We all meet at a hotel near Haneda airport in Tokyo the day before the departure of this tour to make sure that everyone has arrived at Tokyo. The next day, we will catch a flight to Hokkaido in the morning.
In the morning, we will fly from Tokyo to Hokkaido. We will drive through the amazing snow-capped hills of Biei and photograph very beautiful and artistic minimalist landscapes. After sunset, we will photograph an illuminated frozen lake. We will stay in a Ryokan, Japanese style inn, to bathe in outdoor hot spring bath covered with snow and relax in a traditional Japanese room with tatamis.
After breakfast, we will visit a stunning frozen blue waterfall, and return to the hills in Biei to make sure we have good pictures of the beautiful minimal landscapes of Biei. In the afternoon, we will go to an unusual resort hotel complex in a town whose average lowest temperaturei in Februrary is about -19℃ (-0.4°F). We will visit and photograph its “ice village” and indoor “beach” with room temperature of 30℃ (86°F). It is an ideal place to relax, enjoy, and take photos at once. We will spend the night here.
We will photograph a photogenic long icy road with rows of white birch trees. Then we will proceed to a crane center where we will be able to observe and photograph the dance of the Japanese red-crowned cranes in the wildness, one of the greatest attractions of Hokkaido for wild life lovers.
We wake up early to photograph red-crowned cranes in the river covered with the reddish mist just before sunrise. It all depends on the weather condition, but we will try to capture this amazing romantic moments. After this rising sun hour shots, we will visit another spot where all red-crowned cranes fly in. When we are all satisfied with the red-crowned cranes, we will head to a lake known for having the largest number of the population of Ainu people, the native people of Hokkaido. We will have a lunch in one of the Ainu restaurants and will walk around on the frozen lake where people enjoy fishing on ice. Since we woke up and started very early today, we will go to a hotel early and relax. We will stay in a resort hotel with a lake-view outdoor hot springs bath. For those who wish, there is an option to go to see a traditional Ainu dance.
We will move to antoher lake where we will find a large number of whooper swans on the shore where hot springs are coming out. If you want, you will be able to bathe in an outdoor hot spring bath just in front of the shore with the swans! Then, we will visit he most sulfurous mountain in Japan. Columns of smoke rise from the rocky ground despite the snow, and the smell of sulfur permeates everything. It is a surreal and mystical place. Then, we will approach to one of the most beautiful lakes in Japan. And from there we’ll head to one of our favorite ryokans from all over Japan, a hidden gem in Hokkaido. At night, if we are lucky we will be able to photograph the local owls.
Today we will look for wildlife as well as a lonely landscape. If we are lucky, we will see fox, deer, and eagles. If we find enough of them in the morning, we will move to another place, but if we did not find enough of them, we will come back here after lunch.
In the morning we will leave to Shiretoko Peninsula and catch a boat that will take us to the sea filled with drift ice and photograph white-tailed eagles or Steller’s sea eagles on top of the ice and intact landscapes of the Shiretoko Peninsula. After the one-hour cruise, we will move to the other side of the peninsula. On the way, we will take advantage of the beautiful wild landscape to photograph the sunset.
In the morning, we will take a walk in the snow forest. There is a possibility of encountering with deer in the snow forest. After a walk, we will drive to the dead end of the road in the Shiretoko Peninsula, and we leave slowly Shiretoko Peninsula toward Abashiri, photographing the frozen ocean with drift ice here and there. We will also stop to visit a frozen waterfall. On our way to Abashiri, we will stop in a retro local train station where we can see the ocean and have a coffee. For the last night, we will stay in another resort hotel in Abashiri with hot springs bath and Kaiseki dinner.
We will look for drift ice reached to the seashore of the Ojotsk in Abashiri from Russia. Then, we will take a boat that go through drift ice in the ocean to see and photograph it. After the excursion by boat we will eat there and we will go to Abashiri airport to catch a flight back to Tokyo.
During our photo tour to Japan we will combine nights in ryokan with nights in western hotels. Whether they are traditional Japanese inns or western hotels, all of them are mid-high or high class with good reputation or selected by tour leaders from their experiences.
The rooms will be twin room (with two beds), so participants who come alone will share a room with another single participant. If you wish to stay in a single room for the whole trip, you must pay a supplement. But single room might not be available in some of the accommodations, and you have to share a twin room with another participant. (In that case, we will return proportional part of single supplement fees.)
Restaurants are carefully selected to enjoy the varieties of Japanese food from sophisticated kaisei to homemade local food. Not to be forced to eat the same things together, some of the meals are not included. If breakfast or lunch is not included, since we normally go to a restaurant together for breakfast or lunch, you just choose what you would like to eat and you pay for it. If dinner is not included, each person can choose a restaurant to dine. If you don’t want to look for a restaurant, you can also go to a restaurant where the tour leaders go, and you just pay for what you eat.
If anybody has allergy or food intolerance problems, or is a vegetarian, we will try to make the necessary changes in the menus when it is possible.
For the trip to be carried out, there must be at least 6 participants (maximum of 10 participants). For this reason it is recommended to consult the occupancy of the trip before buying the international flight if the flight ticket requires cancellation fees.
It is mandatory to have comprehensive insurance cover for cancellation, medical expenses, personal accident, emergency evacuation, repatriation of remains, dismemberment, and accidental death. You have to give us a copy of travel insurance before the trip.
If the cancellation is made more than 61 days before the start of the tour, deposit will be refunded in full only if the place(s) is/are filled with another/other participant(s). Deposit will not be refunded if the cancellation is made within 60 days before the start of the tour. For more details of cancellation and conditions of refund of the balance due after 60 days, please read our terms & conditions.
The drifting ice and wildlife can not be guaranteed in any case. Drift ice comes and goes each year depending on the currents, the temperature, and many other factors that cause this natural spectacle. Sometimes we find wild animals very easily, but other times it is difficult to find them. It is important to keep it in mind that the organizers will not have any responsibility if there is no drifting ice or wildlife during the specific dates of the tour.
If you have more doubts about any topic related to the photo tour to Japan, send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Documentary photo project on Japan by Toru Morimoto and Tina Bagué
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