February 14 - 22, 2019 Hokkaido Birding Wildlife Landscape - Photography Tour Japan

Hokkaido is a beautiful, breathtaking place to visit especially when the snow falls it becomes the ultimate paradise for birding wildlife, and winter landscapes photography. Since 1998 Blain has been leading photography adventures throughout Japan. In the winters of, 2015, 2016, and 2017 Blain photographed a herd of over 500 Sika Deer. This is a rare event, timing and weather are everything to capture this moment; we wish for you also to be honored to view such a spectacular site.

Herd Of Sika Deer Hokkaido, Japan

Day 1, Arrival and meet Tokyo Haneda Airport, (HND) at noon. After meeting, we will transfer to the domestic terminal for our late afternoon flight to Kushiro Hokkaido. After landing, we check into our lodgings and celebrate with a toast and Japanese cuisine.

Day 2, 3, After breakfast, we drive to the Kushiro wetlands to photograph the Red-Crowned Crane designated as a special national treasure and protected species. The red-crowned cranes are often described as snow ballerinas, as they perform their graceful courtship dance, they bow to one another then raise their heads towards the sky and call in unison as they begin to dance. The pair or the entire flock will leap into the air at the same time commencing in the courtship dance. Day 3, before dawn we will arrive at Otowabashi bride over the Sesurigawa river where the cranes roost. Golden hour is spectacular for filming the birds roosting in a river of foggy mist. Just as the first rays of light streak through the trees and hit the river its a breathtaking show, the cranes awake and some dance, the night's glazed frost on the trees melts, then the magnificent Red-Crowned crane takes flight.

Red-Crowned Cranes In Fight Hokkaido, Japan

Single Red-Crowned Crane In Flight Hokkaido, Japan 

Red-Crowned Cranes Mate For Life, Courtship Dance

Day 4, 5, 6, These 3 days we will spend in the Grandeur of nature in the North-East of Hokkaido. We have chosen our lodgings for three nights as always between Lake Furenko and Rausu; this is the perfect location for birding, wildlife, and landscape photography. The region is home to the largest herds of Sika Deer on our planet; we will also photograph the red-tailed fox, white-tailed eagle, black kite, golden eagle plus many other species. We will drive into Rausu in the early AM and board a chartered vessel navigating through pack ice to photograph the Steller’s Sea-eagles in their natural habitat. The Steller’s Sea Eagle is the largest and most powerful bird of prey also designated a national treasure of Japan. We will have hundreds of great shots of them clutching fish in their talons, feasting on fish and in flight. We won’t be spending much time in our hotels as they do in Rasusu, and other groups due to us being mobile in SUVs with our experienced staff drivers. From the golden hours, we will be out exploring as adventure photographers shall! 

Herd Of Sika Deer On the move fast Hokkaido, Japan

White-Tail Eagle Hokkaido, Japan

Red-Tail Fox Hokkaido, Japan

Day 7, 8, From the coastline after breakfast and checkout we venture the highland alpine route with its breathtaking snow-capped mountains and alpine lakes. Lake Kushiro we will find over 300 whooper swans who return every winter. During winter the lake freezes over but along its sandy beach geothermal hot springs prevent any ice from forming, this is where we will photograph the magnificently beautiful pure white giant swans. We should be able to view and get some decent shots of the mystical Lake Mashuko. The lake has been called the clearest on our planet. Akanko Ainu Kotan village is where we will lodge for two nights, Hokkaido is home to the First Nations People of Japan the Ainu. We will experience the spiritual celebration of the lomante fire festival at the Ainu Theater Ikor. ‘Ikor’ means 'Treasure' in the Ainu language. Imagine flames of torches burning all around, the air filled with mysterious sounds of the 'Mukkuri' as the Ainu perform their ancient spiritual, religious ceremonies. The Ainu dance has been designated as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage. During the performance, we may take photographs but no flash.
Blain was a local resident in Hokkaido for several years, so he knows the area well and the best times and spots to photograph.

Whooper Swans In Flight, Hokkaido, Japan

Snow & Trees Hokkaido, Japan 


Ainu Art Hokkaido, Japan

Day 9,  Golden hour landscape photography and wildlife photo opportunities.   Around lunch time we will pack it up and head to the airport for our flight to Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND). Thank you, and we look forward to the next adventure together.

Why Choose this Photography Tour/Workshop?
•Photographers of all levels are welcome.
•All Camera formats are welcome, digital, handy camera, scoping with iPhone large format, film, etc.
•Photograph the Steller's Sea Eagle, Red-Crowned Crane and Sika Deer up close and personal.
•Film the largest herd of Sika Deer on our planet.
•Transportation Private Sports Utility Vehicles with Business Class Seating.
•Activity level leisurely - moderate.
•Small group size equals quality time with participants questions are always welcome and encouraged.
•Each evening and morning we discuss our best shooting options with our weather conditions so that you will be well prepared.
•2018 will be Blain's 21st year leading photo adventures in Japan.

Tour Cost: $8500 Includes all lodgings based on double room occupancy, domestic flights in as described in the itinerary, all breakfasts lunches and dinners, all ground transportation sports utility vehicles with business class seating, all entrance fees, all donations at Buddhist- Shinto temples and shrines, photography guide instruction, receive a more detailed itinerary after sign up with clothing and gear recommendations.

Single Supplement: $1000

Not Included: Flight to and from Japan, travel health insurance, alcohol beverages, hotel amenities and items of a personal nature

Workshop/Tour Policies

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