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Field Guides & Natural History  Natural History  Regional Natural History  Natural History of Asia-Pacific

Japan The Natural History of an Asian Archipelago

Field / Identification Guide
By: Mark Brazil(Author)
384 pages, 878+ colour photos, colour illustrations, and colour distribution maps
Publisher: WILDGuides
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Average customer review
  • Japan ISBN: 9780691175065 Flexibound Jan 2022 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 6 days
Price: £29.99
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About this book

This richly illustrated guide is the first comprehensive and accessible introduction to the extraordinary natural history of the Japanese archipelago. It explains how Japan's geology, geography, climate, seas and currents have forged conditions supporting a diverse range of species – from cranes, bears, eagles and monkeys to plants, butterflies, dragonflies, frogs and snakes – many of which are found nowhere else in the world. Engaging and authoritative, Japan: The Natural History of an Asian Archipelago is a must-have for anyone who wants to explore or learn about Japan's natural wonders, from the Japanese Macaque – the famous snow monkeys – to the magnificent Steller's Eagle.

Customer Reviews (1)

  • Succinct and informative
    By Keith 2 May 2023 Written for Flexibound
    Now that there are few travel restrictions for most parts of Asia tourists are once again returning, and for many birdwatchers, Japan is high on their bucket list. Until the Pandemic there were over 300,000 British visitors travelling to Japan annually and although airline prices are currently higher than before this great destination is just 12 hours away on direct flights. Many places are seen as summer-only destinations, but Japan has much to offer at all times. This book sets out the various options in a very approachable way.

    Nobody has done more in recent years than Mark Brazil to raise the profile of Japan’s wildlife and this latest book packs in a lot of information with nearly 900 photographs supporting a comprehensive but understandably dense text of around 600 words per page. He starts by describing the country – its climate and its habitats. Japan is 20% larger than the British Isles and lies about 2000 km further south with its southern tip being level with Morocco. The northern tip of Hokkaido is level with central France but with warming sea currents dominated by cold ones it can experience severely cold weather – as low as minus 32’C earlier this year.

    The diversity in its flora and fauna is impressive as are the degrees of endemism due to the country’s isolation from the continent of Asia for the last 15 million years. As an example, more than 170 mammals have been recorded in Japan and of these 50 are endemic. In addition, there are around 100 species of reptiles and 50 amphibians plus 200 species of dragonfly and damselfly. Among the 278 breeding birds, there are 21 endemics, 14 of which are considered threatened to some extent by BirdLife.

    Among many topics covered, space is given to discuss the relationship between people and nature and the impact of Japan’s declining rural community. Indeed the country’s population has declined in every year since 2008. One of the changes being noticed is the move of some wildlife closer to the cities. There is an explanation of the tourism potential of nature and the growth of birdwatching locally – with 50,000 people now belonging to the Wild Bird Society of Japan.

    Mark Brazil then takes each of the main regions – Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu (combined) plus the many islands that actually support many of the endemic birds – such as Okinawa, Amami Oshima and the Izu islands. Although birds are mentioned on almost every page the main section devoted to them runs to just six pages – but the majority of bird references are given in short essays and fact boxes interspersed within the regional chapters. In that way, the book is somewhat random in its delivery of information, but I did not find that detracted from it. There is a comprehensive index so you are best using that to search for what you want. The colour photographs are excellent and well-captioned, and there are useful colour maps pointing out the main places of interest.

    Having visited Japan twice for birding and used Mark Brazil’s books on both trips this new one adds information about the ecology of the country that helps the visitor to make sense of how everything fits together.
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Mark Brazil is a naturalist, international wildlife expedition leader and natural history author who specializes in Japanese wildlife and lives in Hokkaido, Japan. His books include Birds of Japan, The Nature of Japan, Wild Asia and Birds of East Asia.

Field / Identification Guide
By: Mark Brazil(Author)
384 pages, 878+ colour photos, colour illustrations, and colour distribution maps
Publisher: WILDGuides
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