Freephone an expert 01306 744 656

Send Enquiry
Opening Times
10am - 5pm
10am - 5pm
10am - 5pm
10am - 5pm
10am - 5pm
10am - 5pm

Call 01306 744 656 or

For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in Japan

How to responsibly interact with Japan’s Asiatic black bears

Throughout history, people have been living alongside nature in all its forms…

By Amelia Hiorns
Wildlife researcher and conservationist

I was researching bears in Yellowstone, Montana when I first heard about Picchio Wildlife Research Centre from a field colleague. I’d always been keen to live in Japan and was especially interested in its conservation. The country has an abundance of wildlife and throughout history, people have been living alongside nature in all its forms. Picchio enabled me the opportunity to pursue this dream in Karuizawa, a town completely entwined with the surrounding forests and mountains, like many others in Japan, that enjoy this close, connected relationship.

When you visit Picchio, you’re under the guidance of a conservationist with years of experience working with black Asiatic bears. Our principal duty is to manage the contact between humans and bears by keeping the bears away from the more built-up areas, thus allowing them to coexist peacefully with local people. While here, you will see up close the ways in which we help ensure this harmonious coexistence, as well as have the opportunity to engage in actual fieldwork yourself.

The experience starts with a half-hour lecture introducing you to our work and our background with the bears. Then we take you on the road and out into the forest for the practical part of the demonstration. From checking the bear-proof dumpsters and barrel traps recycled from oil drums to processing research and conducting radio telemetry (a number of the bears are equipped with radio collars to monitor their movements), you are encouraged to throw yourself into the experience.

You will also get to meet our lovely  Karelian ‘bear dogs,’ dogs that track and deter the bears from town. I personally love it when these dogs make their appearance and how excited people become – they’re really friendly and people are often surprised by this. They deserve all the attention they can get!


  • Community
  • Trips to take
  • Wildlife

Alfred & Amelia Hiorns

Amelia started working for Picchio in 2019 after a summer internship. Since then, she has supported a number of nature tours, researched sites for wildlife observation and assisted in writing a published scientific manuscript. She has also given several presentations about Picchio’s activities and taught over 20 new interns about how to carry out various tasks including surveys, processing research on captured bears and analysis. In between work Amelia loves bird watching and exploring new places.
Amelia Hiorns

Plan your holiday withAlfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Richard, who's travelled extensively in Japan. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the tea devotee who'll introduce you to the ceremony surrounding Japan's national drink, the noodle guru who'll teach you how to make the perfect bowl of soba and the ryokan owner who'll tutor you in the relaxing art of the onsen.

Freephone an expert 01306 744 656

Subscribe to Newsletter

Let us inspire you with holiday ideas, exclusive event invites and travel offers from our network of contacts around the world.