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©Wolfgang Kaehler

2016 Wildlife of Japan Photo Tour

January 23 to February 9, 2016

Japan in winter is a fantastic experience for the traveler, nature lover and for photographers.  On my tour you will not only see amazing wildlife, you also will be exposed to the culture of Japan.  The last trip we were very lucky and had a snow fall one afternoon in Kyoto which was a special experience.   I hope this will happen again.  Come and join me for the 2016 Wildlife of Japan Photo Tour!

 

We fly from Tokyo to Kushiro on the northern island of Hokkaido, and drive the 30 miles to Tsurui Village. Hokkaido, Japan’s main northern island, lies near the same latitude as Toronto or Boston, and is far less populated than the country’s southern islands. Like much of the Pacific Rim, Hokkaido’s geology and landscape is heavily influenced by volcanism and the island has innumerable beautiful parks. While these scenic natural areas will provide ample subject matter for our lenses, our main targets here are the Japanese cranes and the Steller’s sea eagles that winter on the island.

 

We travel to the village of Kawayu Onsen (onsen = hot springs), a farming village.  We’ll seek out some locations to photograph whooper swans. This beautifully rugged region with its mountainous lakes, Akan and Kussharo, makes for a wonderful backdrop for these magnificent birds.

 

At the Notuke Peninsula we will see and photograph seascapes and sea eagles along the fast ice on the shore. For the afternoon I try to offer an optional boat ride at Rausu which will take us out to the ryuhyu, ice from Siberia, which is stranded along the shore, where we should find good concentrations of the rare Steller’s sea eagle, white-tailed sea eagle and other specialties.

 

We will visit Abashiri Shiretoko National Park, which can offer some excellent observations and photos of deer as well as dramatic landscapes and snowscapes. After lunch it’s off to Abashiri, stopping along the way to photograph a waterfowl refuge where we can expect more whooper swans and other migratory waterfowl.

 

At Jigokudani you have the extraordinary opportunity to watch and photograph the Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys. Kambayashi Onsen, your accommodations for the next two nights, features an attractive and artistic interior and a delightful garden. With its own onsen (natural thermal spring) you are able to emulate generations of Japanese people (and the monkeys) and enjoy a relaxing and therapeutic soak in the mineral waters.

 

The city of Kyoto is known for its abundance of traditional Japanese architecture: ancient Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and gardens. We’ll spend the next two days intensively photographing these wonderful subjects. These shrines date back to 743 and before, and were spared bombing during World War II. The city is also famous for its fine handicrafts such as silk brocades, bronzes, damascene work, porcelain and lacquerware. We’ll take time to do some shopping in this area.

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TOUR CLOSED. Please email us at photos@wkaehlerphoto.com for information about future editions of this tour.

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Trip Details

Day 1, Saturday January 23

Depart the USA on your independent flight, arriving in Tokyo Narita on Wednesday January 24th.  After clearing immigration & customs, welcome by our English speaking guide, and transfer to Tokyo for hotel check in.                                NO Dinner included. (Please have a dinner on own.)                                                                                                        Accommodation: HANEDA EXCEL HOTEL TOKYU or similar

Day 2, Monday, January 25 (B,L,D)

We fly from Tokyo to Kushiro on the northern island of Hokkaido, and drive the 30 miles to Tsurui Village. Hokkaido, Japan’s main northern island, lies near the same latitude as Toronto or Boston, and is far less populated than the country’s southern islands. Like much of the Pacific Rim, Hokkaido’s geology and landscape is heavily influenced by volcanism and the island has innumerable beautiful parks. While these scenic natural areas will provide ample subject matter for our lenses, our main targets here are the Japanese cranes and the Steller’s sea eagles that winter on the island.
O/N: Taito Hotel, Tsurui Village

Days 3 to 5 – Tuesday, January 26 to Thursday January 28 (B,L,D)

Photographing Japanese cranes.
The next days will be spent photographing the white red-crested crane, also known as the Japanese crane, around the area. We also will see other species, such as white-tailed sea eagles.
O/N: Taito Hotel

Day 6, Friday January 29 TSURUI VILLAGE – LAKE AKAN – LAKE KUSSHARO – KAWAYU ONSEN (B,L,D)

We travel to the village of Kawayu Onsen (onsen = hot springs), a farming village. We’ll seek out some locations to photograph whooper swans. This beautifully rugged region with its mountainous lakes, Akan and Kussharo, makes for a wonderful backdrop for these magnificent birds.
O/N: Grand Hotel Alex Kawayu, Kawayu or similar

Day 7, Saturday January 30 KAWAYU ONSEN – LAKE KUSSHARO – ODAITO (B,L,D)

This morning will be spent in the swan area along the lake, then make our way to Odaito. We will photograph and view the dramatic landscape: high volcanic mountains, still steaming from their tops, and ice-covered lakes.
O/N ODAITO ONSEN SEASIDE HOTEL or similar

Day 8, Sunday January 31 ODAITO – NOTSUKE PENINSULA – RAUSU (B,L,D)

Our morning will be spent along the Notuke Peninsula photographing seascapes and sea eagles along the fast ice on the shore. For the afternoon I try to offer an optional boat ride at Rausu which will take us out to the ryuhyu, ice from Siberia, which is stranded along the shore, where we should find good concentrations of the rare Steller’s sea eagle, white-tailed sea eagle and other specialties.
O/N: HOTEL MINE NO YU or similar

Day 9, Monday Feb.1 RAUSU – UTORO (B,L,D)

We’ll take a boat ride to the floe edge this morning to maximize our chances of getting good shots of the eagles. After lunch at a local restaurant or a lunch box, we’ll drive the scenic route to the other side of the Shiretoko Peninsula.
O/N: Shiretoko Grand Hotel Kitakobushi

Day 10, Tuesday Feb.2  UTORO – ABASHIRI (B,L,D)

We will visit Abashiri Shiretoko National Park, which can offer some excellent photos of deer as well as dramatic landscapes and snowscapes. After lunch it’s off to Abashiri, stopping along the way to photograph a waterfowl refuge where we can expect more whooper swans and other migratory waterfowl.
O/N: Abashirikoso Hotel

Day 11, Wednesday Feb.3  ABASHIRI – MEMANBETSU – TOKYO (B,L)

In the morning we will photograph the stunning landscapes at Abashiri, and time permitting, we will do more shooting at the wildlife refuge, before transferring to the airport for our flight to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. O/N: HOTEL VILLA FONTAINE SHIODOME or similar

Days 12-13, Thursday + Friday Feb. 4-5 TOKYO – NAGANO – JIGOKUDANI (B,L,D)

This morning we’ll take the Japan Railway bullet train to Nagano, transfer to our motorcoach for the trip to the little remote ryokan (traditional Japanese-styled inn) at the Jigokudani hot springs. You need to walk from Kambayashi Onsen to Jigokudani Onsen (Usually, it takes about 30 min. But, depends on weather conditions, it takes more.)

At Jigokudani you have the extraordinary opportunity to watch and photograph the Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys. Kambayashi Onsen, your accommodations for the next two nights, features an attractive and artistic interior and a delightful garden. With its own onsen (natural thermal spring) you are able to emulate generations of Japanese people (and the monkeys) and enjoy a relaxing and therapeutic soak in the mineral waters.
O/N: Korakukan Traditional Ryokan

Day 14, Saturday Feb. 6 JIGOKUDANI – NAGANO – NAGOYA – KYOTO (B,L)

After a short morning with the snow monkeys and a great Japanese lunch, we board trains, including the bullet train for Kyoto, Japan’s most traditional city.

Kyoto is known for its abundance of traditional Japanese architecture: ancient Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and gardens. We’ll spend the next two days intensively photographing these wonderful subjects. These shrines date back to 743 and before, and were spared bombing during World War II.

The city is also famous for its fine handicrafts such as silk brocades, bronzes, damascene work, porcelain and laquerware. We’ll take time to do some shopping in this area.
O/N: Kyoto New Miyako Hotel

Days 15-16, Sunday/Monday Feb. 7-8 KYOTO (B,L)

Two full days to visit the temples, gardens and historic sites in Kyoto.

Day 17, Tuesday Feb.9 KYOTO – KANSAI INT’L AIRPORT / DEPARTURE (B)

Breakfast at the hotel
Check-out the hotel.
Departure transfer to Kansai Airport (Osaka) for the flights home

The economy airfare on Delta is about $1,400.00 for the roundtrip from Seattle to Narita (NRT), Osaka (KIX) to Seattle. Please check for rates from your home town.