Tancho Cranes

Hello everyone!
I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday seasons!
Today, I would like to introduce a little bit of information about Tancho Cranes that I have learned up in Hokkaido.  It was truly fascinating to hear about the historical backgrounds of these iconic birds of Japan so I thought it might be worth sharing. Kunihito Otonari, a member of the NPO “Tancho Community“, explained to us the conflicts that Tancho Cranes have faced through history and the problems that they are still facing today.

The cranes used to live in the mainlands of Japan and could be found in various places over the country. Japanese have long felt special bonds to these birds and the cranes have grown to be symbolic, partly because of how these birds nest in pairs and how easily they can be tamed, but also because of how the size of the red head signifies the tancho’s feelings. According to Otonari-san, the red part expands when the  cranes get excited or tense, which made it easier for humans to understand these birds and to relate to them. They have also been symbols of good luck, since Edo-period.
For this reason, only the Shogunate could hunt the cranes, and they were mainly hunted for eating, to drink their blood (there was a superstition that drinking tancho blood prolonged human life), or for being made into pets. However, after the Meiji Restoration, the commoners were given permission to hunt the cranes as well. This increased the population of crane hunters resulting in the endangerment of the Tancho Crane specie. By 1952, the numbers dropped to 33. Due to this extremely low number, artificial feeding of the cranes started from 1950, and up to this day, there are still feeders in Japan.
Currently they can only be found in eastern Hokkaido, and the number of cranes are slowly increasing. However, because the cranes have gotten used to being fed, they are only nesting in certain areas. This is causing the over-population of the cranes in small areas, where as a whole, the cranes are still listed as an endangered specie.

Knowing that Tancho Cranes have long had a social function in the Japanese society, we are hoping to look further into the history of these birds and how they have related to the people of Japan. So be ready for further information about Tancho Cranes that might be posted in the future!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading about this red-headed creature aaaaaand…

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

tancho christmas






Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!
tancho christmas


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