The "whoa!" moment was unfortunately all too brief, picking the bird up a couple of fields ahead because of its overall paleness. It's more likely that any skylark will remain unseen until it flies at close range so spotting it that far ahead was noteworthy in itself. I was initially hoping for a Greater shore-toed Lark, this is as good a season as any to find one in Japan and it would have been a Kyoto tick for me. Greater Short-toed always look outstandingly pale compared to skylarks and thus superficially similar to this bird before closer inspection.
Once I got closer it was obviously a Japanese Skylark but a very different looking bird to the norm. This could be just an unusually faded individual, though I don't recall ever seeing one like this, but I suspect some form of colour aberration is the cause of this appearance as fading alone would be unlikely to result in all these features.
First a couple of shots of a typical Japanese Skylark taken a month ago. Here the bird was singing as it walked feeding across the short roadside grass. Unlike 'normal' Eurasian Skylark races the birds here frequently sing from the ground or prominent perches.
These are a few images of the recent odd looking bird.
And here is a spring Greater Short-toed Lark, one of a party I saw two years ago.