Skip to content

Higashiyoka Higata

About this location

Tidal flats facing the Ariake Sea in Kyushu, Japan. The number of shorebirds and plovers flying here is the highest in Japan, and endangered species such as the black-faced spoonbill and the sheldrake are often observed. About 170 species of birds can be observed here. The difference in tidal range is the largest in Japan, and the tidal flat extends about 5 km from the shore, so you need to come near high tide rather than at low tide or the birds will be far away. There are many sandpipers, and the occasional murmuration is a must-see spectacle.

What kind of birds can we see?
  • Snipes and plovers (Black-faced Spoonbills, Curlew, Common Sandpipers, etc.)
  • Gulls (grey-headed gulls, etc.)
  • Ducks (sheldrake, etc.)
  • Address: Higashiyoga-cho, Saga City, Saga Prefecture
  • Airplane: 10 minutes drive from Saga International Airport
  • Train: 30 minutes by car from Saga Station on the JR Nagasaki Line
  • Car: 50 minutes by car from Saga Yamato IC
  • Basically, driving is recommended. There is a parking lot at Nature Center Higasasu that can hold 217 cars. From the Higasasu parking lot to the photo-shooting point is about a 5~10 minute walk. However, this parking lot is not the best because the Higashi Yoga tidal flat is vast and you will have to walk around the place to find a spot you like. The best place to park is on the bank in front of the tidal flat. There are several points on the bank where you can drive up and park (see the map below).
Shooting locations and tips
  • The structure of the area from the offshore is “mudflats – fence – place where you can take pictures (depth of about 30-40m) – bank – road”, and many people The structure of the area from the offshore is “mudflats – fence – place where you can take pictures (depth of about 30-40m) – bank – road”, and many people If you want to take close-up shots of birds, you will need a 600mm lens or longer. If you want to take a long shot of sandpipers murmurations in flight for example, use a 200mm lens or less.
  • The best time is between 2 hours before high tide and high tide, and the tide is 5 meters or higher. Tide information can be found here.
  • Although the footing of the shooting location is maintained, the area in front of the fence is mud like mud flats (there are concrete paved areas at intervals of about 50 meters). intervals of about 50 meters). According to a local resident, the tide sometimes rises halfway to the location of the photo shoot on spring tide. Because of this fact, many photographers wear rubber boots.
  • There is no shade at the shooting location, so sun protection is necessary. For example, in mid-March, I got quite sunburned after shooting only in the morning for two days.
  • The area around the shooting location is a field and rice paddies, and there are no stores in the area.
  • There are no chairs at the shooting location. The ground was dirty. Birds sometimes stay still for a long time, so it would be good to have a folding chair.
  • As mentioned above, the tide rises at spring tide, so the ground at the shooting location is basically covered with dry mud on top of concrete.
  • The area available for shooting is vast, and the birds themselves frequently move from place to place. There are some grassy areas on the other side of the fence (tideland side), so you can either take your favorite spot and wait for the birds to come to you, or you can move around with lighter equipment.
  • The murmuration of the sandpipers is quite spectacular. It is said that the best time to photograph at the Higashi Yoka Tidal Flat is two hours before and after high tide, and this behavior is also often seen during this time. According to locals, it is also common to see this behavior when the foothold is lost due to high tide. From what I was able to observe, this behavior was often seen when other birds took off at the same time. For example, a flock of black-headed gulls would take off first, followed by a flock of sandpipers a few moments later. When the sandpipers take off, the flocks of sheldrake and other birds begin to fly as well, and the scene becomes a frenzy of birds in flight. Once the birds settle down, they land in a different place from where they had settled down, and the scenery changes drastically.
  • Seagulls and black-headed gulls often fly in the air, looking down. This seems to be because they are looking for creatures (food) on the mudflats. While flying in the air, they sometimes make a sudden turn at a certain timing and land on the ground as if they were going to crash. If you look at where they land, you can observe and photograph them catching crabs and other creatures.
Back To Top