Japanese Giant Salamanders live in rivers in rural Japan and are not easy to find but fortunately there is a Japanese “Salamander Whisperer”: Ito Yoshihiro. Yoshihiro’s English is limited so English only speaking visitors might prefer to go there with Andy Murch’s Big Fish Expeditions.
My buddy Mick Todd and I met up with Andy and a Big Fish Expeditions group in downtown Tokyo. We then took a bullet train from Shinagawa station to Gifu Prefecture in the Chūbu region of central Japan. From there we travelled by mini-bus to Wara where we were greeted by the ever friendly Yoshihiro. The Whisperer certainly knows the local river bed and all the underwater mini-caves and recesses that the Salamanders burrow into. It wasn’t long before our group was photographing and videoing the Giant Salamanders.
Our group spent that night in a nearby traditional mountain-style hotel, the single guys in one large room sleeping on tatami mat floors. We each received a soft bed roll to sleep under although for extra comfort I slept on mine instead. Mick slumbered to my left. Soundly! But then he had consumed a pack of Kirin and a bottle of Suntori. Martin Voeller slept to my right. It was a cold night and in my sleep, presumably beginning to feel cold, I sleepily dragged Martins bed roll off him to drape over me. Martin took this well although I had to return his bedroll to him.
Japanese Giant Salamanders Gifu Prefecture
Japan October 2017
Video by Mick Todd and Julian Gunther