Japan - iNaturalist World Tour

We’re featuring on Japan on the World Tour today.

Here’s the GADM Level 1 and Level 2 places we’re using. Thoughts on these places?

What can we do to get more people using iNaturalist in Japan?

As noted here, there are problems with the islands that should be attached to Tokyo prefecture (level 1). Several of the Bonin or Ogasawara islands are missing, and the islands that are mapped are labeled “Unknown7” at level 2 (rather than “Ogasawara”), and they have been attached to Shikoku prefecture rather than Tokyo.

thanks choess - that will be good to fix

Thank you! It might not be a bad idea to search for Unknown1-6. ;)

Working with @kobori 2 years ago when Tokyo started participating in the City Nature Challenge, I made a “Tokyo with Islands” place since she too noticed that Tokyo was missing its islands. After adding and subtracting islands, I think we finally got all the right ones: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=124352

Hello all. GADM Level 1 is our prefecture and Level 2 is our city. It is our address so nice to us. :)
iNat is very nice to me but sometimes I feel if there a way something better.

  1. observations from the ship. The place of them isn’t in Japan.
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2) many known(s). I think most of my id(s) are “Plants” and “Fungi”. I often add them to unknown(s). Isn’t there a way to reduce unknown(s)?
3) auto suggestion is very nice but there are so many not in Japan species. I think it’ll get better when we have enough observations but it’s not enough now. Our government website “Biodiversity Center of Japan” has mesh data of species. Can’t iNat use it to improve auto suggestions? The pdf below is gastropods(2/2).
There is a nice search engine but it need Japanese language.
Thanks to come to Japan. :)

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Are they unknown because people have not identified them, or because you know what it is, but the species is not in the iNaturalist database to select ?

Even in North America with so many more users and records something like 70% of fungi records dont get identified, there are too many similar species and not enough confident identifiers.

Unknown that I said is people have not identified them. Usually it is obviously flowers without any id(s).

Here in South Korea I noticed most of the ‘Unknown’ records are from new users that have been using iNaturalist for less than two months and/or have fewer than 50 observations. Could it be a similar situation in Japan where users are still learning how iNaturalist works and leave records as Unknown when they upload?

I agree with the most of the ‘Unknown’ records are from new users. The topic of this thread, what can we do to get more people using iNat, is how can we motivate them, I suppose. New users upload something to know what it is. If it have kept “Unknown” a week, they may disappoint and leave here.

I’ve created and bookmarked a link for new observations for South Korea without all of the power users – maybe something similar for Japan will make it easier to find Unknown observations from new users. I usually add a quick ‘Welcome to iNaturalist’ message in English and Korean with an @ tag directed at them. That way the user feels like someone has recognized them while also showing them a way that they can communicate with other users if they want to initiate contact.


@harumkoh - there is a broader discussion about the entry of ‘Unknown’ observations that you can read here : https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/why-do-some-serious-power-users-add-so-many-unknown-observations/282

While some people believe you should leave them as ‘Unknown’ for a period of time, to me it is important to try and classify them, even if that is just into ‘Birds’, ‘Plants’ etc as quickly as possible to increase the chances any reviewers will see them as they look for records and not have to scan through large numbers of records to get to them.

Unfortunately, if they are already entered, then it just comes down to people putting in the time to do the classifications. I do have a standard text I will copy and paste encouraging what are clearly new users to try and at least enter something as an ID. How effective it is, I really have no idea.


@whaichi , You are a nice man! How you make a filter of without all of the power users? I’ve just noticed “Account creation = In the past week” filter in identify screen. Is it the filter you said?

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@cmcheatle , thanks for giving a link of the discussion. I understood there are many reasons to put their record to ‘Unknown’. I’ll put a week old ‘Unknown’ to coarse IDs.
I usually copy placeholder to comments because it is the Japanese name of species usually. It is a specific and important information. :)

I guess one comment I would make about waiting a week, is in Japan, you have ‘only’ 1,150 or so pages of records in your ID pool. Waiting a week does not push them too far down the pages.

Here in Canada, we have 15,000+ pages of records on the Identify page, the US has over 180,000 pages. Waiting a week to do a coarse ID can result in them being dozens or even hundreds of pages into the list since the default order is when entered, not when last updated.

That’s kind of you to say. Actually, when I first joined iNaturalist you were one of the first people to help identify my observations so now I want to pay that forward to other new users. :)

This is the link that I use for South Korea:


The parts you will want to change are:

  • not_user_id=
    Enter the User IDs you want to exclude, using a comma between each. To find a User ID, go to the Profile, choose an option like ‘Followers’, then click ‘Back to [user] Profile’. The User ID should then show up in the address bar. To get you started, here are some of the top observers’ IDs for Japan and their User ID #:
    … harumkoh … 37749
    … harazaki … 1243007
    … belvedere04 … 398475

  • place_id=
    Enter the Location ID. You can find it from the Explore tab.
    … Japan … 6737
    … Tokyo … 10935 (If you only want to check observations from Tokyo)

Put those together, and here is a link (newest first) for observations in Japan excluding you, harazaki, and belvedere04:


From that link you can also change the Filters to narrow the list of results. (Sometimes I only want to look at Insects or Arachnids instead of everything together.)

I am not an expert at making iNaturalist links, but if you have any questions about it I would be happy to help as much as I can. :)

@cmcheatle , Thanks for the comment. I found a useful filter “Date added - Range - End = the day a week ago click on the calendar”. There are 99 pages of unknown. I’m thinking I’ll add an initial ID in my spare time. :)
By the way, I found a moth yesterday, auto ID said it is Underwing Moths and it was what I thought. Auto ID seems getting smarter so we can expect it’ll reduce unknowns in the future. :)

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@whaichi , I remember sea-kangaroo found my observations and added dragonfly species of Japan when I joined iNat. It still motivates me. :)
Thanks for the detailed description. I didn’t know the way to filter records. I’ll try to spend more time records of new members.


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