Toyooka City, located in northern Hyogo prefecture, is home to the national natural treasure, the Oriental White Stork. Commonly known as ‘kounotori’ in Japan, had become extinct in the wild in 1971. Toyooka City set out on an arduous project to preserve and reintroduce the stork back into the wild by creating a captive breeding project with the remaining captive storks.
The project includes efforts for captive breeding, reintroduction to the wild, habitat preservation and education for sustainable development.
Wetlands have been created and unused rice paddies have been turned into biotopes. Even rice cultivating methods have been developed and changed to help support the storks. As a result, a safe and wholesome rice called “Stork Natural Rice” is now cultivated. This rice bans agrochemical use or requires an 80% reduction in use.
More than 40 years since the last stork vanished from the wild, Toyooka has begun fulfilling their promise to the kounotori to “one day, bring you back to the wild”.
Currently, more than 100 storks can be found soaring through Toyooka’s skies.