The Siberian Swans of Gohoden Yusuichi, Azumino
Migrating from Siberia each winter, hundreds of swans descend on an otherwise anonymous pond and marshes of Gohoden Yusuichi in Azumino, to the delight of locals and visitors who journey all the way to Nagano just to see them. Typically arriving in October and remaining as late as May, the swans idle away the winter days floating and feeding around the Sai River and smaller waterways*.
Locals look forward to the arrival of the swans each winter, a yearly reminder of the passing seasons. While in Azumino, the swans have plenty of company as hundreds if not thousands of ducks also descend upon the same ponds. Visitors can purchase buckets of feed to throw amongst the ducks and swans – something that is certain to get a reaction as big groups of ducks – of which there are many varieties – quack their way along, to follow the feed. The swans are a little less hectic and casually move across to the water to any feed thrown in their direction.
Should you wish to visit, morning is the ideal time as the swans often spread their wings and take to the skies during the day, returning to pond at dusk. Set against the backdrop of Japan’s North Alps, the sight of the swans is popular with nature and wildlife photographer while the ducks are especially good fun for families with children.
*When the swans come and how long they stay depends on the seasonal temperatures, which fluctuate each year. December to February is the most reliable time of year to see them.
All day / best: in the morning
October to May (at the latest) / best: Dec. to Feb.
Approximately 1.5 hours drive from the Jigokudani Monkey Park
Akashina Station, on the JR Shinonoi Line, is the nearest station to the pond. Once at the station, taxis can get you to the swans in around 10-minutes. Alternatively, for visitors driving themselves, the pond is located around 15-mintes from the Azumino IC on the Nagano Expressway. Parking is free