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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Land cost: from USD $7998.00
Single supplement: USD $1080.00
Tour duration: 14 days 13 nights
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
• Breakfast everyday
• 5 dinners
Admission fees and activities
• All entry fees to sites, activities listed in the itinerary
|Start Date||End Date||Twin/Triple||Start City||End City||Style||Status|
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.
Welcome to Sapporo! You will be met at the arrival gate by an AJT representative holding an "All Japan Tours" sign.
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.
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.
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.
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
After observing the birds near the lake, enjoy dinner at your ryokan.
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
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.
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.
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
From Kushiro Port, transfer to Kushiro Airport for your domestic flight to Tokyo. Once in Tokyo, check into your hotel.
Today, transfer to Haneda Airport for a domestic flight to
Kagoshima - Japan's southernmost prefecture on the
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
NOTE 2: If you would like to stay longer in Japan, please contact us to book hotel accommodations.