Japan is a land full of surprises and variety due to its proximity to the tropics, and conversely the boreal zones of the Asian mainland. Habitats are variable as well, largely due to the mountainous nature of this long island chain. In one region alone you can travel from cool temperate rain forest to subtropical lowland hills and islands.
In this video series you get the chance to see Japan’s many faces – the flowering plants, ferns, trees, shrubs, and even animals season by season. What you will find may surprise you. I know it did for me the first time I stepped into its forests, mountains, and hidden valleys. So, enjoy this seasonal tour.
Spring Scenes part I – Spring in southern Japan starts sometime in mid-March with a rush of flowering plants and general growth. Temperatures remain on the cool side most days and nights can very downright cold. By the first week of April the iconic cherry blossoms of this nation are in full swing, as are seemingly countless other species of flowering plants, ferns, and even mosses. Watch the parade of early spring in this video and be amazed.
Spring Scenes part II – The spring series continues in this epic episode. By mid spring wildflowers are peaking and plant growth in general is rampant in southern Japan. You can see a wide array of flowering plants, including wildflowers, orchids, vines, and trees and shrubs, as well as many ferns in full spring growth. This video captures the essence of spring in southern Japan from the finishing of the cherry blossom season in mid April up to late May, just before the monsoon rains of June soak the landscape.
Monsoon Season Scenes – June marks the beginning of the summer monsoon season – a period of seemingly continuous rains. This is a time when a number of flowering plants are at their best, and interestingly several fruits become ripe, notably Japanese plums, hence the Japanese name for this season: the plum rains. Rivers rage, ferns flourish, and myriad insects grow in number and size, creating their signature choral din by this season’s end. In this video you’ll see many common and rare plants, including 11 species of orchid, one of which is critically endangered, Odontochilus hatusimanus. The season ends in mid July with the Yamakasa Festival in Fukuoka City.
Summer Scenes – Mid summer in southern Japan is a time of hot and humid days. The mountains provide a respite from the heat, especially around creeks and waterfalls. In this video we visit the low mountains of Kyushu, on the outskirts of Fukuoka City, to see the common plants and scenes of this lush, temperate rainforest. Despite the high heat, many plants flower and flourish in this tropical feeling season. The insects too, especially innumerable cicadas, are making such a din that you can’t hardly think.
Fall Scenes – The maturing of the fall season in southern Japan is a long process, starting sometime in mid September, culminating in November and fading into winter around mid December. This video tracks the common events, scenes, and life of that transition over the entire season – approximately three months. You’ll see the mundane and the bombastically beautiful, so have patience and watch the whole thing.
Winter Scenes – WInter in southern Japan is a time of cold winter winds and rain, and even snow now and then. Because temperatures rarely fall below -2 C (28 F) or so on average, you can see flowering plants even in the coldest periods. Late December thru early February are the coldest, with late February and March warming up significantly. In this video you get to see not only scenes of winter and plants in their native haunts, but also the birds that are more dramatic this time of year since the insect life is at a near stand still, and is nearly silent. A slice of Japanese winter awaits you.
2 Replies to “Japanese flowers, ferns, trees and scenery season by season”
all the best for 2016 to you and your family. I am Horst from Germany and by chance I stumbled over your youtube channel and website which are really fascinating. I have been to Japan four times as a tourist and since I am fascinated by botany in general, I looked at these wooded hills quite enviously. Unfortunately we were not equipped to climb the hills as you are (and I doubt that I would survive these hikes…). In any case we did some hiking in the Tsumago-Magome area where the route is well accessible also foreigners that cannot ask for their way. I remember that my eyes constantly searched the slopes for anything that would be interesting. Orchids would have been interesting but I only found faded plants (we always travel in November). Anyway, there was a lot to see apart from that and your videos were a good surrogate for live viewing. We have been in Kyushu for two weeks driving through Amakusa and the Mt. Unzen and Kumamoto areas and I also remember those impressive Dhalia imperialis in the yards. Your growing recommendations very much reflect what I thought: There is no chance to get them to blossom in Germany.
The other thing that fascinates me are ferns. I have never seen such a variety of ferns in any country outside Japan. Each time we travel there, I bring some species back to Germany and sometimes they even survive. Unfortunately it is almost impossible for me to identify the species. At least Cyrtomium fortunei and Lepisorus thunbergis disclosed their secret. Some others still wait for their naming.
We haven’t been to Fukuoka yet (except of the Shinkansen station, of course) but I am really surprised how rich nature is, so close to this huge city. I always asked myself why Japanese to to live on hills. Is it because of religious beliefs (I only saw temples and shrines on hilltops) or because of the earthquakes? Maybe you can answer this. I would appreciate your feedback.
Thank you again for your wonderful youtube channel and never stop reporting of your tours. Southwest CHina is also a botanical Dorado. I have been to Yunnan already…
Hi Horst. I am happy you are enjoying the site and youtube channel. Japan is a fascinating place, spanning so many different climate zones. Even locally I can see plants ranging from true subtropical species near the coast to cold temperate ones that are limited to the higher mountains. As for climbing hills, they are really straight up here due to their unstable nature.
BTW, that is one reason why people don’t often build homes in the mountains (except along valley bottoms) – the land is just too unstable and landslides are very common in the summer monsoon throughout much of Japan. Even so, each year houses and roads are lost to landslides, and sometimes people die. In July 2009 we had one meter of rain fall in just four days time. The river that flows through the valley I live in flooded parts of my town and there were many landslides in the mountains, destroying roads, and even killing a mother and daughter in their home when the mountain gave way.
I will be creating more videos in the near future and writing new articles on this blog. I am a busy guy, so this is really my side job/interest, otherwise I’d be at least twice as productive! I hope one day to work less (I teach English) and do more of this work – my dream.
Thanks again for your interest!