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12 ducklings make 700-meter move from Kyoto temple pond to local river minus parents

Ducklings, guided by locals with cardboard sections, traverse a pedestrian crosswalk in Kyoto's Sakyo Ward on May 13, 2021. (Mainichi/Kazuki Yamazaki)

KYOTO -- Twelve ducklings that had grown up in a pond on the grounds of a temple in Japan's ancient capital moved to the Kamo River about 700 meters to the west on the morning of May 13.

    In normal years, the parents lead their ducklings from Yoboji temple in Kyoto's Sakyo Ward to the river, but this year the ducklings made the move without adult supervision for the first time.

    Followed by locals holding sections of cardboard to guide them, the ducklings walked for about an hour and 40 minutes to the river. Ten officers from Kyoto Prefectural Police's Kawabata Police Station and two police cars were deployed to control traffic. Though the ducklings stopped occasionally, perhaps because they were tired, they made a quick last push across the street by the Kamo River and seemed to be swimming comfortably after jumping into the river.

    The duckling procession from pond to river has been an annual event since 2005, when a duck flew in and laid eggs at Yoboji temple. Chishu Ninose, the 43-year-old chief priest at nearby Shinnyo-in temple who helped guide the ducklings, commented, "I was so worried because they were without their parents, so I'm relieved that they made the trip safely."

    (Japanese original by Kazuki Yamazaki, Osaka Photo Department)

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