Japanese Wildlife SummaryJapan’s islands cover a wide variety of habitats and climate zones. In fact, Japan’s southernmost islands, including Okinawa, have a hot, humid, subtropical climate, while the northernmost island of Hokkaido has long, cold winters and cool summers. This means that the country’s unique wildlife also varies greatly. There are large mammals such as bears, unique seagoing mammals like the dugong, and a few rare and amazing animals you may have never hear of – raccoon dogs, giant salamanders, cute snow monkeys, and island wildcats.
The Official National AnimalWhat animals are Japan’s national symbols? The so-called snow monkey, the Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), is Japan’s national animal. Japan also has a national bird – the Japanese pheasant or green pheasant (Phasianus versicolor).
Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in JapanSnow monkeys are the top animal to see during your visit to Japan. They can be found at Jigokudani Yaen Kōen snow monkey park in Nagano Prefecture. The best time to see them is during the winter, December through March, when snow is on the ground. Would you like to see bears in Japan? check out the Kuma Bokujo bear park in Noboribetsu, Hokkaido. They can be found there year-round. Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular activities in the warm southern waters. You may see tropical fish or even some of Japan’s aquatic mammals.
The Most Dangerous Animals in Japan TodayYou should always give wildlife plenty of space. This is true for its two bear species. The wild boar has also been known to bite and give chase. If you see these animals in the wild, keep a safe distance. A number of venomous snakes live in this country. These include the Japanese pit viper or Mamushi and the Okinawan habu. Bites from giant centipedes and redback spiders, as well as giant hornet stings, can be dangerous and may require medical attention.
Endangered Animals in JapanJapan is home to a number of rare species endangered of becoming extinct. These include the Japanese short-tailed bat, Southeast Asian long-fingered bat, Bonin flying fox, Amami rabbit, Tokunoshima and Ryuku spiny rats, Ryukus Islands tree rat, Etigo mole, Orii’s shrew, Izu tit, Okinawa rail, Yanbaru long-armed scarab beetle, sword-tailed newt, Anderson’s crocodile newt, Ryuku leaf turtle, Sakishima grass lizard, banded ground gecko, Hakuba and Oita salamanders, Holst’s frog, greater and Okinawa tip-nosed frogs, and the Amami Oshima frog.
Japanese Animals List
- Asian Giant Hornet
- Asiatic Black Bear
- Barn Owl
- Black Widow Spider
- Common Buzzard
- Fire-Bellied Toad
- Flying Squirrel
- Glass Lizard
- Glow Worm
- Golden Oriole
- Green Bee-Eater
- Honey Bee
- Japanese Chin
- Japanese Macaque
- Japanese Terrier
- Long-Eared Owl
- Masked Palm Civet
- Monitor Lizard
- Peregrine Falcon
- Pond Skater
- Raccoon Dog
- River Turtle
- Shiba Inu
- Slow Worm
- Stick Insect
- Tree Frog
- Water Buffalo
- Water Dragon
- White Tiger
- Wild Boar
- Wolf Spider
- Wood Turtle
Animals in Japan FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What Is Japan's Most Famous Animal?
It could be argued that Japan’s most famous animals are those of mythology. The Japanese dragon has a serpentine shape, likely based on sea snakes. Other myths speak of fox spirits that can transform into humans.
Many of these animal spirits are reflected in anime and other media. For example, the cute characters of the Pokémon franchise, such as Pikachu, could be said to be Japan’s most famous animals. Some of these creatures, like Ninetails, are based on animals of myth, which are in turn based on real animals. Others were derived directly from childhood experiences catching bugs in Japan. All embody the cute ideals of kawaii art.
What Kinds of Animals Live in Japan?
Japan is home to about 130 mammal species. The largest are the Ussuri brown bear (Ursus arctos) and the Asian black bear (U. thibetanus).
The Japanese macaque lives farther north than any other monkey in the world. It is often referred to as a snow monkey, famous for bathing in natural hot springs to stay warm during winter snows.
Japan is also home to a few very unique small to medium-sized mammals. One is the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides). It is a canine, related to the fox, but its markings resemble those of the North American raccoon. There are also two wildcats, the leopard cat and the Iriomote cat. Each of these housecat-sized wildcats lives only on a single island.
Other familiar mammals include the red fox, the Japanese marten, sika and Japanese serow deer, and wild boar. Unique ocean-dwelling mammals include the Steller’s sea lion, dugong, and finless porpoise.
Over 600 species of bird have been seen in Japan. These include red-crowned cranes, Japanese woodpeckers, copper pheasants, green pheasants, the Okinawa rail, the Izu thrush, and the Bonin white-eye. Like the wildcats, some of these birds are endemic to only a single island or a few small islands.
There are about 73 species of reptiles and 40 amphibians in Japan. The Japanese giant salamander is one of the largest amphibians in the world. Sea turtles and sea snakes may be seen in coastal waters. The tropical islands are home to several species of viper, and non-venomous snakes, lizards, and freshwater turtles are found throughout Japan. The Chinese alligator has been spotted in Japan, and fossil evidence has been found of an extinct crocodilian called Toyotamaphimeia machikanensis.
More than 3,000 types of freshwater and saltwater fish have been observed in Japan.
What is Japan's Animal Symbol?
The snow monkey or Japanese macaque is Japan’s national animal.
But many people also see the animals of the zodiac as symbols of Japan. The zodiac includes twelve animals: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and boar.