Red-crowned cranes | Tsurui | Japan
FROM: R187,935 pp

WINTER TOUR: From Tokyo, head to Japan's northern-most main island of Hokkaido to uncover the best of the region during the snowy winter months. Spot rare species on a bird-watching tour of Tsurui, spend two days in the capital of Sapporo and take an included icebreaker cruise on the Okhotsk Sea. Ride a cable car to the summit of Mount Hakodate, then fly back to Honshu to take in the best of classic Japan. Explore Kyoto and Kanazawa, and visit the UNESCO-listed village of Shirakawago before returning to Tokyo.

Inclusions
Itinerary
Prices & Dates
Hotels

Trip Highlights

Tokyo - Take in highlights of the city such as Senso-ji and the Meiji Shrine with your tour leader
Okhotsk Sea - Take in the dramatic winter coastal scenery on an included icebreaker cruise, and look out for swooping Steller's Sea Eagles on the ice floes
Hakodate - Discover the Meiji-era architecture of the city and ride the cable car to Mount Hakodate for sublime views
Kanazawa - Uncover highlights of this well-preserved ancient town, including the famous Kenrokuen garden
Tsurui - Search for rare red-crowned crane's in this lesser-visited region of Hokkaido, with the services of an expert bird-watching guide
Sapporo - Spend two days in the capital city of Hokkaido, with free time to explore and an included tour and dinner at Sapporo Beer Brewery
Kyoto - Take in the main sites of the city and enjoy afternoon tea with a maiko (trainee geisha)
Shirakawago - See the famous thatched roofs of this UNESCO-listed village, shaped like pairs of praying hands

Included

14 breakfasts, 2 lunches & 7 dinners
Escorted by a tour leader
All relevant transportation including domestic flights, and transfers including by minibus, private coach and train
Entrance fee to Hamarikyu Gardens in Tokyo
Icebreaker cruise on the Okhotsk Sea
Mt. Hakodate cable car
Hands-on washi paper making experience
Luggage forwarding from Tsurui to Sapporo, Sapporo to Kyoto and Kyoto to Tokyo
Shared portable Wi-Fi access throughout trip
14 nights 3-4 star hotels
Arrival airport transfer on day 1 and departure transfer on day 15 by shared shuttle bus
Transport card with 2,500 yen (USD $16) credit for city transport
Bird-watching guide in Tsurui
Brewery tour in Sapporo
Audience with a trainee geisha in Kyoto
Day excursion by private coach to Shirakawago village
Information pack on arrival

Not Included

International flights
Any local transport in each destination unless otherwise specified
Any entrance fees (including those for temples, shrines and museums) unless otherwise specified
Baggage handling & luggage forwarding unless otherwise specified

Itinerary

Days 1-2

Exploring Tokyo

Upon arrival in Tokyo, your driver will be waiting at the airport to escort you to our hotel located in the traditional Asakusa district via a shared shuttle. The tour leader will greet you in the lobby, and later in the evening, you will meet with the group for an orientation meeting and an exquisite meal at one of the area's finest restaurants.

On day 2, get ready to explore the diverse and exciting attractions of Tokyo. Our itinerary is fluid, but we may start the day by wandering through Asakusa's charming market stalls and visiting the historic Senso-ji temple. Continue our exploration by visiting other unique districts of Tokyo, such as the electronic stores of Akihabara, the tranquil Meiji Shrine, or the bustling Shibuya crossing.

Accommodation: Gracery Asakusa Hotel or similar
Overnight: Tokyo (2)  |  Breakfast x 1, Dinner x 1

Day 3

Fly to Tsurui

Tokyo - Tsurui. Today we take an included domestic flight north, to Hokkaido. This is Japan's second-largest island, known for its rare wildlife, rugged landscapes, volcanic terrain, and snow festivals. Despite its beauty, Hokkaido remains unvisited by many international visitors and even some Japanese. On arrival in Kushiro, we transfer by private coach to Tsurui, and enjoy a delicious home-cooked dinner at our accommodation.

Accommodation: Woody Hotel & Restaurant Yumekobo or similar
Overnight: Tsurui  |  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4

Bird-watching, Kawayu Onsen & Lake Kussharo

Tsurui - Kawayu Onsen. Today we hope to observe the mating dance of the rare red-crowned crane on a bird-watching tour in Tsurui. This area is a well-known breeding ground for the species, and we will be accompanied by both a local guide and our tour leader to try and spot them. So be sure to bring your camera! Later, we travel by private coach to Kawayu Onsen near Lake Kussharo.

Accommodation: Kawayu Kanko Hotel or similar
Overnight: Kawayu Onsen  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5

Okhotsk Sea cruise & Abashiri

Kawayu - Abashiri. Begin today by boarding an icebreaker for a scenic cruise on the Okhotsk Sea. This cruise offers stunning views of the Shiretoko Peninsula and the opportunity to observe Steller's Sea Eagles on the ice floes. Later, we travel by private coach to Abashiri, where we visit the Abashiri Prison Museum. This collection of buildings was built during the Meiji era (1868-1912). Dinner will be provided at the hotel in the evening.

Accommodation: Abashiri Koso or similar
Overnight: Abashiri  |  Breakfast, Dinner

Days 6-7

Spectacular Sapporo

Abashiri - Sapporo. Day 6 sees us travel by train from Abashiri to Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido. The train ride will provide stunning views of Hokkaido's expansive snowy landscapes. Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is known for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1972. You can explore the city and try unique local dishes such as buttery ramen noodles. During the annual snow festival, Odori Park becomes a hub of activity with snow sculptures and food stalls offering a delightful experience for visitors. The city also boasts Meiji period architecture, including the iconic Clock Tower.

Day 7 is at leisure to enjoy the winter wonderland of Sapporo. We recommend visiting Nijo Fish Market, exploring the Ainu Museum to learn about Hokkaido's indigenous people, or climbing the TV tower for panoramic city views. The day will conclude with a dinner at the Sapporo Beer Brewery.

Accommodation: Cross Hotel Sapporo or similar
Overnight: Sapporo (2)  |  Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 1

Day 8

Hakodate

Sapporo - Hakodate. Travelling by train to Hakodate, we can explore Meiji period red-brick warehouses in the afternoon, now transformed into trendy shops, cafes, and restaurants. We can also delve into the early modern history of the city at the unique star-shaped Goryokaku fort. Hakodate has a rich history, closely connected to Japan's re-opening to the world in the nineteenth century after centuries of isolation.

As the sun sets, we take a thrilling cable car ride to the summit of Mt Hakodate, where we can admire one of Japan's best panoramic nighttime views.

Accommodation: Hakodate Kokusai Hotel or similar
Overnight: Hakodate  |  Breakfast

Days 9-11

Kyoto sightseeing & free time

Hakodate - Kyoto. After exploring Hakodate's bustling morning market on day 9, it is time to bid farewell to Hokkaido and head back to Honshu, Japan's main island, via a flight from Hakodate to Itami Airport. From here, we hop on a train to Kyoto, a city that served as Japan's cultural and political hub for over a thousand years. Upon arrival, you will check in to your hotel and enjoy a delicious meal with your group. Kyoto's rich history as the centre of Imperial power has left behind a wealth of historical sites, including temples, shrines, palaces, and gardens that were fortunately spared from destruction during World War Two.

Our tour leader will lead an in-depth exploration of Kyoto on day 10, showcasing both famous landmarks and hidden gems. The highlight of the day will be a special meeting with a maiko (trainee geisha), offering insight into the enigmatic world of geisha culture.

Day 11 will offer free time to further explore Kyoto's attractions or to embark on a day trip to nearby destinations accessible by train. Your tour leader may lead an optional excursion to Nara, the former capital, located just a short train ride away. Alternatively, you are free to pursue your own interests and sights.

Accommodation: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo or similar
Overnight: Kyoto (3)  |  Breakfast x 3, Dinner x 1

Days 12-13

Kanazawa & Shirakawago

Kyoto - Kanazawa - Shirakawago - Kanazawa. In the morning of day 12, we depart from Kyoto and travel by train to Kanazawa on the Japan Sea coast, a region known as "yukiguni" or snow country. Similar to Kyoto, Kanazawa was spared from bombing during World War II due to its significant religious sites and cultural assets, making it one of Japan's best-preserved historical cities. In the afternoon, we visit Kenrokuen, a famous garden in Japan known for its iconic "snow ropes" that protect the trees from heavy snowfall in winter. If time permits, consider visiting the local market, samurai district, or 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art.

On day 13, we embark on a day trip by private bus to Shirakawago, with a stop along the way to learn about traditional Japanese washi paper making. Once in Shirakawago, indulge in a hearty traditional lunch before exploring this UNESCO World Heritage designated village, known for its traditional thatched roofing, or gassho-zukuri. Returning to Kanazawa in the evening, the rest of today is at leisure.

Accommodation: Mitsui Garden Kanazawa or similar
Overnight: Kanazawa (2)  |  Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 1

Days 14-15

Back to Tokyo

Kanazawa - Tokyo. Experience one last afternoon and evening in the bustling metropolis of Tokyo after arriving on a high-speed bullet train from Kanazawa. Take advantage of some free time to explore, shop for souvenirs, and savour a farewell dinner with our tour leader and group. On day 15, a shared shuttle bus will transport you to the airport for your journey home. Wishing you a safe trip back!

Accommodation: Millenium Mitsui Garden or similar
Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 1

Prices & Dates

Departure dates marked with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departures are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 persons. 'Twin Share' prices are per person when there are 2 people sharing a room. 'Single Room' prices are applicable to those who don’t have anyone to share a room with or anyone wanting the privacy of a single room.

Guaranteed Departure
2025
Twin Share
Single Room
R187,935
R207,175
R187,935
R207,175
R187,935
R207,175
R187,935
R207,175

Hotels

The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.

Gracery Asakusa Hotel, Tokyo

Our Category: Standard   |   Regional Category: 3 Star Hotel

Hotel Gracery Asakusa offers a prime location just 800 meters from the iconic Sensoji Temple. Each unit in the hotel is thoughtfully equipped with a kettle for added convenience, and the rooms feature private bathrooms with baths. For guest comfort, Hotel Gracery Asakusa provides air conditioning and flat-screen TVs in every room. The multilingual staff at the reception are proficient in both English and Japanese, ensuring a smooth and pleasant stay experience.

At a Glance

Range
Trip Type
Starts
Tokyo
Ends
Tokyo
Departs
January - February
Group Size
Min 4 / Max 14
Hotel Rating
3-4 star hotels
Tour Guide
Yes - escorted by a tour leader
Meals
Breakfast: 14, Lunch: 2, Dinner: 7
Countries
Minimum Age
6 yrs, accompanied by an adult
Arr. Transfer
Yes
Dep. Transfer
Yes
Rainbow Bridge, stretching across the water in Tokyo, lit up at night
Beautiful lake with a temple in the background in springtime in Kyoto
Stunning green lake surrounded by verdant vegetation in Kanazawa
Rainbow Bridge, stretching across the water in Tokyo, lit up at night
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