National Parks of Japan Protecting our natural heritage for future generations

KirishimaKirishima-Kinkowan National Park


Miike Wild Birds' Forest Course

Miike Wild Birds' Forest Courseの写真
Time Required:
3 h 20 min.
12.3 km
A hiking course through a deep and placid forest resonating with the songs of the wild birds.

Course Outline

This course takes you along the paths of the Miike Wild Bird Forest, located in the foot of Mt. Takachiho-no-mine, where you can observe a myriad of warbling wild birds in the midst of nature. First opened in 1972, Miike Wild Birds' Forest covers 115 hectares and is one of four national wild bird forests in Japan. Natural evergreen oaks, Machilus thunbergii (a type of laurel), Distylium racemosum (a type of witch hazel), and other trees have grown into a deep, broadleaf forest within the park, and along with the still waters of Miike Crater Lake, this provides a habitat for wild birds. From the paths and birdwatching cabin, you can observe many wild birds throughout the seasons. As you hike this course, let your eyes take in the rich green flora of Miike Wild Bird Forest and the placid surface of Miike Crater Lake, where if you listen closely, the calls of wild birds will bring you another step closer to nature.
*As of March 2018, the walking paths around Miike Crater Lake are impassible due to construction.


A birdwatching cabin popular even among birding enthusiasts
A birdwatching cabin popular even among birding enthusiasts

The birdwatching cabin

At Miike Wild Birds' Forest, you can catch sight of a myriad of wild birds throughout the year, and thus far, 151 species have been recorded, including the vivid red summer bird, the ruddy kingfisher. By being located at the birds’ drinking spot and other considerations, the birdwatching hut along the path has been designed in way that facilitates bird observation so you can quietly enjoy their beauty. You will also find the observations of other birdwatchers recorded in notebooks in the cabin.

A Quercus gilva tree from among the One Hundred Forest Giants of Japan
A Quercus gilva tree from among the One Hundred Forest Giants of Japan

Giant evergreen laurels

In the wild bird forest, you can see natural trees that are more than a hundred years old, including evergreen laurels such as Quercus gilva, Machilus thunbergii, Distylium racemosum, and Litsea coreana as well as deciduous broadleaf trees like the Japanese big leaf magnolia (Magnolia obovata) and Japanese zelkova (Zelkova serrata). Along the path is a Quercus gilva tree that is over 160 years old, stands 38 meters high and has a trunk circumference of 402 centimeters. In 2000, it was selected as one of the Forest Agency’s “One Hundred Forest Giants of Japan.” In Japanese, the name for Quercus gilva is ichiigashi meaning “first place oak,” an ode to its impressive nature.

Mt. Takachiho-no-mine reflected in Miike Crater Lake
Mt. Takachiho-no-mine reflected in Miike Crater Lake

Oji Port

Meaning “the Prince’s Harbor,” Oji Port located on the lake gets its name from a legend that tells of Emperor Jimmu, Japan’s first emperor, playing at the water’s edge as a child. It is said to be one of the seven harbors that used to be on Miike Crater Lake. From Oji Port, it is 4.3 kilometers around the circumference of Miike Crater Lake, and with a maximum depth of 103 meters, it is the deepest crater lake in the Kirishima Mountain Range. You can also see the magnificent Mt. Takachiho-no-mine if you look beyond the lake. In addition to enjoying a boat or kayak rental, many people come to fish for carp, crucian carp, and rainbow trout that live in the clear waters.

Course Map

Miike Wild Birds' Forest Course

Course Time

Starting Point
Miike Campground
30 min.
2 km
20 min.
1.3 km
Birdwatching Cabin
60 min.
4 km
Miike Campground
45 min.
3 km
Oji Port
45 min.
3 km
Miike Campground
*Course time and distance are estimates.