In Hokkaido you can enjoy the magnificence of nature to your heart’s content; world natural heritage site – Shiretoko Peninsula; Kushiro wetland, home to many precious living things such as Japanese cranes etc. Winter is good season to do photography though it is very tough to travel around. We have experienced this kind of tour about 10 years and know where to go and what to do. Some awesome photos by courtesy of Mr. Daryl Yeo, Singapore.
DAY 1 Kushiro AP – Nemuro
Touch down at Kushiro airport situated in Kushiro wetland and start the tour.
Better to do shopping in downtown Kushiro before enter the country.
Heading to Nemuro is about 2.5 Hrs drive today.
Shooting cranes in Nakachanbetsu, Shibecha.
It is an idea to have a lunch stop at Akkeshi, hometown of fresh oyster.
You may see many wild sika deer on the way.
Stay in Nemuro
Lake Furen is better than downtown Nemuro because you can take photos in the morning leaving luggage in the accommodation.
DAY 2 Nemuro – Rausu
Morning targets will be black kites, white-taled eagles and stellar’s sea eagles on the frozen lake Furen. Feeding time by local fishermen is around 9 am so that you should set up before 8:30 am.
Leaving for Notsuke peninsula. It is about 1.5 Hrs. Lunch should be Shibetsu town, gateway of the peninsula.
Flower garden in this prawn-shaped peninsula turn into huge snow field in winter and so many sika deer can be seen in the late afternoon glow. You may see red fox if you are lucky.
Stay in Rausu
Largest town on the eastern coast of the Shiretoko Peninsula.
DAY 3 Rausu – Kawayu
Highlight of the tour, eagle boat riding, in the morning. Departure will be 5:00 or 5:30 am, it depends on ice condition. Yes, ride out to the sea, capturing sun rise, gulls and eagles on the drift ice.
After Rausu, more than 2 hours drive takes you to next destination Kawayu. On the way there are some tourist spots in Akan-Mashu national park such as clear water lake Mashu and sulfur mountain Mt. Io(Iouzan) etc.
Having a lunch in Teshikaga town, and proceed to lake Kussharo for whooper swans in late afternoon light.
Stay in Kawayu
Tonight stay in Kawayu near lake Kussharo. Good onsen stay night.
DAY 4 Kawayu – Tsurui
Early morning do photograph swans flying into lake Kussharo against the picturesque backdrop.
After breakfast and check out in late morning, just 1 hour drive to Tsurui.
Photography beautiful red-crowned cranes in Tusui village. Some famous shooting spots here, such as Tsurumidai, Ito tancho sanctuary etc. And do location hunting the iconic point – Otowa bridge where you come and take photos very early morning on the final day. Try to capture cranes in flight against the evening light.
Stay in Tsurui
Need to get up very early to set up at Otowa bridge so it is better to stay this small village and go to bed a bit earlier.
DAY 5 Tsurui – Kushiro AP
Many want to see and do photograph sunrise with red-crowned cranes at famous Otowa bridge, so that it is better to set up at least 5 am in the morning if you are keen to get a good location.
After breakfast and check out, you may have a chance to visit Akan crane center for final round of the red-crowned cranes before reaching Kushiro airport. About an hour drive from Tsurui and 30 min. away from Kushiro airport. Try to find owls though it is really hard to see.