The Hanzaki (Japanese Giant Salamander) Research Institute of Japan
Establishment of the NPO Statement of the Director Articles of Incorporation Organization
The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan
The Hanzaki Institue of Japan is a professional research Research Institute of the Japanese Giant Salamander. It is equipped with rooms for environmental education and community exchange as well as a museum. “Hanzaki” was once the standard Japanese name and “Ankou” is a local name in this area for the Japanese Giant Salamander. The common name is now Ōsanshōuo (オオサンショウウオ), which translates literally to “Giant Japanese pepper fish”.
The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan is not a public facility. If you would like a tour , you must request a visit in advance. ※※※ Contact e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Telephone/Fax (079-679-2939) .
Purpose and Background:
The Purpose and Background of the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan
Opening of the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan
Director Takeyoshi Tochimoto
"Hanzaki" is the local Japanese name for the Japanese Giant Salamander. The mouth of the Japanese Giant Salamander stretches over the entire width of its head. When open, the mouth is the same width as its body. The Japanese Giant Salamander remains still in the water, waiting intently for prey to approach its snout, and then quickly opens its massive mouth to catch its meal.
The Japanese Giant Salamander has a large mouth, as if its face was torn in half
A Japanese Giant Salamander catches its prey
This world’s second largest amphibian is distributed west of the Gifu Prefecture in Mainland Japan and in parts of Shikoku and Kyushu Islands. The Japanese Giant Salamander is prolific to the provinces in the rivers of the Chugoku Mountains, but also can be found elsewhere. Once abundant across the globe, only fossils remain in the European continent, suggesting the lineage is trending toward extinction. Only three species within the giant salamander family are known, which can be found in Japan (Japanese Giant Salamander), China (Chinese Giant Salamander), and the United States (Hellbender). Global warming is a risk to Japanese Giant Salamanders as river water temperatures are becoming too high to support them. Without adequate habitat, the Japanese Giant Salamander may soon become extinct.
The Himeji City Aquarium has been actively focused on preserving and researching the natural histories of local aquatic animals. The aquarium has been producing ecological research and recommendations for conservation of the giant salamander for 30 years. Despite being designated a special natural monument of Japan and its name recognition, ecological surveys have hardly been done. There is no way to develop conservation plans without understanding the animals’ life history. Even basic data on the longevity of these animals do not exist except for the report that salamanders brought to the Netherlands lived up to 51 years. The lack of the longevity data is partially because Japanese Giant Salamanders likely live longer than humans. There is an issue of timeframe of the research that one researcher cannot handle alone.
In my research field, there are several closed schools at Ikuno Town, Asago District, upstream on the Ichikawa River. The former Kurokawa elementary and middle schools and teachers’ quarters along the Ichikawa River caught my attention. The two-story school building had been closed in 1992. The dormitory was left clean enough to be used immediately. The building was granted to Asago City Board of Education in 2005. In August of that year I was allowed to use the building as a research base. The building was named "The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan" after the old Japanese name for the Japanese Giant Salamander. The old Japanese name for the giant salamander was chosen because the present name for the Japanese Giant Salamander, オオサンショウウオ (Ōsanshōuo),is very long-winded.
The sign of the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan
An Exhibit at the Ankou Museum Center
Carrying a search tool, a sleeping bag, and a flag saying “research in progress”, I drive around among the mountains of Ikuno by bicycle. The route back to the Research Institute is easy as it is downhill, but the trip out to the field involves climbing the steep slope of the Ikuno dam.
Ikuno was once government property and there was a magistrate's office nearby where a large Japanese-style inn (or Hatago) called "Izutsuya" had flourished. The furniture and instruments used in Izutuya were donated to the town and are housed in this school. I have a big dream now. I would like to create a miniature aquarium displaying the wildlife of the Ichikawa River and Maruyama River watersheds as well as a natural history museum displaying insects and birds from the region on the first floor of the school building. On the second floor, I dream about creating a museum of history and culture of the region. I am currently formulating a plan of developing the school into a comprehensive museum the “Asago Ankou Museum”. “Ankou” is a local name for the giant salamander. The goal is to realize coexistence between the research Research Institute and the museum.
The gymnasium can also be used for a variety of training sessions, lectures and research association meetings. Tents can be set up in the schoolyard. If the facilities and staff are improved, the school will be the center of environmental education in Tajima region, which will allow us to host awareness-raising activities and spread information. The research Research Institute can also provide opportunities of camps and river play for the children of nearby big cities. The school is entirely surrounded by mountains except for a bridge connecting the school to the road, providing a great natural setting. Looking down from the bridge, you can also observe giant salamanders in their natural habitat. In addition, there are two swimming pools that can be used as breeding facilities once water from the mountains is pulled into the pools.
The former Kurokawa elementary and junior high schools, which now house the facility
"Black Lord", who lives in a natural burrow under the bridge
We identified and are tracking 1,350 individuals that were found during a survey run from June 1975 through December 2007. More than 750 individuals were embedded with a microchip to serve as a permanent label. I am excited about the results of the individual tracking for the coming decades but I have not been left with that time. We wish to implant as many microchips as possible into juveniles, giving us the ability to identify and track them in the future. Old travel writings indicate that the salamander can be found in Ichikawa water systems from Himeji to Ikuno. The Hanzaki Institue of Japan was founded to maintain Japan’s proud natural heritage for future generations. More activities are desired for the future, but the founding of the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan has been an achievement.
The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan has obtained sponsorship from a number of people, including the NPO Research Research Institute for Regional Regeneration (since January 2006), the Asago City Board of Education, the Hyogo Prefecture and countries, and the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Step by step we move closer toward realizing our dream of protecting the Japanese Giant Salamander.
Tochimoto director speaking gently and passionately
A diagram of the Research Institute within the closed school. Little by little, our dream continues to grow.
Guide to the Research Institute and Museum
The NPO Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan and the Ankou Museum Center are located about 30 minutes by car from the town of Ikuno, accessible by the National Highway No. 429 in the Aogaki direction. They are located in the former Kurokawa elementary and junior high schools seen from the opposite shore of the big curve.
[Picture of the Research Institute]
The Ikuno Kurokawa areas and the Research Institute are a part of the Asso Gunsan Prefectural Natural Park. The local nature is considered by many to be a "whole museum." Named after the local name for the Japanese Giant Salamander, “Ankou”, we call this entire area the “Ankou museum”.
Map of the Hanzaki Research Institute and Ankou Museum Center
The layout of the Research Institute is explained below.
1) Laboratory and Research Equipment
In surveying and researching Japanese Giant Salamanders, we wade through streams during nights to observe animals. We regularly monitor individuals by capturing and measuring them for any changes. In the past, the main method for identifying individuals was by examining the pattern on its body. Today each of our salamanders is embedded with a microchip for easy identification. By comparing data and measurements over time, we are working to resolve mysteries behind the life cycle of the Japanese Giant Salamander.
Microchip and Reader
2) Research Materials, Magazines, Books, and More
Director Tochimoto has accumulated an enormous amount of research works. The books of the collection, detailing flora and fauna, have been carefully organized.
Books in the Reference Room
3) Photo Panel and Exhibition Room
The panel displays photographs of the Japanese Giant Salamander. Some of the photographs of the salamander are very valuable and rare.
4) Exhibit of Nationwide Japanese Giant Salamander Crafts
This is a very unique collection as it contains almost all of the items related to the Japanese Giant Salamander collected from all over Japan. Even an enthusiastic collector would probably envy some of the collection.
Giant Salamander Items Exhibit
5) Exhibit Hall
The former gymnasium houses the exhibition panels. It can also be used to give lectures during an event.
The Exhibit Hall can accommodate 100 people
6) Asago River Station (Artificial Nest Observation Facility)
The giant salamander artificial burrow and waterside observation facility was funded with a grant from the Foundation for Riverfront Improvement and Restoration to Asago City, and was completed with the cooperation of Hyogo Prefecture Yoka Civil Engineering. At this outdoor facility visitors can listen to the stories and experiences of Director Tochimoto and learn about the animals at the waterside.
Artificial Nest Observation Facility
7) Giant Salamander Protection Center and Shelter
Hyogo Prefecture Yoka Civil Engineering Office renovated the former swimming pool into a temporary shelter for Japanese Giant Salamanders. The facility’s water is provided by the nearby river. In the future, we plan to practice temporary rearing, conservation breeding, and sheltering as "Hyogo Prefecture Giant Salamander Protection Center".
The Giant Salamander Temporary Keeping Facility
Giant Salamanders in the Breeding Facility
8) Mini Aquarium
The building near the pool contains a mini-aquarium. Local aquatic animals are displayed here.
Visitors Look in the Aquarium
Giant Salamander Larvae
Newsletter and Magazine
All volumes of the Newsletter and Magazine are only available in Japanese. Please go to the Japanese webpage if you are interested in viewing them.
The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan Newsletter and Magazine
The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan releases a magazine twice a year in March and September. The Research Institute has also produced a monthly newsletter since February 2006.
The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan "Ankou" Newsletter
The magazine has been running since September 2009 and is sent to all members of the Research Institute, twice a year in March and September. We welcome posts from everyone.
In addition, all magazines that are older than a year can be viewed online in PDF form, going back to September 28, 2009.
[See the cover (table of contents) of the Journal of "Salamander" No. 16 (2016.3)] - PDF
[See the cover (table of contents) of the Journal of "Salamander" No. 15 (2015.9)] - PDF
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 14 View (2015.3)] - PDF
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 13, see (2014.9)] - PDF
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 12 (2,014.3) View] - PDF
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 11 (2,013.9) View] - PDF
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 10 (2,013.3) View] - PDF
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 9 (2012.9) View] - PDF
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 8 (2012.3) View] - PDF
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 7 View (2011.9)] - PDF
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 6 View (2011.3)] - PDF
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 5 View (2010.9)] - PDF
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 4, see the (March 2010)] - PDF -
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 3 View (September 2009)] - PDF -
[Journal of "Salamander" No. 2 View (2009.3)] - PDF -
[See Journal of "Salamander" first issue the (September 2008)] - PDF -
Monthly Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan Newsletter
A six page informational newsletter containing information about the events and the Giant Salamnders in our laboratory and the surrounding area has been published monthly since February 2006.
Members of the Research Institute receive every issue of the newsletter if they wish
In addition, all newsletters published over a year ago since October 2008 can be viewed online as a PDF.
Overview of Research Institute Operations
Overview of the Operations of the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan
There are roughly four pillars of the mission of the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan. The four pillars are detailed below.
1) Investigation, Research, and Technological Developments Related to the Conservation and Restoration of the Natural Environment
Better understanding the Japanese Giant Salamander is the first goal of the Research Institute. Thorough studies on the Japanese Giant Salamander have not previously been performed. Director Tochimoto has continuously worked on their research, which will be passed down to the successors in the Research Institute. The Research Institute is also studying the installation of artificial nests in the field for breeding, as the number of appropriate nest sites continues to decrease due to habitat disturbance.
Research and Studies of the Japanese Giant Salamander
This is the project that Director Tochimoto has continuously worked on for more than 30 years in the Kurokawa area to understand the ecology of giant salamanders. Focusing on a 10 km section from the Kurokawa Dam to the Ikuno dam, we identified over 1350 individuals, and embedded a microchip in at least 750 individuals to allow for simpler future identification. We continue to follow up on the identified individuals. The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan is a leader in research, even beyond the Hyogo Prefecture.
Technological Development of Environment-friendly River Banks
Due to river disasters and habitat disturbance, the number of burrows suitable for spawning has decreased. Therefore, the Research Institute is interested in providing artificial concrete nesting sites to several locations. We continue to develop better technologies to help protect the Japanese Giant Salamander populations.
2) Human Resources Development and Support for Outside-the-School Education, Lifelong Learning
The Research Institute trains leaders and develops educational materials for environmental education by providing nature-deficient children and schools opportunities to learn natural environments and to develop activities through interactions with professional instructors. We believe our work has impact not only on the present generation, but on future generations to come.
Implementation of Teaching Materials and Learning Experiences
The upstream Ichikawa river, which flows through the side of the Research Institute, is a great learning environment on the Japanese Giant Salamander and other aquatic animals. The hills and fields surrounding the Research Institute also provide great educational opportunities on land animals and plants. We will continue to plan excellent learning sessions using a variety of teaching materials and professional instructors.
Events and Observation for Society in the Habitat
Our events take advantage of the natural "salamander museum" throughout all four seasons. People of all age groups can participate and enjoy nature and the animals. (See events page.)
3) Collect and Share Information on the Natural Environment
In accordance with the spirit of the Research Institute, efforts to collect new information are always continuing with the aim of restoration and conservation of the natural environment. By collecting information on the impact of humans on nature, we will better be able to address the importance of harmony between nature and human beings, and come up with more effective solutions to the issues plaguing wildlife.
Ankou (Giant Salamander) Museum Maintenance Support
The further development of "Ankou Museum Center" is a constant goal. With the help of members of the community we are steadily improving the museum. We thank our volunteers for their cooperation and thank others in the future who help us with our project.
Our Quarterly Magazine
The Research Institute launched a magazine in September and will be releasing the next edition in March.
The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan Newsletter
A newsletter is released monthly. The newsletter details events from the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan and the local community. We strive to include the latest information from the local area and from around the country.
Spreading Information Through Our Website
Become a part of the spirit of the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan by learning through this website, and spread information to other people. Participate in events at the Research Institute and learn more about the Japanese Giant Salamander.
4) Exchange Programs and Information with Other Researchers
We would like to promote information exchanges about the Japanese Giant Salamander with people and officials around the country that aim toward conservation and restoration of the natural environment.
We not only look at conservation from a national view but from a local view as well, aiming to develop the region. We extend support for information exchanges with the people in the Kurokawa area and surrounding the former Kurokawa elementary and junior high schools.
Support for Meetings for the Japanese Giant Salamander
A national organization known as the “Association of the Giant Salamander” for experts on the animal has been launched across the country. The location of annual meeting rotates around within the distribution of giant salamanders. We are part of the rotation.
All of the literature is only available in Japanese. Please view the Japanese webpage if you are interested in viewing them.
A 2016 event calendar will be published as soon as possible. We look forward to your participation.
Bird Survey (banding and census)
Sunday June 5 2016, plan from 12 PM to 8 PM, at the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan. Please come in clothes and shoes you don’t mind getting dirty. A camera, pens or pencils, rain gear, boots, and binoculars are useful.
The blog contains news about Director Tochimoto’s activities, visitors to the Research Institute, and events and achievements. Please visit our blog as it contains up-to-date information that we cannot share on the webpage.
Topic (1) – Attractions of Ikuno
There are many interesting locations listed from the "Ikuno Tourism Association". Please check out the link below for accommodations, meals, the famous temple, and other locations of interest.
Topic (2) - Specialties of Kurokawa
The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan has many nearby attractions. Below is some information about the area and local foods.
Nature of the Four Seasons
The entire region and its natural figures can be considered its own museum. In early spring the land is covered in white magnolia, the yellow and white of the oriental paperbush, and the yellow and red of the witch hazel followed by wild cherry and Stachyurus blossoms, and finally trees begin to bud. Egg masses and larvae of amphibians can be seen in pools. Beautiful calling of Kajika frog can be heard. A wide variety of animals and plants become more active toward the summer. From summer through fall, you will enjoy the rich nature and its seasonal change of the natural museum in Kurokawa.
5 minutes to the north of the Research Institute is the village of Motomura Kurokawa, "Kurokawa Onsen ". Here there is a restaurant that serves many delicious foods such as boar meat hot pot, soba and udon noodles. The meals are large and you will be fully satisfied.
Those looking for lodging and meals can stay at " Yamabiko Sanso "(it is recommended that you contact us in advance for reservations). The " Kurokawa Nature Park Center " is recommended for a short stop-by.
New specialty Japanese-style Hayashi Rice at Yamabiko Sanso
Potato bun (with branding of cute salamander) (no longer available)
Udon noodle set meal at Kurokawa Onsen Hot Spring
Deer curry with pork cutlet (no longer available)
Kurokawa nature park center buckwheat noodles (no longer available)
Kurokawa nature park center rice balls (no longer available)
Five minutes to the south of the museum center are the Sudareno settlements, including the Japanese style inn “Kou Chan" and the Kurokawa fish farm. A recommendation at Kou Chan restaurant is “Kou Chan Udon" that comes with tasty native trout tempura. At the Kurokawa fish farm, try the amago (native trout) set meal or bowl. There is “Seseragi-Sou Inn“ 2 minutes further down the road. There is a campsite and a homestay option at the old house. In addition, the owner of the Inn takes time to cook delicious dishes. Please pay attention to their business days. It is recommended that you contact them in advance.
Kurokawa fish farm Amago meal
Kurokawa fish farm Amago bowl
Kou Chan Amago udon
Traditional farm house at Seseragi-Sou Inn
Five minutes further south from Sudanero is the campground "Sakana-ga-taki-sou Inn" There is a popular restaurant with curry rice and hashed rice. They are too good to stop eating once you start. You can enjoy great food and spend the night. Here also please pay attention to the business days. It is recommended that you contact them in advance.
Topic (3) – Salamander Souvenirs
Director Tochimoto’s "Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan Newsletter” is issued every month introducing giant salamander goods from around the country, and many are also sold here in Kurkawa.
Salamander eco bag
Salamander tote bag
Location and Contact Info
Address: 〒679-3341 Hyogo Prefecture Asago-City Ikuno Kurokawa
These organizations support the activities of the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan.
· Landscape System Co., Ltd.
- Co., Ltd. West Japan Engineering Consultant
- Landes, Inc.
- General Environmental Technos Co., Ltd.
· Corporation earth construction (Hyogo Wadayama City)
· Shimane Prefectural Lake Shinji Nature Hall Gobiusu (Matsue, Shimane Prefecture)
· Tanyo Credit Union
- Japan Research Institute of Technology University (Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture)
- Co., Ltd. Nets (Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture)
- Co., Ltd. Icon
- Ecotec West Japan Co., Ltd. (Okayama, Okayama Prefecture)
- Co., Ltd. Construction Research Institute for Environmental Studies
- West Expressway Company Limited Kansai Branch
- Co., Ltd. Malkin Agriculture and Forestry (Tamba City, Hyogo Prefecture)
· Limited company Satake stone shop (Hyogo Prefecture Asago)
· TRACEPRO Corporation (Hyogo Sanda)
- Co., Ltd. Lady Bird (Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo)
- Co., Ltd. long
- Okayama Wildlife Commission (Okayama)
· NPO Research Research Institute for Regional Regeneration
· Charitable trust Taisei nature and history Environment Fund (2015)
· SAVE JAPAN project (2014-2015)
· KJB Setouchi Fund 2013 (2013)
· Sumasui nature conservation grant (2011 through 2016
· Foundation Osaka Community Foundation (2011)
- Charitable Trust KopuKobe Environment Fund (2008 through 2016)
- Kobelco Natural Environment Conservation Fund (2010-2011)
- Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Environment Fund (2009-2010)
· Hyogo Environmental Advancement Association (2009)
- Foundation for Riverfront Improvement, "" learn to river "Activities Grant" (2009)
- Seven - Eleven Green Fund (2008)
· Foundation Single Regional Development Fund (2008)
· Foundation Tajima Furusatozukuri Association (2008)
- Hyogo Prefecture "community business take-off support business" (2008)
Joint research facility
Joint Research Institutes
San Antonio Zoo
The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan is a nonprofit research institution. The operating funds are provided from membership fees as well as the financial support of companies. The Research Institute struggles in appropriating the operating funds for not only infrastructure and utility costs but also labor costs and expenses, such as document creation and lecturers of the event. The Research Institute is looking for individuals and organizations who can provide financial support for us in the future. Companies are welcome to take advantage of the publicity of our webpage by creating links to your homepages. The Research Institute appreciates your support.
Members and Dues
Membership (Supporting members are non-voting)
(1) Full Member: individuals and organizations that have joined to support the purposes of the Research Institute.
(2) Supporting Member: individuals and organizations that joined to financially sponsor the organization
Full Membership: Individual: 5,000 yen ($46.73 USD), Organizations: 30,000 yen ($280.38 USD)
Supporting Membership: Individual: 3,000 yen ($28.04 USD), Organizations: 10,000 yen ($93.46 USD)
(Note) The listed fees the minimum fee. Contributions equal to or greater than the minimum fee are accepted.
Application and Benefits
Fill out the application form (see the link below) send us by fax or email.
Please deposit the membership fee in the bank account shown in the application form. You will receive our monthly newsletter and the quarterly magazine for one year if you wish. We will also send event information and other relevant information about the Research Institute.
[Admission application documents] - PDF -
Participation in Business and Activities
Many of our events require teachers and assistants as staff. If you would like to join us by instructing visitors in the field about plants, animals, and the natural environment, please contact us.
The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan, A Non-Profit Organization
The Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan has been a recognized non-profit organization since August 20, 2008
After serving as director of the Himeji City Aquarium and Shimane Prefectural Lake Shinji Nature Museum, Takeyoshi Tochimoto opened the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan as a private institution by repurposing the abandoned elementary and junior high school in the Kurokawa area, Asago City, Hyogo Prefecture. The Research Institute was created as a research and environmental learning facility of the Japanese Giant Salamander, as well as the “Ankou Museum Center” for everyone to enjoy.
Formation of the Research Institute began in the summer of 2005 through the cooperation of the residents’ associations of Asago, Ikuno, and Kurokawa; the Yoka civil engineering office of Hyogo Prefecture; various NPOs; and many local companies. Since then, Director Tochimoto has overseen the maintenance of housing, the research and conference room, the exhibition room, the reference room, the library, the waterfront facilities, and most recently, the giant salamander shelter in the former swimming pool. About 70 individuals are temporarily held in the shelter.
In 2006 and 2007, our visitors or people involved in the Research Institute included elementary school students, 24 organizations, 75 biology academics, 98 government officials, 44 media representatives, and 205 companies and officials. About 1800 people were involved overall. Its popularity continues to rise and the number of people involved in the organization is increasing.
2) Approaching a Variety of Challenges
Director Tochimoto has collected an enormous amount of academic materials, related books, exhibition panels, and giant salamander folk arts. Maintenance costs of these materials are high. In addition, maintenance costs of the tanks and specimens in the environmental learning center for visitor activities, utility costs, and communication costs for environmental education (such as handouts, postage, etc.) have been increasing. The Research Institute has largely been financed by the Director’s private fund and contribution from individuals, companies and officials, which however are not able to cover labor costs for the directors, stuffs, and researchers at the Research Institute. As the costs accumulate, the financial burden on director Tochimoto has increased.
The activities of the Hanzaki Research Institute include the development and maintenance of the Ankou (giant salamander) Museum Center; environmental education; academic research; and technology development and technical guidance. These activities are both public and non-profitable. We believe that this is the time to develop the long-term management plan of the Hanzaki Research Institute as a non-profit organization (NPO) by setting a firm organization and structure, ensuring the necessary expenses, and establishing long-term sponsorship with the government.
3) Future Plans and Policies
With the incorporation of the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan, one of our goals is to promote the development of the Ankou Museum Center as a museum of plants and animals that live and grow in the Asago mountains, including the giant salamander, and to create a teaching material of the giant salamander and its natural environment. We would also like to target the elementary and junior high students in Asago city and the Hyogo prefecture by providing off-campus research facilities. We would like to develop high quality education facilities and well-trained staff.
We aim to keep our facility open and accepting to researchers of the giant salamander, educators, members of the government, the general public and families, and the elderly who aim for lifelong learning.
The content in this section was added on August 20, 2008 when the Research Institute was approved as a non-profit organization following the organization meeting on 19 April, and the application submission in May.
The Spirit of the
The giant salamanders are the world's largest amphibians and reign at the top of the river ecosystem. There are the three species known in the family Cryptobranchidae (Giant Salamander family): Hellbender in the eastern North America, Chinese Giant Salamander surviving in a small portion of China, and Japanese Giant Salamander distributed in the west of Gifu Prefecture.
Although they have been protected as a national treasure since 1952, the Japanese Giant Salamander is threatened by land development and the disturbance of the rivers and their surrounding areas. Habitat has largely been relegated to the upper basin. Although river improvement, such as re-recognition of the importance of the ecosystem including its surroundings, has brought notable attentions to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment, very little is still known about the ecology of the Japanese Giant Salamander. Future surveys and research are necessary to understand their life history and to clarify the best methods for protection and conservation.
Through the cooperation with the locals, government, and NGOs, the Hanzaki Research Institute has strived to establish the research facility of giant salamanders and also to found “Ankou Museum Center” within the property of the closed elementary and junior high school since 2005. In 2007, The Foundation for Riverfront Improvement gave the Research Institute a grant which allowed us to build the artificial concrete nests to observe breeding salamanders. That same year the schools’ swimming pool was converted into housing for the salamanders with the help from the Hyogo Prefecture Yoka civil engineering office. A number of giant salamanders are kept in the pool.
Kurokawa area in Asago City is experiencing a population decline and the remaining population is aging. By establishing a research facility and a museum with the theme of the giant salamander within the closed school in this area, not only the local people but also people even beyond the area including children, families, and the elderly, can come visit the facilities to learn and interact with one another. In the future, it is believed that the use and the value of this closed school in Kurokawa will expand.
The reason for this fresh start as a NPO is that the local people, government, academics, and people in various fields, were all essential for their diverse perspectives in order to proactively and persistently implement the above-mentioned activities. We believe that the role of our organization is to adjust and maintain the cooperation between these many groups of people.
Here, the Hanzaki Research Institute of Japan started as a NPO with the goals of the conservation and restoration of the giant salamander and the natural environment surrounding it, through the exchange and cooperation of individuals and organizations with a similar spirit; the promotion of research and study; technology development; learning support and human resources development; public relations and activities to increase public awareness; and to contribute to the creation of a sustainable society and the preservation of the ecosystem.
Doctor of Philosophy (Agriculture)