Useful Books

Many people ask me to recommend books about nature in Japan. I have an extensive library myself and I’m always looking to add to it. I have just become an Amazon Associate, so I’d be grateful if you could support my work by buying your nature books through Thank you!

Konchuu (Insects)

This book on the insects in Japan is aimed at Japanese elementary school kids, which is great for me because it has furigana with all the information. The names are in katakana in the main part of the book, but you can find the Latin names in the index. The pictures are very clear and, while it doesn’t show everything (of course!), you can get a good indication of the type of insect from this book. Really good for beginners and for people who want to study Japanese through nature!

The Dragonflies of Japan

Hokkaido … Chuugoku/Shikoku … Okinawa

I love these books! This series of three field guides is perfect for identifying the dragonflies and damselflies you find in Japan. There are drawings and excellent photographs of most species, together with extensive information (in Japanese). Names are given in katakana and Latin.

The Coleoptera of Japan in Color

Volumes 2, 3, and 4

These are must-have books for anyone who is serious about identifying the beetles they find in Japan. The three volumes are expensive but they contain pictures and keys to help in the identification of almost every species known in Japan, including nearly 700 species of longhorn beetle. As everything is in Japanese, I just thumb through the pages until I find a picture matching the specimen… not very professional I know!! By the way, there is a Volume 1 but it contains mainly keys and line drawings of larvae so most people won’t need it.
Volume 2: ground beetles, rove beetles, stag beetles, scarabs and chafers, etc.
Volume 3: jewel beetles, click beetles, ladybirds (ladybugs), etc.
Volume 4: longhorns, leaf beetles, weevils, etc.

Handbook of Longhorn Beetles in Japan

nihon no kamikiri-mushi handbook

This is only a small book but it contains information and photos of the commonest 150 longhorn beetles in Japan. For your information, there are more than 800 species of longhorn in Japan! Wow!!

Handbook of Japanese Caterpillars

Imomushi handbook

Another great field guide, this time to some of the beautiful caterpillars we can find in Japan. It’s far from an exhaustive collection of photos but it’s still a very useful little guide.

Konchuu no Zukan

A field guide to the insects of Kyushu and Okinawa

I think I probably use this book more than any other and I sometimes take it out into the field with me. It has pictures to help in the identification of about 2,500 species of insects from all the major groups, and it’s especially useful for butterflies, moths, dragonflies, and beetles. Latin names are at the back.

Chou (Buterflies)

Yama-kei Field Guide to the Butterflies of Japan

This wonderful little book is the most useful I’ve seen for identifying butterflies. It has pictures of the 250 species we can see in Japan and there’s lots of useful information (if you can read Japanese!!).

Kouchuu (Beetles)

Yama-kei Field Guide to the Beetles of Japan

Another useful little field guide, this time for beetles. No Latin names, unfortunately, but we can look those up on the Internet! I’d recommend it for people who are curious about beetles but don’t want to spend the money on the big identification books, which are a bit expensive. However, it can be frustrating when you pick up a beetle that isn’t in this book, so the main beetle books (The Coleoptera of Japan in Color) are much better.

Tanbo no Ikimono Zukan

Living Things in the Rice Field

Now, this book is fantastic! I can highly recommend it because the photographs are beautiful and the whole concept is perfect. It has everything from water beetles and dragonflies, to frogs and fish, to snakes and snails. Oh, and plants, but I don’t often look in that section (sorry plants!). Anyway, you will also love this book I’m sure! (Just to make it clear, this book is all in Japanese)

Nihon no Kumo (The Spiders of Japan)

An invaluable field guide to the spiders of Japan. I bought it a few years ago and it’s had all the spiders I’ve ever found. It features around 600 of the 1400 species found in Japan. Not too bad.

Amphibians and Reptiles in Japan

Although my main interest is in insects, I am also rather partial to amphibians and reptiles, which made the purchase of this book a necessity for me! It is the only one you need. It’s all in Japanese but the photos are brilliant and for each species you can see the Latin name and English name (if there is one). Excellent!

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