 
Grasshopper (Oxya japonica)

Japanese horsefly "Abu" (Promachus yesonicus) Actually a type of "Robber fly" 

Japanese giant (Killer) hornet (Vespa simillima) "suzumibachi" These are huge and feed on Japanese bees. Their sting is dangerous to humans although from experience they are generally not interested in people all that much.

Hover fly (Syrphidae) Despite their appearance they are harmless and quite cute. 

Red Helen butterfly (Papilio helenus nicconicolens)

Japanese centipede "Mukade" (Scolopendra subspinipes) Their sting is supposed to be very painful
Sea slater (Ligia oceanica) They are very large in Japan and live by the sea on rocky beaches
A moth that looks exactly like a brown leaf

House centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata) Despite their look they are harmless

Animals and creatures 

The forests and mountains are home to many other animals. Reptiles and amphibians are relatively easy to spot and photograph. Mammals are generally far more aware and leave the scene as soon as detected. I have seen a good number of different creatures however I have been unable to capture all of them. My tip is to stay quiet and tread lightly, however you should also have caution as you don't want to startle a mother wild boar into taking a defensive stance. 

Yama-gani "Mountain crab" (Chiromantes haematocheir) They are abundant in Japan. Try hiking in wet weather and you can't miss them.

Japanese common toad (Bufo japonicus) 

Another common toad (Bufo japonicus) A very different colour palette

Inoshishi Japanese wild boar (Sus scrofa leucomystax) The young boar are very cute but watch you for mummy in the spring! 

Tanuki "Japanese racoon dog" (Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus) I have only seen once at Taradake in Saga

Japanese weasel (Mustela itatsi)
A Japanese weasel crossing the road in Tagawa. Zoom in to to see it

A Japanese Hare (Lepus brachyurus) hiding from me at Sefuriyama

Anaguma "Japanese badger" (Meles anakuma) They are loud and easy to sneak up on. This one wasn't even bothered of me being there at Kiyama.

Japanese Deer Shika (Cervus nippon) This one is captive at Kamado Shrine in Dazaifu. I have seen them wild in Yufudake in Oita.  

Japanese Gecko (Gekko japonicus) 
Japanese brown frog (Rana japonica)
Japanese Keelback snake (Hebius vibakari)
Mamushi "Japanese pit viper" (Gloydius blomhoffii) Look between the rocks. These are the most dangerous snakes in Japan. 

Japanese rat snake (Elaphe quadrivirgata) These are aggressive. The one here seems to have fed recently and id not want to move. 
A type of Japanese striped snake. Completely black it is called "Crow snake" (Elaphe quadrivirgata)
Long tailed grass lizard (Takydromus sexlineatus)
Japanese Deer Shika (Cervus nippon) 
Mamushi up close in Unzen

Fungi and Mushrooms 

Japan has diverse and fascinating range of species of Fungi and Mushrooms. They are one of my favourite things to hunt for in the Mountains while hiking. Identification can be very difficult however as there is little written in English. Thankfully I found a wonderful site which is worth checking out if you are having trouble identifying Fungi. Rather than identify the exact species instead I have labelled only the likely genus. 









Giant puffball Calvatia gigantea




Ghost plant (Monotropa uniflora) not actually a Fungi but instead is a tree parasite

Ghost flower or Indian pipe


Phallus indusiatus

Phallus indusiatus, with white skirt


Trees: The body of the forests

Trees are backbone of the forest. They regulate the microclimate and different trees give their respective forests very different atmospheres. Below are some of the trees and forests I love walking in.  

Bamboo : Take (Bambuseae) is everywhere in Japan. One of the best things about hiking in a bamboo forest is the sounds of bamboo knocking into each other and creaking as they sway in the breeze. 
Japan is famous for its beautiful Autumn colours. The Japanese acer maple (Acer palmatum) is loved for its wonderful red leaves. 
Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) These are old deciduous trees stand tall above the forest
A very old Japanese Cedar 
Ginkgo biloba is another autumn favourite. Usually bright yellow in Autumn

Coniferous woodland is generally a lot younger. It is often managed for commercial forestry.  It has a wonderful pine smell just after some rain. 
The Japanese cherry blossom is just as famous as the Japanese Maple. In the spring people enjoy picnics under the trees.
Another cedar tree
Baby bamboo. Takenoko. 
A young tree sapling

Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum camphora)
Camphor Tree (Cinnamomum camphora) This one is said to be 3000 years old

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