AJT Logo

All Japan Tours       337 N.Vineyard Ave Suite 215, Ontario, CA 91764
Toll Free: 1-855-325-2726 (US/CANADA) Tel: 1-909-988-8885
Fax: 1-909-349-1736 E-mail: info@alljapantours.com

Japan Winter Heartfelt Birding Tour 2022 - 2/2

Venture on a journey of constant wonder and discovery as you explore the innumerable birds that winter on the coast, forests, and fields of Japan with a knowledgeable birding specialist.

Tour Code: GTQ2997546

Tour Information

Land cost: from USD $7998.00

Single supplement: USD $1080.00

Tour duration: 14 days 13 nights

Destination:
Sapporo / Tsurui Village / Lake Kussharo / Shibetsu / Rausu / Shiretoko / Notsuke Peninsula / Lake Furen / Nemuro / Cape Kiritappu / Kushiro / Izumi / Takaharu / Kyoto / Lake Biwa / Kaga / Nagano / Karuizawa / Tokyo

Tour cost includes:
• 8 nights Western style and 5 nights Japanese style accommodation
• Meet and greet upon arrival at Sapporo New Chitose Airport
• Domestic flight from Sapporo to Kushiro, Kushiro to Tokyo, Tokyo to Kagoshima, then Miyazaki to Osaka
• Bullet train from Kanazawa to Nagano, Nagano to Karuizawa, then Karuizawa to Tokyo
• Airport transfers on arrival and departure
• Private coach transfers between destinations in Japan
• Luggage forwarding from Kyoto to Tokyo
• Comprehensive escorted with AJT professional English speaking birding guide
• Gratuities
Meals
• Breakfast everyday
• 5 dinners
Admission fees and activities
• All entry fees to sites, activities listed in the itinerary

Dates & Price
2022
Start Date End Date Twin/Triple Start City End City Style Status
Wed. Feb 2, 2022 Tue. Feb 15, 2022 USD $7998.00 Sapporo Tokyo View Tour

Please Note:
All prices are per person, based on twin (double on request) or triple occupancy.
International flights are not included on our tours - this allows you the flexibility to choose your own departure and get the best value for your money!
We can arrange international flights for US customers if needed, please ask for details.

Itinerary

Day 1

Sapporo New Chitose Airport

Welcome to Sapporo! You will be met at the arrival gate by an AJT representative holding an "All Japan Tours" sign.

ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Chitose or similar class

NOTE 1: The meet and greet and airport transfer to the first hotel is ONLY available on the first day of the tour after 11 AM. If you plan to stay extra nights before the start of the tour, we will provide full instructions in advance for you to transfer to your hotel on your own.

Day 2

Sapporo (Maruyama Park), Sapporo (Sapporo Snow Festival)

After breakfast, travel with your guide - a birding expert - to Maruyama Park, where your first winter birding opportunity awaits. Maruyama Park is one of Sapporo's prime parks for cherry blossom viewing in spring, but late winter offers visitors a pleasant retreat under branches draped in winter's finest. This park offers just a small taste of Hokkaido's wide variety of winter birds, such as woodpeckers (Pygmy, White-backed, Great Spotted, Grey-faced), Eurasian Jay (Brandt's), crows (Carrion, Large-billed), tits (Japanese, Coal, Varied, Marsh), Brown- eared Bulbul, Goldcrest (japonensis), Asian Wood Nuthatch, Eurasian Tree-Creeper (daurica), Dusky Thrush, Brambling, Long-tailed Rosefinch, and Hawfinch (japonicus). Other rarer birds may be also be observed in Sapporo's quiet contemplation spot.
Later that morning, move on to the central thoroughfare of the city for a wintry Hokkaido must-see: the Sapporo Snow Festival. Browse through Odori Park to see the enormous, finely-detailed snow constructions of full-sized buildings and larger-than-life displays. Head from there to your hotel.

Breakfast

ANA Hotel Sapporo or similar class

Day 3

Sapporo (Sapporo Snow Festival), Flight to Kushiro

Enjoy another day appreciating more of the wondrously imaginative creations at the Sapporo Snow Festival. These glassy, smooth snow sculptures change every year, but past show artworks have included anime scenes, Disney characters, and famous buildings like Himeji Castle and the Taj Mahal.
In the afternoon, transfer to Okadama Airport for your domestic flight to Kushiro.
Upon arrival at the airport in Kushiro, transfer to your hotel.

Breakfast

ANA Crowne Plaza Kushiro or similar class

Day 4

Tsurui Village (Otowa Bridge / Tsurui Ito Tancho Crane Sanctuary), Lake Kussharo

Enjoy a take-out breakfast on your way to Tsurui Village for a chance to observe one of Japan's rarest birds - the tancho, or Red-Crowned Crane, staying in a river surrounded by a fantastic mist illuminated by the dawning sun. In the quiet morning, you can witness pairs of cranes in courtship dancing on the snow. These highly social and dainty birds are easily recognizable from their depiction in Japanese culture. As a symbol of luck and longevity, this native Japanese crane appears in everything from kimono patterns to native folklore. The Tsurui Village is an important center of crane conservation, having increased the local crane population to over a thousand of these iconic birds roosting for winter in Kushiro. After, venture to Lake Kussharo, largest of the three volcanic caldera lakes at Akan Mashu National Park, and a winter home of the downy white Whooper Swan. In winter, as the lake freezes over, you'll find these pearly white birds waddling atop the icy surface or floating amidst the crystal floes. But keep a careful eye on the surface of the lake, and you might catch a glimpse of "Kusshi" - the mythical Kussharo lake monster!
After observing the birds near the lake, enjoy dinner at your ryokan.

Breakfast / Dinner

Yunokaku Ikedaya or similar class

Day 5

Shibetsu (Shibetsu Port), Rausu (Rausu Port / Washi-no- yado)

After breakfast, travel to the Shiretoko Coast, the kingdom of Japan's wondrous collection of water fowl. The name Shiretoko comes from the Ainu words meaning "the end of the Earth", and juts up into the Sea of Okhotsk. From Shibetsu Port near the peninsula's base up to Washi-no- Yado near the port of Rausu, you'll have the opportunity to observe many of the local sea birds and forest birds, such as; ducks (Falcated, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Tufted, Greater Scaup, Harlequin (Pacific), White-winged Scoter (Siberian), Black Scoter, Long-tailed, Common Goldeneye), mergansers (Smew, Common, Red-breasted), loons (Red-throated, Arctic (Green-throated), Pacific), Red-necked Grebe (Holboll's), cormorants (Japanese, Pelagic), White-tailed Eagle, Steller's Sea-Eagle, gulls (Black-tailed, Mew (Kamchatka), Glaucous-winged, Glaucous (pallidissimus), Vega, Slaty- backed, Black-headed (Siberian)), murres (Thick-billed (arra), Common (North Pacific)), Spectacled Guillemot, Ancient Murrelet, auklets (Least, Crested), crows (Carrion (South Asian), Large-billed (Japanese), Common Raven (kamtschaticus)), Brown Dipper, Eurasian Siskin, Common Redpoll (flammea), Asian Rosy-Finch (brunneonucha), Eurasian Bullfinch (Grey-bellied), Eurasian Bullfinch (rosacea).
Yet the undisputed reigning kings of Eastern Hokkaido's avian kingdom are undoubtedly the sea eagles (White- tailed Eagle, Steller's Sea Eagle), who can be observed hunting and fishing their prey along the shore. Among the largest eagles in the world, these majestic birds of prey soar up and down the Shiretoko Peninsula. You may also see the rare Blackiston's Fish Owl at Washi-no-yado. This owl is the largest in the world, and is known for it's deep and resonant call. It was also once revered as a village deity by the indigenous Ainu people.

Breakfast / Dinner

Rausu Daiichi Hotel or similar class

Day 6

Shiretoko (Shiretoko Nature Cruise), Notsuke Peninsula, Shunkunitai (Lake Furen)

Enjoy a second day exploring the UNESCO World Heritage Shiretoko Coast, this time on a delightful nature cruise! Your cruise boat will take you Your cruise boat will take you near the drift ice, where you can enjoy the sight of seabirds flying or standing on the drift ice.
Head from there to the Notsuke Peninsula, part of the Notsuke-Furen National Park. The Notsuke peninsula is a thin, curling strip of land that used to be a forest, but is now in decline. Yet a number of birds can still be observed wintering in the grasslands, including Asian Rosy-finch, Dusky Thrush, and Snow Bunting. Once finished, it's off to Lake Furen, a brackish lake region that is connected to Nemuro Bay. This lake features many sea-eagles and Whooper Swans, but with patience and a careful eye one might see a bounty of woodland birds, such as Japanese and Bohemian Waxwings, Japanese Tit, Goldcrest, and Brown-eared Bulbul.

Breakfast / Dinner

Hotel Nemuro Kaiyo-tei or similar class

Day 7

Nemuro (Ochiishi Nature Cruise), Cape Kiritappu, Kushiro (Kushiro Port), Flight to Tokyo

After breakfast, take a morning cruise from Ochiishi out of Ochiishi Bay, sailing up around Yururi Island. This ocean region is a popular wintering locale for a number of native birds. Watch for local seafowl including the Spectacled Guillemot, Pigeon Guillemot, Ancient Murrelet, Crested and Least Auklets, Red-faced Cormorant, Glaucous Gulls, and Harlequin and Long-tailed Ducks. After your return to the port, your tour will venture further south to explore Cape Kiritappu. Kiritappu is a rugged earthen finger pointing out to the sea with a European- style red and white lighthouse at the tip. The cape presents one last opportunity for sighting Hokkaido's sea- birds, but while there, you may also glimpse an Asian Rosy-finch, Eurasian Siskin, or even sight a Goldcrest (japonensis).
From Kushiro Port, transfer to Kushiro Airport for your domestic flight to Tokyo. Once in Tokyo, check into your hotel.

Breakfast

Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu or similar class

Day 8

Flight to Kagoshima, Izumi (Arasaki)

Today, transfer to Haneda Airport for a domestic flight to Kagoshima - Japan's southernmost prefecture on the Kyushu island.
On Kagoshima's northern edge is the city of Izumi, containing the Arasaki Crane Conservation Area. The paddy fields of this region offer a sheltered ground for a grand assembly of cranes come to roost during the winter season, with thousands of White-naped Cranes and Hooded Cranes. A closer examination will likely note a few pockets of Sandhill Cranes and Common Cranes hidden among the flocks. This exquisite crane collection shares their habitat with a great abundance of other birds, including cormorants, herons, woodpeckers, tits, sandpipers, plovers, and buntings.

Breakfast

Wing International Izumi Hotel or similar class

Day 9

Izumi (Arasaki / Kogawa Dam)

After breakfast, you'll have a second opportunity to explore the Arasaki area. If you get tired of looking at cranes, a more careful examination will may offer some smaller East Asian birds for your viewing pleasure, including the Japanese Bush Warbler, Black-faced Spoonbill, Ryukyus Minivet, Oriental Turtledove, and Asian House-martin, among others. Next, take a drive to Kogawa Dam - a forested drainage basin to the southeast of Izumi. Here you have the chance to spot the Crested Kingfisher and Japanese Green Woodpecker, flitting to and fro near a few kinds of local waterfowl, including Mandarin Ducks.

Breakfast / Dinner

Meguminoyu Kannogo Onsen or similar class

Day 10

Takaharu (Miike Wild Bird Forest), Flight to Osaka, Kyoto (Kyoto Imperial Palace Park)

This morning, you'll enjoy a drive into Miyazaki prefecture, making a stop at Lake Miike, outside the town of Takaharu. Spend some time browsing around Lake Miike and the Miike Wild Bird Forest, housing over a hundred bird species per year. Many kinds of waterfowls and forest birds can be seen wintering around the lakeside area. The area around the lake is densely overgrown with trees, where many native birds peep out from the branches mid- February, including the Japanese bush warbler, Dusky Thrush, Pale Thrush, Japanese Wagtail, Olive-backed Pipit, and Japanese Grosbeak.
After you finish enjoying the Wild Bird Forest, transfer to Miyazaki Airport for your domestic flight to Osaka. Then you can take the bus into Kyoto for a tour of Kyoto Imperial Palace Park. This beautiful garden was once the private retreat of the Imperial family. When it opened to the public, it became the Central Park of Kyoto. When the weather is still crisp and cool, you may see Japanese Grosbeaks, Daurian Redstart, Japanese Wagtail, and Hawfinches in the Japanese Garden.

Breakfast

Kyoto Brighton Hotel or similar class

Day 11

Lake Biwa (Kohoku Wild birds Center), Kaga (Katano Waterfowl Sanctuary), Bullet Train to Nagano

This morning the tour takes you to the shores of Lake Biwa, to the northeast of Kyoto. Lake Biwa is the largest freshwater lake in Japan, and fills almost the whole of Shiga Prefecture. At the Kohoku Wild-Bird Center, you can see why Lake Biwa has also been called Little Grebe Lake. With a little luck and a discerning eye, myriad wild water-birds, including ducks, geese, swans, and a few kinds of grebe (such as Little, Horned, Eared, and Great Crested) may be seen floating, nearly hidden, above beds of leaves.
Next, the tour heads to Kaga, to the Katano Waterfowl Sanctuary. Also known as the Katano Kamoike or "Wild Duck Pond", the flooded wetland region is the proud home of the Taiga Bean Goose and Tundra Bean Goose, floating together with other swimming birds. Keep a sharp eye out for the Baikal Teal, the symbol of the Waterfowl Sanctuary. At the right time of year one may witness the regional hunting technique called Saka-ami, where the hunters throw up large V-shaped nets into the air to catch the abundant wild Mallard. It is considered more environmentally safe than hunting with shotgun or rifle, and blends physical prowess and dexterity into a form that is also a kind of art. The hunting period and catch quotas are strictly regulated to preserve an ecological balance.
Head from there to Kanazawa station, where you'll take the bullet train to the city of Nagano, capital of Nagano prefecture, and check in to your hotel.

Breakfast

Hotel Metropolitan Nagano or similar class

Day 12

Nagano (Snow Monkey Park), Bullet Train to Karuizawa

After breakfast, drive out from Nagano to the popular Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park. Jigokudani is also known as "Hell's Valley", taking it's name from the hot springs and volcanic pools bubbling in small pockets out of the frozen ground. You can observe entire troops of Japanese macaques bathing in the steamy pools, relaxing in families and larger social groups - almost like clubs. Contrary to most people's image of monkeys at play, these snow monkeys are some of the most hygienic animals around. They spend hours bathing in the hot spring bath, then they comb through each others' fur until each snow monkey is fluffy and clean!
Later that day, return to Nagano and take the bullet train from Nagano Station to the resort town of Karuizawa. On arrival, check in to your hotel.

Breakfast / Dinner

Shiotsubo Onsen Hotel or similar class

Day 13

Karuizawa (Yacho no Mori Wild Bird Sanctuary), Saku (Touden-chousei-ike pond), Bullet Train to Tokyo

Karuizawa is a resort town in Nagano Prefecture. Just outside the town is about 100 hectares of forest containing the Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary. With a choice of walking paths branching out from the visitor's center, you can wander through the peaceful forest and try to spot all species of birds that call the sanctuary home. These include the Japanese Woodpecker, Copper Pheasant, and Japanese Accentor, among others.
After, take a short drive to the city of Saku, and the Saku Reservoir Pond. Gadwall, Falcated Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, Spot-billed Duck, Mallard, and Smew may be swimming around inside, with Eastern Buzzard, Black Kite, Bull-headed Shrike, and others perched in the trees along the shore. After appreciating the local bird-life, return to Karuizawa and take the bullet train into Tokyo, where you can relax during your last evening in Japan.

Breakfast

Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Marunouchi or similar class

Day 14

Tour Ends

After breakfast, your tour officially ends. Checkout time is 11:00 AM, free for leisure until transfer to Narita Airport or Haneda Airport by airport shared shuttle.

Breakfast

NOTE 2: If you would like to stay longer in Japan, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.