Kinosaki Inspirations

Where are the Storks?

  • On the lookout for Oriental White Storks during your stay in Toyooka? The local saying goes "you can forget your lunch box, but don't forget your umbrella." With over 59 inches of rainfall being the yearly local average, any traveler planning a long stay in Japan's town of Storks should pack for the weather with an umbrella of their own. After all Stork-watching is an experience best done during the rainier spring and summer months when the chicks hatch and spread their fledgling wings. Where's best to see them and their parents? While the Hyogo Park of the Oriental White Stork and Hachigoro Toshima Wetlands are the popular go-to spots for tourists, those looking for a more off-road, solitary experience need to look no further than our list below:

  • Izushi River

    The waterways curving through Toyooka's landscape have been a major source of the townspeople's identity for generations. While the unmatched breadth and gleaming waters of the Maruyama River claim an iconic spot among Toyooka's natural wonders, the smaller Izushi River in the south boasts an unrivaled population of Oriental White Storks, a phenomenon due to the shallower waters perfect for hunting the aquatic critters Storks love to eat most. Travellers extending their stay in Toyooka or Kinosaki Onsen with a visit to Izushi are encouraged to hit the open road with a rental car, enjoying the five-kilometer stretch of riverside Stork-watching.

  • Artificial Nesting Towers

    Oriental White Storks always make their nests above ground in trees, and more recently, nesting towers. Ever since the 2005 re-introduction of the Oriental White Storks into the wild, man-made nesting towers for stork families to call home have sprung up throughout Toyooka's rice fields and forests. During the hatching season between April and May, nest-watchers may be lucky enough to see newborn stork chicks starting to wiggle their wings with their parents! There are a total of 26 artificial nesting towers scattered about Kinosaki Onsen, Toyooka, Izushi, Kannabe, and Tanto, many of which can be found alongside main roads during a drive. For your next walk or drive through Toyooka, check the list of nesting towers below:

  • Restaurant Amita
    Restaurant Amita

    Morizu and Taki Rice Fields

    A drive down from Kinosaki Onsen to Toyooka's city center delivers more than just astounding views of the sweeping Maruyama River - a well-loved patchwork of local rice fields just off the main road receives peckish feathered friends year round on the hunt for some good eats. Oriental White Storks have taken to these fields as one of their frequent stomping grounds for catching frogs, insects, and other small creatures.

    Feeling a bit hungry yourself? Park the car and step into the nearby restaurant Amita for some local cuisine coupled with panoramic views of the rice fields beyond.

  • Kaya Wetlands
    Kaya Wetlands

    Kaya and Tai Wetlands

    The Kaya and Tai Wetlands are locally managed wetlands located along the Izushi River and near Hiyoriyama, respectively.
    The Kaya Wetlands are easily accessible by car, a perfect stop along a drive from Kinosaki Onsen to Izushi! Alongside the wetlands teeming with Oriental White Storks on the hunt for their next meal, the Kaya Wetlands also provides an educational visitor's center for guests to take a rest inside.

    Located just north of Kinosaki Onsen in the small fishing village of Hiyoriyama, the Tai Wetlands are lovingly cared for by a local troupe of volunteer women who call themselves the "An Girls." Regularly leading cleanup events to maintain the area's reputation as a choice stomping ground for local storks, visitors strolling through might catch the An Girls sprucing up the wetlands with a couple storks for company!

  • Tai Wetlands
    Tai Wetlands
  • An Girls
    An Girls

  • About

    Danielle Leveille

    Danielle Leveille

    Junior Local Expert

    Originally from Chicago in the USA. She currently works for Visit Kinosaki as a coordinator for international relations. A lover of Tajima beef and hidden sightseeing spots, she can be found either at one of her favorite restaurants or exploring a secret nook in town.