Local birdwatching in Tokyo at Zenpukuji Park

Where is a good place for local birdwatching in Tokyo? There are many good spots. But I’ve now added one more to the list. And thankfully, it is near my house, so it doesn’t take much time for me to get there. It is Zenpukuji Park.

One of my students told me about it. He is also a keen photographer, so we often swap stories. Fortunately, he told me about the park. And best of all, he mentioned the types of birds in it.

Zenpukuji Park is interesting.  It has two ponds, divided by a road. Apparently, it has a good reputation for cherry blossoms in spring.  You can enjoy them from the water if you rent a boat.  I haven’t experienced those yet, but I will one day.

It was too cold for rowing on the day I went. Anyway, the boats were all under covers on the shore. They looked like they wouldn’t be in the water until the 2023 season.

When I first walked into the park, it looked average. If you go, don’t expect anything like Shinjuku Gyoen. It’s the type of place families go to let their kids run around. They can get noisy. But that doesn’t turn the birds away.

In Tokyo, I’ve photographed many birds. But my student told me about a special one, a kingfisher. You can find them at Koishikawa Korakuen. The one in that park’s pond is famous and attracts photographers. It’s difficult to capture as it nests on an island. You need a super long lens for it. Zenpukuji’s is better for pictures.

They hang around the southern pond’s trees. Mine was so close, barely ten meters away. That was good because these birds are so small. Local photographers were also there. I needed all the help I could get due to my bad eyesight.

I really enjoyed it because it was still autumn and the ginkgo trees were still yellow. That provided a stunning background for the kingfisher. It gave me many good photos.

What birds visit Zenpukuji Park?

Some of the birds include:

  • Crows
  • Great cormorants
  • Great egrets
  • Grey herons
  • Kingfishers
  • Parakeets
  • Pigeons
  • Spot-billed ducks

When and Where can you see the Kingfisher?

The best time to see them is in the afternoon. They’ll be in the southern pond on its east side. You’ll need sharp eyes to see these tiny birds in the trees. Also, local photographers go there to photograph it so look for them. There are usually quite a few.

Where is Zenpukuji Park?

Zenpukuji Park is in Tokyo’s Suginami ward. It is between Kichijoji, Nishi-Ogikubo, and Kami-Shakuji Stations. From all three, it is about a twenty-minute walk. There are also buses, but I haven’t used them yet. Click here to see the map.

By the way, if you are also into shrines, you are in luck. A few minutes’ walk away is Igusa Hachimangu. It’s a real local place and very important in Suginami Ward.

Wrapping up

Zenpukuji Park is a good place for local birdwatching. It is home to many types of birds that inhabit Tokyo. But if you want to photograph kingfishers, this might be the best place. It is in a good location and completely free!

One day, I’ll update this article. I need to do that as several birds were missing for my visit. If possible, I’d like to add the great cormorant and grey heron. Please leave questions and comments below.

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