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Wild Japan in Winter

Japanese Macaques (Dani Free)

Japanese Macaques (Dani Free)

Travelling in the depths of the Japanese winter, this exciting new 12-day tour aims to showcase Japan’s most incredible wildlife spectacles, from huge flocks of striking Steller’s Sea Eagles, to elegant dancing Japanese Cranes and Japanese Macaques bathing in hot water springs. Although not a dedicated photographic holiday, we will endeavour to see these key species at close quarters, affording some fantastic photographic opportunities, the likes of which you will not find anywhere else in the world!  
 
It is impossible to visit Japan without immersing oneself in its unique culture and traditions, and throughout our time in Japan, we will have the opportunity to
Steller's Sea Eagle (Dani Free)

Steller's Sea Eagle (Dani Free)

experience many of these first hand: staying in traditional Japanese-style inns (ryokans), bathing in the natural hot water springs (onsens) and sampling the incredible cuisine on offer.
 
Arriving in Tokyo, we transfer quickly by rail to a comfortable city hotel offering fabulous views of this bustling city and, with a little luck, the unmistakeable snow-capped volcanic form of Mount Fuji on the western horizon. The following morning we fly a short distance north, to Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. Here, amongst the snow-covered fields and icy rivers, we will search for the beautiful Japanese Crane, immersing ourselves in their graceful courtship displays
Japanese Cranes (Dani Free)

Japanese Cranes (Dani Free)

and surrounded by the sound of their trumpeting cries, which resonate through the frosty morning air.
 
Drawing ourselves away from the cranes we will slowly make our way along the rocky headlands to the east, stopping frequently to scan the unfrozen bays and harbours for flocks of seabirds that may include Spectacled and Brünnich’s Guillemots, Ancient Murrelet, Least Auklet, Pelagic Cormorant, Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck and Glaucous-winged Gull. Our destination is the fishing port of Rausu on the edge of Shiretoko National Park, home to the highest concentration of Steller’s Sea Eagles in the world. Drawn by the rich waters of the Okhotsk Sea, the mighty Steller’s Sea
Whooper Swans (Dani Free)

Whooper Swans (Dani Free)

Eagle, the largest eagle species in the world, gathers in huge numbers, providing a wonderful natural spectacle.
 
The woodlands of this frozen landscape also harbour interesting wildlife, and in the evening we will wrap up warmly and head out in search of another avian heavy weight, the magnificent Blakiston’s Fish Owl, a specialist hunter of aquatic habitats and one of the world’s largest and rarest owl species.
 
Returning to Tokyo, we next travel by bullet train to Nagano Prefecture, where we have the opportunity to visit Hell Valley and observe Japanese Macaques, or ‘Snow Monkeys’, bathing in their favourite hot springs.
Japanese Cranes (Dani Free)

Japanese Cranes (Dani Free)

Only a short walk from our hotel in Nagano, we will also visit the magnificent Zenkoji Temple, one of Japan’s largest and most important Buddhist temples and home to the first Buddhist statue ever to be brought into Japan, back in the 6th century.
 
We return to Tokyo for a final night in the capital before flying to London the following morning. Our minds filled with memories of dancing cranes, bathing macaques, delicious food and hospitable inhabitants, the ‘land of the rising sun’ is sure to have left its mark.
 
For those wishing to extend their time in Japan, there is the opportunity to fly south to the island of Kyushu, home to one of the most spectacular gatherings of cranes in the world. Attracted by the mild climate, more than 10,000 Hooded Cranes are joined at this time of year by White-naped Cranes as well as Common and Sandhill Cranes, while the island’s coastal wetlands attract Black-faced Spoonbill, Saunders’ Gull, Brown-eared Bulbul and White-cheeked Starling.



Tour details:

Wild Japan in Winter

A 12-day holiday to Japan in search of wintering Steller’s Sea Eagles, flocks of ‘dancing’ Japanese Cranes, fish-catching Blakiston’s Fish Owls and bathing Japanese Macaques. View tour gallery.
 
Dates: Wed 31st Jan – Sun 11th Feb & Wed 21st Feb – Sun 4th Mar 2018

Cost: £5,495pp
Single room supplement: £795  

Contact: For further details about this holiday please call Dan Free on 01962 733051 or email dan@naturetrek.co.uk