When visitors think of birdwatching in Tokyo they perhaps first think of the city’s string of “bird cafes” (cat cafes having now lapsed into something of a cliche), “owl cafes” or even Ikebukuro’s “Bar in which penguins are present.” But the city does provide another, wilder, option.
A flock of parrots, escaped from cages in apartments all across the city, has established a colony in Ookayama, in the city’s Southwest.
The parrots were noticed by photographer Yoshinori Mizutani, who noticed them, sitting in long lines and watching him silently from power lines as he walked along an Ookayama street early one morning. He wondered where this non-native, and slightly sinister, army had come from and eventually tracked them down to a gingko tree where they spent the night in a communal nest, on the campus of the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Science.
The parrots rise amid raucous cries with the sun and set off around the gardens of surrounding suburbs for food, before returning to roost in darkness just as the sun has set. With early mornings, and motion-detention flash snares, Mizutani was eventually able to gather the striking images of the birds that he put into his book “Tokyo Parrot”.
I wanted to see the parrots too, so one evening just before sunset, I headed over the TITS (yes, really) campus. Perhaps it was too early – or too cold? – but I didn’t see a single parrot. Instead though, I admired the beautiful modern architecture spread over its park-like grounds, crystal cubes or cathedral-like spaces where bright, dedicated people worked on solving the world’s problems.
The atmosphere was restful in the grey, rainy twilight. Even without a single parrot sighting, it was a worthwhile trip.