Standing in a field, armed with binoculars, staring at a tree doesn’t sound like the best way to spend a chilly autumn evening. And yet, when the musasabi (giant flying squirrel) poked its little head out of its small house, it was totally worth it.
Wrapped up snugly against the cool air, we were on the flying squirrel watching tour run by Picchio (Italian for woodpecker), the wildlife research and eco-tour centre in the Hoshino Resorts complex.
We had met at Picchio about an hour before sunset for an educational talk about the flying squirrels before walking to one of the little wooden houses Picchio has constructed for the flying squirrels, where they could see, via a video camera, that one was asleep.
He woke up ten minutes after sunset, right on schedule, and poked his little face out of the house.
He climbed to the top of his tree and launched himself out across the field and into another tree. We scurried towards the next tree, and suddenly he was off again, sailing into the next tree. Following him again, we desperately searched the branches for sight of him. We were beginning to think we’d lost him when suddenly he launched into a final flight—right over our heads!
That was the last we saw of him, but seeing three flights is pretty unusual so we were happy with our experience.
Picchio is an organization that conducts conservation activities, wildlife research and environmental education. Their philosophy is that if they can prove the economic value of the natural environment, people are more likely to protect it for future generations. They are passionate about the unique natural environment that surrounds Hoshino Resorts and enjoy sharing it with visitors.
They run various outdoor tours all year round, suitable for a variety of ages, fitness levels and interests.
In winter, for example, you can go on a snow picnic. Just strap on a pair of snowshoes and trek out into a field of snow where you can sit at a snow table and drink coffee in a sunny winter wonderland.
Or if you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, head into the forest in the snow for a chocolate fondue party. Way more fun than chocolate fondue inside!
In the warmer months, you can hike Mount Asama, with a knowledgeable guide who can tell you all about the surrounding flora and fauna. In certain areas you are almost 100% guaranteed to see antelope!
Why not try a spot of stargazing with a guide who can tell you all the stories in the stars? Or a mountain bike ride through the autumn foliage? Or a campfire in the forest, where you can bake apples and toast marshmallows?
Drop in at Picchio during your stay at Hoshino Resorts, or come by for the day and try out one of the many eco-tours they offer, knowing that you’re supporting an organization that is actively working for the environment they live in.