Birdwatching in Tokyo : Meiji Shrine


Near JR Harajuku Station, Meiji Shrine is a shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken.

Meiji Shrine is famous for attracting particularly large numbers of worshippers at the beginning of the year, but outside the approach, there is a vast Imperial Gardens, one of the leading bird sanctuaries in Tokyo.

This article introduces bird-watching at the Meiji Jingu Gyoen National Garden, where birds of prey such as goshawks live in the center of the city.

Bird Watching spot : Minami-Ike


There are many bird watching spots in the large site of about 83,000 m2, but the easiest place to find many birds is the huge pond in the center of the Imperial Gardens.

You need to pay 500 yen at the entrance as a cooperative fund to maintain the Imperial Gardens.

Great cormorant (KAWAU)


The most active waterfowl in the pond is the great cormorant.

They are eye-catching creatures that dive into the water looking for fish to feed on, and move around the pond.

As you can see in the picture above, they often stay on wooden stakes and spread their wings.

They, including great cormorants, have less oil on their wings than other waterfowl, and their wings absorb water more easily.

So after diving for catching fish, they need to spread out your big wings, expose them to the sun, and dry them.

When I visited, they were sunbathing with his wings spread for a long time.

Heron (AOSAGI)


In contrast to Great Cormorants, herons hardly move.

They have a habit of working from evening to morning, except during the breeding season, and they stay in the same place and rest during the day.

I stayed between 13 o’clock and 15 o’clock, but I could hardly see them moving, and in the evening, they could be seen taking off from the ground.

Egret (SAGI)


There are three kinds of egrets, large, medium and small, and all of them can be seen in Japan.

The average size is 90 cm to 95 cm for big egret, 68 cm for medium egret, and 61 cm for small egret.

When you see them from a distance, it may be difficult to distinguish the difference between the small egret and the medium egret only by their size.

It is easy distinguish the difference the difference between the small egret and the the medium egret  by looking at the color of its legs.

You can see the difference between the small egret whose toes are yellow and the medium egret whose whole legs are black.

Also, there is a difference that the small egret prefers waterside, while the medium egret prefers grass.

White-eye bird (MEJIRO)


I couldn’t take a picture of White-eye bird in Minami-ike because he took off right away, but there was a white-eye in the reed field of the pond.

Their favorite food is nectar, which they stick to the flowers and suck up the nectar, but while sucking the nectar, they hover while flapping their wings.

It’s just like a hummingbird.

This is often seen from early spring to spring when plum and cherry blossoms bloom.

Great tit(Shijyuukara)


The reed field (Ashihara) in the pond, I found a great tit.

Since the great tits like insects, they may have been feeding on scale insects that are hiding in reed stems.

Bird Watching spot : near Toilet

There is a public toilet in the Imperial Gardens, and the area behind the toilet is off-limits.

As I observed, I noticed that there were many birds flying toward the copse behind the toilet.

And I was waiting for the bird to show up in front of the toilet for a while, and I could see the buzzard!

Buzzard (Nosuri)


This time I visited the Imperial Gardens of Meiji Shrine targeting goshawks, but I couldn’t see them.

But instead, I found a bird of prey called the buzzard, which may be rude.

I regret that I didn’t have time to observe it carefully because it took off right after I found it sitting on a branch, but I get excited when I see wild raptors.

It was worth standing in front of the toilet all the time.

Bird Watching spot : Shoubuta


When I took a look at the planting of the paved road to Shobuda, I found green pheasants.

Some of the green pheasants and mountain pheasants living in the Meiji Jingu Gyoen seem to be familiar to humans, and some come close to the feet of humans.

black-faced bunting (Aoji)


Aoji has the appearance of being confused with sparrows.

The size is almost the same, but you can distinguish the yellowish green part of the belly from black-faced bunting and the white from sparrows.

Other than the breeding season, they like dark places and often walk on the ground, so they are relatively easy to find in Meiji Jingu Gyoen.

Bird Watching spot : Kiyomasa no Ido

Kiyomasa no Ido

Behind Meiji Jingu Gyoen is “Kiyomasa no Ido” which is said to be one of the best power spots in Tokyo.

As you can imagine from the name, it is said that the well was dug by Kiyomasa Kato, but it is not known who dug the well and for what purpose.

Since it was featured on TV, it was once crowded with tourists, but now it is a very quiet place with few visitors.

It is said that there is no benefit as a power spot on the internet, but I heard that yamagara sometimes visit there to drink spring water, so it is a place that I want to visit as a bird hunting spot.

Bird Watching spot : Kakuuntei


Built on a small hill, Kakuuntei was the resting place for the Emperor and Empress.

The road to the north gate through the back of Kakuuntei is also a place where you can hear the birds’ voices very loudly because it is a poorly maintained forest.

There are many places where you can hide birds, so I recommend you to take your time to find them.



I saw the figure of the thrush on the road where dried grass is piled up and not so many tourists pass.

But they ran off into the grass, and was only seen for a short time.

The cry of the thrush is eerie, and it is said that it was once called fabulous monster and feared.

They often walk around the ground because they eat larvae in the ground.



According to the people who maintain the park, feeding wild birds, not only yamagara, is prohibited.

It’s a cute little bird, so I understand how much you want to interact with it, but it’s not good for people to interfere too much in the life of wild birds.

Bulbul (Hiyodori)


A bulbul can be seen anywhere in Japan. But it’s a bird that lives only in the Asian region, so it’s a rare sight for foreign birdwatchers.

The bulbuls eat anything, they are sometimes treated as harmful birds that damage crops. It makes me feel strange when I hear that there is a bird lover from overseas who comes all the way to see such birds.


This time I visited only Gyoen, but there is another bird hunting spot called “Kitaike” in Meiji Jingu where you can see spot-billed ducks and mandarin ducks.

Kitaike is also popular because you can see beautiful birds such as kingfishers and roosters.

Why don’t you go there if you are nearby?

You can surely refresh yourself by looking at wild birds away from the hustle and bustle.