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Gyotoku Bird Observatory

Oct. 9, 2020 update: The new Gyotoku Bird Observatory “I-NEST” will be opened from Sunday, October 11th. In addition to bird watching, information on history, culture, art, life, and environment will be provided. Please come to the visitor center for interacting with people, recreation, and learning.
Opening hours: 9 am to 5 pm
Closed: Mondays, year-end and New Year holidays
Address: 4-22-11 Fukuei, Ichikawa, Chiba
Inquiry: Gyotoku Bird Watching Cottage (Phone: 047-702-8045 in Japanese only)

April 6, 2020 update: GREAT NEWS! All our efforts were not in vain. Due to the many friends of the Gyotoku Bird Observatory, together with the support of Ichikawa City Mayor Hirotami Murakoshi, the newly-designed Gyotoku Bird Observatory building is now under construction, scheduled to open around the beginning of July 2020! More details (in Japanese) here.

New Gyotoku Bird Observatory Building
New Gyotoku Bird Observatory Building
(photo credit: Ichikawa City)

Jan. 14, 2016 update: Just last month, the Chiba prefectural assembly decided to close the Gyotoku Bird Observatory indefinitely, due to severe damage to the building caused by the disastrous earthquake that occurred in Japan in March 2011. The prefectural assembly is not planning to either resume operations or reconstruct the observatory, but rather to reclaim the bird sanctuary wetland.

If this decision stands, Japan will lose a national treasure and great place to observe aquatic birds in their natural waterfront habitat. In order to save the Gyotoku Bird Observatory, an online petition has been started and is directed to Chiba governor Kensaku Morita to encourage his government to reconsider their decision. If you'd like to learn more or would care to sign the petition, please visit Thanks for your support!

View video, produced by "A group of people who love Gyotoku Wild Bird Observatory," in separate window here.

The Gyotoku Bird Observatory is a 56-hectare natural habitat for aquatic birds located in Ichikawa, Chiba, Japan. This area was once known internationally as a natural habitat where large numbers of waterbirds gathered.

In those days, more than 260 species of birds could be seen here. But through the years with increased development, the tidal flats and marshes that were home to these many birds began to disappear.

Gyotoku Bird Observatory tidal flats
Gyotoku Bird Observatory tidal flats

To help reverse this situation, in November 1979 Chiba Prefecture established this wildlife protection area to serve as a wild bird sanctuary. If you're a bird lover and ready to escape Tokyo's concrete jungle, the Gyotoku Bird Observatory is a great place to observe aquatic birds in their natural waterfront habitat.

Gyotoku Bird Observatory Visitor Center
the old Gyotoku Bird Observatory Visitor Center

The old facility included a three-story visitor center and educational facility, as well as a small adjoining bird hospital to care for injured and sick wild birds. The 2nd floor had 44 telescopes and a large picture window for viewing the expansive wildlife protection area.

Gyotoku Bird Observatory building telescopes
2nd floor telescopes in the old observatory building

On Sunday afternoons and national holidays at 1:30, there was a group bird watching tour of the normally restricted special bird sanctuary zone, which you could sign up for in advance on the 2nd floor of the observatory building (please see my video below of a tour I took Feb. 27, 2011). There was also a tour on the 4th Saturday of every month at 16:30 (16:00 from Oct. thru Jan.).

Birds one can expect to see here include: Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Great Cormorant, Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Mallard, Spot-billed Duck, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Common Buzzard, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Common Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Common Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Oriental Turtle Dove, Common Kingfisher, Buff-bellied Pipit, White Wagtail, Brown-eared Bulbul, Daurian Redstart, Dusky Thrush, Bull-headed Shrike, Carrion Crow, Grey Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, and Common Reed Bunting.

bird hospital patient
bird hospital patient

My Gyotoku Bird Observatory
(行徳野鳥観察舎) Photos

The thumbnails below are a sampling of my 86 photos hosted at Flickr. Clicking on the collage will open up my Flickr photo page. I hope you enjoy them!

Gyotoku Bird Observatory photos

Click here to view all of my Gyotoku Bird Observatory (行徳野鳥観察舎) photos, taken Feb. 13, 2011.


On Sun. afternoon Feb. 27, 2011, I joined their bird watching tour from 13:30-15:30. There weren't a lot of birds that day because of the strong winds, but it was a sunny day and we got a lot of exercise walking around this HUGE bird sanctuary. Smiley  I hope you enjoy my video below:

View video in separate window here.

Feeding time at the Gyotoku Bird Observatory
Wed. Feb. 8, 2017, 3:45 pm
View video in separate window here.

Hours of operation: Open 9 AM – 4:30 PM everyday, except closed Mondays (or Tuesdays following a Monday holiday), the last Friday of every month (for cleaning), and the New Year holidays (December 28 – January 3). (new building presently under construction)

Admission to the Gyotoku Bird Observatory and use of the library, audio-visual room, and exhibition rooms are free.

Gyotoku Bird Observatory Address:
4-22-11 Fukuei, Ichikawa, Chiba 272-0137
Tel: 047-397-9046

Access: The nearest station is Minami-Gyotoku on Tokyo Metro's Tozai subway line. If you have long legs like me, the 2-km trek should only take 20 min. or so. You can also take the Keisei Transit Bus from Gyotoku Station bound for Shin-Urayasu Station and get off at the Fukuei 2-chome stop. From there, it's 700 meters on foot.

Google Map of Gyotoku Bird Observatory

For more info:
Friends of the Gyotoku Bird Observatory Building (行徳野鳥観察舎友の会):
Friends of the Gyotoku Observatory Building Blog: (Japanese)
Tokyo Birder 2006:
Gyotoku Bird Sanctuary:

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