Red crown crane (tsuru 鶴) has been one of my favourite animal to watch. They’re such graceful creatures. These birds do roam around all over Japan, but the easiest stop will be Kushiro. Kushiro is a small town to the east of Hokkaido. No fast train from major towns, 4.5 hours from Sapporo.

There are several options in the area:

  • Akan International Crane Center
  • Tsurui Ito Tancho Crane Sanctuary
  • Japanese Crane Reserve
  • Kushiro Shitsugen Observatory (Kushiro Shitsugen National Park)
  • Tsurumidai Feeding Point
  • Tsurui-It Tanch Sanctuary


For those epic crane dance in the snow photos, go to Kushiro Shitsugen National Park in the winter. Otherwise for the balance of the year, I recommend visiting the Japanese Crane Reserve instead; sheer for the chance to spot the bird.

This photo is from Paul’s blog has AMAZINGly high quality photos. Totally pro. He (& Peevna) captures wildlife beautifully. This is definitely shooting in sub zero Hokkaido winter. Need to be brave to do these shots. The title photo is also from Paul’s blog.

I am not very hardy in cold weather. I went to Kushiro Japanese Crane Reserve in summer. Got quite lucky and spotted a baby crane.

Must say, the baby didn’t look anything like its parents.
Japanese Crane Reserve Kushiro Tancho red crown cane-2794.JPG
Papa was feeding the baby. It was too cute.

Japanese Crane Reserve Kushiro Tancho red crown cane-2835.JPG

It was my first time operating the 300m lens free hand. Clearly I was not doing well *LOL*
Ops I missed again. I like crane’s butt? *LOL*


japanese-crane-reserve-kushiro-tancho-red-crown-cane-2954japanese-crane-reserve-kushiro-tancho-red-crown-cane-2853This tested my patience immensely. Although I will love to see THE winter dance, I don’t know whether I have the endurance for this type of photography.

Why were there no net in my photos? This is why.Japanese Crane Reserve Kushiro Tancho red crown cane-2631.JPGThe reserve had these holes in the net for visitors to take their clean shot. This Japanese guy was very sweet and we shared this spot; like 5min was his turn and 5min was mine.



Bring your 300m-500m with you.

Camera should shoot can minimum 7 photo per second to avoid additional frustration.

Winter is THE time to shoot the crane dance. It’s the ONLY time.

If you visit in winter, be prepared for the crowd. Tripod & lens jacket is highly recommended.

Kushiro Shitsugen observatory in winter. Hot spot for crane photos. Photo is from


Where was I?

Japanese Crane Reserve

112 Tsuruoka, Kushiro, Hokkaido, Japan



This park was easily accessible by bus. It was less than 1 hour from the Kushiro bus terminal.kushiro-akan-bus-2565**Again, will like to emphasis that only the summer photos are mine. I felt that it would make this post more informative if I offer both winter and summer photos. “Borrowed” photos’ original sources are marked in the caption beneath the photo.


Camera: Canon 5D mark 3


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  1. Great images and story Joyce, what amazing birds. We have a crane here in SE Australia called a Brolga, it is almost identical except it is grey.

  2. I was shocked that I came across several cranes at their gardens. I thought they were fake at first!
    I love that photo of all the people with their cameras – it’s like the humans are part of the attraction. Humans watching humans watching cranes. 😉

    • Really? You know the saying right? If you spot them randomly, it means that you’ll have a long life 😀

      *LOL* Yes, the camera men and their gigantic lens steals the show wahahah

  3. こんばんわ!!

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