Experience the magic of the northern most island of Japan - Hokkaido
This photography tour to beautiful wintery island of Hokkaido offers great opportunities for photographers. Amazing numbers of very approachable birds can be found. It is almost unbelievable how many Steller’s Sea Eagles and White-tailed Eagles you can see at the same time or how close to Whooper Swans you can get!
Birds are the main target of this photography tour but also landscapes inHokkaido, north Japan, are like a fairytale. Imagine Whooper Swans in a misty lake, mountains in morning light or simple Japanese trees in the middle of fields. All this makes Hokkaido a very popular destination amongst photographers.
Experience also Japanese culture with extremely polite people, wonderful food and onsens (Japanese bath). Something you will never forget!
This will be our 11th photography tour to the northernmost island of Japan – Hokkaido.
In 2021, we will have another relaxed-paced tour and stay two nights at each destination. This will allow more relaxing time between towns and a good selection of cruises and evening photography!
Check our Flickr Gallery for more photos!
If you prefer pdf – itinerary you can upload it from here.
This tour will start from Kushiro airport, Hokkaido on 15th of February 2021 at 8 pm.
We will meet you at Kushiro airport and drive approximately 30 minutes to Tsurui. After a Japanese dinner it’s time for a good rest.
Relaxed start with breakfast. We spend the whole day at Red-crowned Crane feeding station. Here it is possible to take low-angle photos of these beautiful Cranes. We continue taking photos until dark. Lunch can be bought from a local shop. In the evening, enjoy a Japanese dinner at the accommodation.
We start with an early pre-breakfast excursion to Otowa Bridge where Red-crowned Cranes can be photographed at their roosting site. The free-flowing river steams in cold weather and trees are covered with thick frost. This is an iconic place for Cranes in river landscape images, especially on clear mornings.
After breakfast we pack our luggage and drive over the mountain to Akan Red-crowned Crane feeding station. Other species possible today will be White-tailed Eagle, Steller´s Sea Eagle, Black Kite and Whooper Swan. There is a small café in Akan Crane Center where it is possible to have lunch. Late afternoon drive from Akan to Nemuro. In the evening Japanese dinner at our hotel.
After breakfast we photograph Eagle feeding session at 9.00 at Lake Furen. In previous winters approximately 100 Steller’s Sea Eagles and White-tailed Eagles have gathered on the ice right next to a restaurant here. There will be good opportunities to photograph flying Eagles and Black Kites from the restaurant’s car park. Birds often pass at a very short distance! There are excellent chances for flight photography and with a long lens one can get some good action shots of fighting Eagles on ice or in the air! With luck a Red Fox might visit the feeding site.
Today there is a chance to have lunch at a Sushi restaurant in Nemuro. This is a recommended Japanese experience!
In the afternoon, weather permitting, we will spend a couple of hours cruising for seabirds offshore of Ochiishi harbor. Possible species to see and photograph are Spectacled Guillemot, Ancient Murrelet, Least and Crested Auklet. Maybe we will encounter some Divers as well as Black Scoters and White-winged Scoters.
After breakfast we pack our luggage and photograph the Eagle feeding session once more at Lake Furen. We then continue our journey to a small village near lake Kussharo.
On the way we will stop in lake Mashu for landscape photography. We will also stop for any other wildlife on the roadsides. Lunch from the roadside shops and dinner at the accommodation.
Lake Kussharo is a great place to photograph Whooper Swans! Swans like to spend the winter here because of the hot springs that keep the water open close to the shores.Optional pre-breakfast Whooper Swan photography session. Back to Swans after breakfast for a couple of hours. Break in the middle of the day at the hotel in order to empty memory cards and charge batteries. Afternoon photography session with Whooper Swans at two different locations at Lake Kussharo until dusk.
It might be possible to photograph Sika Deer, Japanese Wagtail, Dusky Thrush, Thick-billed Crow, Japanese Bulbul and maybe also Falcated Duck and Spot-billed Duck.
Pre-breakfast Whooper Swan photography session.
After breakfast drive to Rausu. Lunch from the roadside shop and dinner at the accommodation.
Today we do two mornign boat trips in a row to photograph Eagles. Breakfast from the shops to eat on the boat. After cruises good rest and time to empty memory cards and charge batteries.
We will spend the evening at Washinado-yado, a Japanese guesthouse which is situated in a valley with a partly unfrozen river running alongside. This is one of the best spots for Blakiston´s Fish Owl. On the side of the river there is a little pool where they put a few live fish every evening for the Owl. Here they use led lighting to give us opportunity to photograph this world´s largest Owl fishing. Depending on the situation, we might use open restaurant windows or an old bus which is converted into a photography hide.
On emore pre-breakfast boat trip to photograph Eagles for 2 to 3 hours. After boat trip we will go back to accommodation for breakfast.
After breakfast we pack our luggage and make our way to Nakashibetsu. At the hotel is a bird feeder with Jays, Tits and Woodpeckers visiting and there are also possibilities for Red Fox, Sable and Red Squirrel. Greater Pied Kingfisher might be seen here.
This is a very nice Japanese spa-hotel with excellent Japanese cuisine and very friendly people working. Try also to find time to enjoy a Japanese hot bath here. Local souvenirs can be bought from this hotel.
In the evening, we will look for the largest Owl in the world – Blakiston’s Fish Owl. There is a feeding place for the Owl here as well and it is possible to take photos through a window with artificial lights. Occasionally the Owl is still around in the next morning light!
Optional pre-breakfast landscape photography excursion to nearby mountain area for the sunrise. Other option is to sleep little longer and start your day with breakfast. Today we will offer excursion to Notsuke peninsula which is a great place to photograph Red Fox and Sika Deer. If you want to take it more relaxed you can also stay whole day at this beautiful Japanese questhouse and photograph birds at the feeder and surrounding areas. Here is a beautiful river valley with old forest along the river. If you are very lucky you might even see a glimpse of Flying Squirrel here.
Photography at the hotel. After breakfast transportation to Kushiro airport. This tour ends in Kushiro airport around midday on 25th of February 2021