Lake Hyo [瓢湖]
Feeding time in Lake Hyo
Lake Hyo is a small artificial lake.
"O" in the word is pronounced long and "lake" is "ko" at the end of the Japanese word, so it is read as "Hyôko" in Japanese.
It is in Agano city and is located about 18 km southeast of central Niigata city.
It is only about 0.7 km from east to west and 0.5 km from north to south in width.
But from October to March, more than 5,000 swans and some tens thousand of migratory birds come to this small lake.
The surface of the lake is filled with swans and ducks at a peak period.
This lake was built as a reservoir in 1639.
In 1950, swans came here for the first time.
In 1954, a man succeeded in feeding the wild swans.
So this lake was designated as a national natural treasure.
And in 2008, this lake was inscribed as a registered wetlands under the Ramsar Convention.
The lakeside is a park, and we can see the birds here.
In the season, they are fed in this lake three times a day.
They don't fear humans, so we can see the birds nearby.
The first swans come from Siberia around the beginning of October.
The number of the swans increase gradually, and it becomes 3,000 in late October and over 5,000 in late November.
Of course, the swans travel to the surrounding areas sometimes.
So the number of the swans are not always in this lake.
Rather, the number of ducks may be much larger than the swans.
In December, the number is around 4,000.
Many swans may stay in the other place.
From early January, the number begins to decrease, and it becomes under 2,000 in early February.
The last swans return to Siberia in early March.
How to get here
From Niigata to Niitsu, about 20 minutes by local train of JR Shin-etsu Line.
Change to the local train of JR Uetsu Line.
From Niitsu to Suibara, about 11 minutes.
Then, from Suibara station to Hyoko, about 5 minutes by route bus.
When you walk from the station, it takes about 30 minutes. (About 2 km)