go to main contents

Introduction Procedure List of Contents Appendices Photo/Map Sitemap History

Main Contents begins from here.


N-25-1-1 : Crane (tancho)

The tancho is a bird of the crane family (Grus japonensis). It is the largest and most beautiful of Japanese cranes, having a wingspan of 66cm and an olive-coloured beak 15-17cm long. It weighs up to 10kg. The body feathers are white and the crown of the head is bare and red. Part of the neck, the secondary and tertiary wing feathers are black. The tancho breeds in marshlands from Southern Siberia to Hokkaido and migrates in winter to China and Korea.
Formerly, the birds visited many areas of Japan but nowadays they are seen only in Miyagi, Shiga, Nagasaki and Kagoshima Prefectures. In 1952, in Kushiro, Hokkaido, starving tancho were hand-fed and since that time their numbers have increased. In 1967, when the tancho was designated as a special natural monument, 200 birds were counted throughout Japan.


N-25-1-2 : White heron (shirasagi)

In Japan there are 15 species of white heron (shirasagi) – the term being used to describe all white or light-coloured birds belonging to the heron family. They are roughly divisible into three groups, the small herons having a wingspan of 24-28cm, the medium-sized herons having a wingspan of 27-32cm and the larger birds having a wingspan of 34-39cm and saw-shaped incisions at the end of the beak. There is also a common egret with a wingspan of 40cm. Typically, Japanese herons live in the region of paddies, Iakes and the seashore; they feed on frogs, shell-fish and insects. The numbers of herons have decreased drastically due to uncontrolled hunting but in recent years many countries have passed legislation to protect these valuable and attractive birds.


N-25-1-3 : Horseshoe crab (kabutogani)

Despite its name, the kabutoganiis not a true crab; it is a marine aanthropod (limulus) closely related to scorpions and spiders. In fact, it is a "living fossil" dating back to the Gotlandian period of the Paleozoic era (c. 400 million years ago). Only five species are known. The Japanese species is about 60cm long including the hard, spiked tail. The body is protected by a leathery "shell" and the rounded front section completely covers the creature's five pairs of legs and its pincers. On the upper surface of the "shell" are two small median eyes and, behind and to the side, a larger pair of compound eyes.
Kabutogani breed in the Seto Inland Sea and in Hakata Bay, where they lay their eggs on the sandy shoreline in mid-July. They are a natural monument of Okayama Prefecture. The literal meaning of the Japanese name, kabutogani is "helmet crab".


N-25-1-4 : Giant salamander (osanshouo)

One of the world's largest amphibians, the giant salamander of Japan is 1.4m in total length, with a Iong body, laterally flattened tail and short limbs. The forelimbs have four digits and the rear limbs have five. The head is flat with very small eyes and no eyelids; the nostrils are at the top of the proboscis and there is no branchial cleft. The body, which is dark brown in colour with black spots, is traversed from side to side by skin fimbria. Many mucous glands cover the skin and these produce a slimy secretion which is considered to smell like sansho (Xanthoxylum piperitum), a Japanese variety of pepper. Osanshouo live in the mountain rivers of the Kinki, Chugoku and North Kyushu regions. They hide under rocks or river banks in the daytime and swim in the river at night, preying on river crabs, fish and frogs. Long, bead-shaped eggs are laid on land, some 400-500 at a time, in August or September. The giant salamander is protected as a special natural monument and "living fossil". It is a survivor from the Upper Jurassic period, some 140 million years ago.


N-25-1-5 : WiIdcat (Iriomoteyamaneko )

This wildcat is remarkable for the fact that its existence was unknown until 1965. It was discovered by a novelist, Togawa Yukio, on the island of lriomote, Yaeyama Islands, Okinawa, and officially named lriomoteyamaneko in 1967. In January, 1967, a male and female of the species were caught alive and taken to the National Science Museum, Tokyo, for study. The cat, a little larger than the domestic cat, lives in thick forest. Its body measures 60cm and tail 20cm. The ears are rounded and without the tufts found in other species of wildcat. The back has distinctive dotted markings. Being an ancestral cat, the lriomoteyamaneko is wild in nature, but it seldom cries. Since 1967 it has been protected as a natural monument.


N-25-1-6 : Akita dog (Akitaken)

The Akita dog (Akitaken) is sometimes called the Odate dog. It is a large dog weighing up to 40kg; the height of the male to the shoulder is about 67cm, the female being slightly smaller. Its body is stocky and muscular and the head is broad with small, upright ears and a pointed nose. The tail is curled. The hair, generally white, black or brown, is thick.
In disposition, the Akitaken is obedient and mild-tempered and its movements are slow and deliberate. The dog was designated a special natural monument in 1931 and the breed was classified by the Kennel Clubs of Great Britain and the United States in 1954. The nature of the breed is typified by the dog "Chuken Hachiko"; this dog waited outside Shibuya Station in Tokyo for ten years, unaware that his master had died. A statue to this faithful dog now stands outside Shibuya Station.


N-25-1-7 : Long-tailed cock (nagaodori)

This magnificent bird is a member of the Phasianidae (pheasant) family. Its crowning glory is its tail, which may be up to 6m long – a result of deliberate cross-breeding during the Edo period when nagaodori were prized ornamental birds. The breed was further refined after the mid-19th century, during the Meiji period. The plumage of the long-tailed cock of modern times is purplish, white, copper or black. The nagaodori is a protected species and a special natural monument.


N-25-1-8 : Rock ptarmigan (raicho)

In Japan, the rock ptarmigan is found in central Honshu, in mountains over 2,400m high. It is non-migratory and does not leave its habitat even in winter. The nest is built in a hollow and lined with grass; 5-10 eggs are laid during the June-July breeding season. The most remarkable feature of the rock ptarmigan, a member of the Tetraonidae (grouse) family, is its thrice-yearly change of plumage. The body plumage is striped grey and brown in summer; the grey stripes are replaced with white in autumn to give a mixed plumage. In winter the plumage is pure white except for a section near the eyes in the male bird. There is a red wattle over the eyes of both sexes.
A reclusive bird, the raicho hides in creepers or rocks in daytime, venturing out in the morning and evening to feed on shoots, seeds, flowers and fruit. When feeding, the bird has no fear of humans and is easily caught. Now, due to the very small numbers existing in Japan, the bird is strictly protected as a natural monument. It is thought to have settled in the high mountains of Japan during the glacial period, having come from countries further north.


N-25-1-9 : Japanese serow (kamoshika)

The kamoshika, an even-toed ungulate of the family Bovidae, is found in central and southern Japan – Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu – in subalpine forests 1,500-2,500m above sea level. The body is 1-1.5m long and the animal stands 70cm high at the shoulder. Both sexes have horns 8-15cm long which bend slightly backwards. The body is covered with thick, white down and dark brown hair 7-10cm long. Below the eye and in the ungulae, the kamoshika has glands which secrete an odiferous fluid and it is often seen rubbing this fluid on trees and rocks, probably as a territorial marker.
The slow-moving animal strolls around in the daytime nibbling leaves, the young buds and seeds of the alpine rose, hemlock-spruce, ground-cypress and so on. The offspring are born around June. Leather made from kamoshika hide has been used for clothing and the horns for making fish hooks. In the past, uncontrolled hunting caused a very sharp drop in numbers, but since 1955 the animal has been protected as a natural monument.


N-25-1-10 : White stork (konotori)

The white stork – konotori or kozuru in Japanese – is a large bird (total length 1.12m) with a stocky neck and thick beak. The body feathers are pure white except for the primary wing feathers, which are black; the legs and a circle around the eye are red. Until the second half of the 19th century the white stork was found in many parts of Japan but today it is rare and only seen in Hyogo and Fukui Prefectures. Some birds are being raised in sanctuaries, feeding upon the fish, frogs and other small creatures that make up the natural diet. Pollution affecting the food supply has considerably affected the breeding cycle of the white stork and many eggs do not hatch. The konotori is a special natural monument.


N-25-1-11 : Crested ibis (toki)

This exceptionally rare bird is protected as a special natural monument. Though common during the Edo period, only nine birds were recorded in March, 1970 – seven living on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture and two in a sanctuary. The toki resembles a small egret in outline and size but, in the case of the toki, the beak curves downwards and the legs, face and tip of the bill are red. The back of the head and neck are covered with light pink feathers. The bird feeds on small fish and aquatic animals and nests in the branches of trees.


N-25-1-12 : Short-tailed albatross (ahodori)

There are three species of Japanese albatross, of which the ahodori is the largest. In fact, it is the largest sea bird in the north Pacific, having a wingspan of up to 3m and more than 30 primaries. The body is white except for black tail feathers; the primaries and the tips of the secondaries are slate-coloured. The large bill is a clear pink.
Traditionally the ahodori had two breeding grounds in Japan: Torishima in the Izu islands and the Ogasawara Islands. At the end of the 19th century the colonies were millions strong.
By 1964, only 52 adult birds and 11 chicks were counted on Torishima and none in the Ogasawara Islands. The female lays a single egg in or around November and after the breeding season is over in May, the ahodori haunts the open sea. In 1962, it was strictly protected as a special natural monument of Japan and it also receives international protection. The name ahodori derives from the bird's inability to take flight directly from the ground (due to the length of its wings): ahodori means "stupid bird."


Return to top

The contents of this site are excerpted from THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF TIME CAPSULE EXPO'70(March 1975). Please note that company and organization names may differ from those of the current ones.

© Panasonic Corporation 2010