Hokkaido Winter Tour
Snow Festivals, Landscapes & Wildlife
24 Jan. – 8 Feb. 2020
16 days | EARLY BIRD PRICE $8295pp | 6 places left
Experience a winter wonderland in Japan!
From the world famous Sapporo Snow Festival, to unique wildlife including cheeky snow monkeys, elegant tancho cranes, the world’s largest eagles, and snow-covered landscapes, winter is an amazing time to experience Japan. Join us on our incredible 15-day Hokkaido Winter Tour, where you will experience these amazing winter highlights of Japan!
Led by Julius Pang, a Japan expert and multi-award-winning travel photographer, you’ll learn how to take better travel photos and visit the best spots in Hokkaido to take amazing photos of the winter landscapes and wildlife.
Starting in Tokyo, Japan’s amazing capital and the world’s largest metropolis, we make our way north to Hokkaido.
Highlights include the world-famous snow monkeys of Nagano, the most northern and coldest climate living monkey species in the world. The beautiful town of Biei, famed for its beautiful rolling landscapes and trees. The stunning night view of Hakodate.
Over in eastern Hokkaido, you’ll experience some of the most amazing winter wildlife in the world up close. In Tsurui, Japan’s national bird, the tancho cranes come every day to feed and are the picture of elegance as fly and dance. The town of Rausu is known as the eagle capital of the world with the winter migration of hundreds of Steller’s Sea Eagles and White Tail Eagles. There is also the Blakiston’s Fish Owl here, the world’s largest owl and critically endangered.
Our tour ends in Sapporo during the Sapporo Snow Festival. This is one of the world’s most famous winter festivals and draws visitors from all over the world to see amazing grand snow and ice sculptures in the centre of Sapporo.
This is the tour that shows you the postcard shots, the nature, and the secret hot spots of winter Japan. Book now – all you need is your camera and passport!
Day 1 – TOKYO – [Wed 22nd Jan]
Arrive at Narita or Haneda Airport and make your way to our accommodation. Early arrivers can join our optional tour to Odaiba Bay, home to the some fantastic architecture, including the iconic Fuji TV Building, and the the amazing digital art experiences at the TeamLab Borderless Digital Art Museum.
A welcome dinner will be held and we’ll discuss the photography and activities we will undertake in Tokyo over the next two days.
Day 2 – TOKYO – [Thu 23rd Jan]
An action-packed day first exploring several of Tokyo’s most famous sights. First stop is Tokyo International Forum, a beautiful bit of architecture in the heart of Tokyo.
After lunch we head to vibrant Harajuku, famous for its crazy fashion and youthful vibe. In the evening we visit Shibuya, home to the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing.
We finish off our day with a visit to Tokyo Skytree, the second-tallest structure in the world and tallest in Asia at 634m! There are amazing views to be had and fantastic opportunities to capture the Tokyo cityscape literally beneath you.
Day 3 – TOKYO, MATSUMOTO – [Fri 24th Jan]
For our final morning in Tokyo we start off with a morning visit to Sensoji Temple, one of Tokyo’s most important and popular temples. In the afternoon we head to Matsumoto City, home to the stunning Matsumoto Castle, one of only 12 original castles in Japan, and ranked among the best.
Day 4 – SNOW MONKEY PARK – [Sat 25th Jan]
We leave Matsumoto in the morning and head to Yudanaka Onsen to visit the Snow Monkey Park. Watch as the famous snow monkeys frolic and relax in their own hot spring! We have a whole day of shooting here before heading to Nagano in the evening.
Day 5 – HAKODATE – [Sun 26th Jan]
We make our way north today to Hakodate on the Hokkaido Shinkansen, Japan’s newest and fastest bullet train. Watch the snow covered landscape as we speed by at up to 320kph towards Aomori city, before passing through the Seikan Tunnel which connects Honshu island with Hokkaido island.
After arriving in Hakodate in the afternoon, we’ll visit the Hakodate Ropeway during sunset, enjoying one of the best night views in Japan.
Day 6 – ASAHIKAWA, BIEI – [Mon 27th Jan]
We take a leisurely train ride in the morning towards Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. We stop for lunch before making our way to Asahikawa.
During the afternoon, we’ll head south of Asahikawa and spend time photographing the snow-covered landscapes around Biei town, one of Japan’s most picturesque locations.
Day 7 – BIEI – [Tue 28th Jan]
A full day of exploring picturesque Biei today. The beautiful trees and rolling hills of the area have been featured in numerous Japanese commercials over the years, and have drawn countless photographers from around Japan and overseas looking for minimalist landscapes.
In the afternoon, we make our way to Shirohige Falls, a beautiful waterfall that flows into the Biei River lined by snow-covered trees along its banks.
Day 8 – KUSHIRO – [Wed 29th Jan]
Our final morning photographing Biei, before making our way to eastern Hokkaido. We finish up in Kushiro, which will be our base for the next couple of days as we photograph the iconic tancho cranes (red crowned cranes), the national bird of Japan.
In the afternoon, we’ll visit the Akan International Crane Center for our first experience of the tancho cranes.
Day 9 – KUSHIRO, LAKE KUSSHARO – [Thu 30th Jan]
Today, we’ll spend all morning photographing the wonderful tancho cranes. A pre-dawn start as we head out to the famed Otowa Bridge from where we can see a resting spot for the cranes. During very cold weather, mist forms over the river creating a ethereal scene as cranes fly in and dance about in the distance.
After a rest and lunch back at our hotel, we leave Kushiro head north for a quick visit to Iozan, an active volcano with numerous sulfurous vents that can be seen up close! We then head to Lake Kusharro and its resident population of whooper swans.
Day 10 – NOTSUKE PENINSULA – [Fri 31st Jan]
A final morning shoot of the tancho cranes at Otowa Bridge before we head towards Rausu.
On the way, we visit the Tsurui Ito Tancho Sanctuary for another session photographing the tancho cranes. We then depart Tsurui and visit the Notsuke Peninsula, home to many bird species and the Ezo Deer. The landscape around here also includes many interesting withered trees.
We finish up in the fishing town of Rausu, located on the Shiretoko Peninsula and renowned as the eagle capital of the world.
In the evening, we visit a special viewing spot in Rausu for a chance to see the rare Blakiston’s fish owl, the largest owl species in the world.
Day 11 – RAUSU – [Sat 1st Feb]
A very special morning on this tour as we board a special morning boat cruise amongst the drift ice off Rausu port to photograph sea eagles.
During winter, around 2000 Steller’s sea eagles – almost a third of the species’ population – migrate to Hokkaido, with most ending up around Rausu. Steller’s sea eagles are the largest species of eagle in the world, with a wingspan of up to 2m and weighing up to 9kg. Joining the Steller’s sea eagles are just as many white-tailed eagles, also amongst the largest eagle species.
In the evening, we’ll have another session photographing the Blakiston’s Fish Owl.
Day 12 – RAUSU, OBIHIRO – [Sun 2nd Feb]
A final morning cruise to photograph the sea eagles off Rausu Port.
We depart Rausu later in the morning and head back into central Hokkaido to Obihiro. This city is right next to the famous Tokachigawa Onsen area, home to rare moor hot springs.
In the evening we visit the beautiful Sairinka Festival, one of Hokkaido’s best small winter festivals.
Day 13 – OBIHIRO – [Mon 3rd Feb]
An early morning start as we explore the Tokachi area and visit a beautiful location for some sunrise photography.
Returning to Obihiro, we’ll enjoy some time watching Banei Horse Racing, the only horse races in the world featuring enormous draught horses.
Day 14 – OBIHIRO, SAPPORO – [Tue 4th Feb]
A free morning to relax at one of Obihiro’s hot springs. The hot springs in this region are rare moor hot springs, and your skin will feel silky smooth after a good soak!
We leave Obihiro in the afternoon for Sapporo where the world-famous Sapporo Snow Festival will be in full swing. Check out the ice sculptures as they glitter under the bright lights of the Susukino entertainment district.
Meals: B, D
Day 15 – SAPPORO – [Wed 5th Feb]
A whole day exploring Sapporo during the largest winter festival in Japan – the world-famous Sapporo Snow Festival! Featuring enormous snow sculptures all along Odori Park, ice sculptures in the Susukino entertainment district, and lots of delicious local festival food on offer.
The afternoon and evening is free for you to explore. Take the opportunity to visit the Okuriyama Ski Jump, used in the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics, and a beautiful vantage point overlooking Sapporo City.
Or try the Sapporo Beer Museum and learn about the history of beer in Japan, followed by a cheap beer tasting! There’s also the cable car to Mount Moiwa, where you can see a beautiful night view of Sapporo, one of the best in Japan.
We meet up later in the evening for our farewell dinner to enjoy a Genghis Khan Barbeque – a delicious lamb barbeque served with lots of vegetables that goes perfectly with beer!
Day 16 – SAPPORO – [Thu 6th Feb]
The end of our tour and after checkout we will assist you with transfers to the airport for your flight home or continue with your travels in Japan.**
** Contact us regarding discount flight options from Sapporo to Tokyo.