Japan Snow Monkeys and Hokkaido Tour & Workshops 2017

Snow Monkeys & Hokkaido Tour 2017

Table of Contents

 

Both of our 2017 tours are now FULL
Consider our 2018 Tours or contact us to join the 2017 cancellation/wait list

 

Winter Wonderland Photography Tour & Workshop – 12 days
(Jan 30 – Feb 10 and Feb 20 – Mar 3, 2017)

 

Summary

This photography adventure takes us to the best Japanese winter wildlife locations in Japan, at exactly the right time to capture the images of a lifetime. We’ll visit the adorable Snow Monkeys in Nagano for the first three days of each tour. For the latter nine days we travel to Hokkaido to photograph the majestic Red-Crowned Cranes, Whooper Swans, Seller’s Sea Eagles, White Tailed Eagles, Ezo Deer and possibly foxes. There are also some Landscape photography opportunities during the tour, but if you want to photograph the incredible landscape in Hokkaido, also consider our Hokkaido Photography Landscape Adventure.

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We stay in four of the six hotels for two or three nights running, meaning you don’t have to uproot every morning. This also gives us the opportunity for structured workshop session on digital photography work-flow and color management, as well as group critique sessions as time allows.

 

Details of Your Photography Adventure

Snow Monkeys (days 1, 2, 3)

We initially head out to Nagano, north-west of Tokyo, for three days photographing the adorable Japanese Macaque, affectionately known as the Snow Monkeys. These amazing primates are one of the Japanese mainland’s biggest attractions for the winter wildlife photographer. By the evening of day three, we make our way to Tokyo Haneda airport where we spend one night, and then fly to Hokkaido early on the morning of day four. This marks the start of nine days in eastern Hokkaido photographing some of the most breathtaking winter wildlife in the world.

Red-Crowned Cranes (days 4, 5)

In Hokkaido, we spend two full days photographing the Red-Crowned Cranes, in a number of locations around Kushiro and Akan. We’ll also visit the Otowa “Sound of Wings” Bridge at dawn on two mornings, with fingers crossed for low temperatures and no wind, in the hope that we’ll get river mist and frosty trees on at least one of the two days.

Whooper Swans (days 6, 7)

We spend two days photographing the Whooper Swans at Kussharo Lake, as they warm themselves in the hot spring waters that flow into the lake. We’ll also aim to capture the swans taking off and landing, working on panning techniques, as well as environmental shots of the swans in their beautiful setting.

Bihoro Pass, Mashuu Lake and Iouzan (Sulphur Mountain) (days 6, 7)

While at the location where we’ll shoot the Whooper Swans, we’ll head out for a dawn shoot at Bihoro Pass, looking down over the Kussharo Lake, and go to see if we can catch the swans flying in to the lake in the beautiful soft morning light. We also have a purposefully short shoot at Iouzan (Sulphur Mountain!) for some surreal landscape opportunities.

Sea Eagles (days 8, 9, 10)

We head over to the Shiretoko Peninsula and the port town of Rausu, where we spend three days going out on a boat at dawn to photograph the awesome Seller’s Sea Eagles and White Tailed Eagles on the sea ice.

Notsuke Peninsula & Shinto Shrine Visit (8, 9, 10)

While we are staying in Rausu for the Sea Eagles, we’ll make time at least once to drive out to the Notsuke Peninsula to photograph the stark landscapes and Ezo Deer that we often find there. On one of the afternoons in Rausu, we also pay an optional visit to the local Shinto Shrine, where we receive a traditional Shinto blessing, and have the chance to ask questions about the shrine and the Shinto religion.

Shiretoko National Park (days 11, 12)

Then on the way around to the Utoro side of the Shiretoko Peninsula, we will make stops along the way to photograph the landscape and birch tree groves. Just outside of Utoro we’ll make a stop at the Oshinkoshin Falls, and make our way into the Shiretoko National Park for a walk out through the woods in the hope of spotting some Ezo Deer and to capture the wonderful landscape there. After a steady morning of photography, we head over to Memanbetsu airport and fly back to Tokyo on the afternoon of Day 12.

Workshop and Critique Sessions

Depending on weather and the group’s energy levels, at a number of locations we set time aside for a workshop sessions as well as a critique session for those interested in participating.

NOTE: You will receive a detailed itinerary and information to help you prepare for your tour shortly after making your reservation.

Your Host – Martin Bailey

Your host and tour leader, Martin Bailey, is British born though now a Japanese citizen, having lived in Japan for over twenty years. A professional wildlife and nature photographer, Martin is also fluent in Japanese both written and spoken, and his knowledge of the locations we visit and subjects we photograph is unrivaled, making us the perfect choice for your Japanese photography adventure.

Martin has been visiting Hokkaido every year since 2003, and the 2016 tours brings us into our ninth consecutive year. We continuously refine the Itinerary and locations visited based on previous experience and feedback. These tours just get better and better.

Additional Information

Accommodation & Meals

We stay in a mix of traditional Japanese hotels and western style hotels, with great food, sometimes buffet style, though often meals prepared specifically for our group. We’ll note if you have an food preferences (allergies, vegetarian etc.) and make changes as possible to suit your needs. Many of the hotels have relaxing hot springs baths to relax after a day out shooting.

Transport

For the entire tour we use a large bus with a professional driver that stays with us the entire time. The large bus provides every participant with a double seat, which means you can put your camera bag right next to you on the seat, for easy access to your gear when a photo opportunity arise. On occasion we shoot from the bus windows, and the bus size provides everyone with an open window on either side as well.

Full Time Tour Conductor

To ensure that all of the tour logistics run like clockwork we travel with a full time conductor on hand throughout the tour. This means we never have to wait for our keys at hotels, and all meals are ready for us when we arrive. We are also able to negotiate much better meals for western tastes that most Japan tours are able to provide. This frees Martin to concentrate on working with the group and gives you more time to concentrate on your photography and enjoying your Japan experience.

Who is this Workshop for?

  • Anyone with a love for wildlife, nature and landscape photography, and that can handle a bit of cold weather
  • Anyone that wants to improve their photography while shooting the photographs of a lifetime
  • In general, tuition assumes at least a basic understanding of photography and your equipment, but Photographers of all skill levels are very welcome
  • You’ll need an SLR camera, and lenses up around 400mm (or 35mm equivalent) though ideally you’ll have two SLR camera bodies, so that you don’t have to change lenses during fast paced shooting, like when photographing birds in flight. You’ll receive advice on all gear necessary after signing up

What is included in the Package?

  • All accommodation and meals during your tour
  • Flights from Tokyo Haneda airport to Hokkaido and back
  • A chartered bus with driver (and lots of luggage space) to transport us safely and comfortably around Japan for the entire trip
  • A representative from our Tour Operator partner travels with us throughout to ensure all the logistics run smoothly – and free Martin up to give full attention to the group
  • Admission fees to planned facilities and excursions, such as the crane center and chartered boat to photograph the Eagles

What is NOT included in the Package?

  • Your flight or travel costs to the meeting points in Tokyo or back home after the tours
  • Hotels while traveling prior to or following the tour/workshops (although we can help with booking your Tokyo hotels for one or two nights before and/or after the tour as necessary)
  • Beverages or additional items ordered during meals

A Word on Insurance

Our Tour Operator carries standard insurance necessary by Japanese law but you are strongly advised to arrange the following insurance:

  • Travel Insurance — If you fall sick or have an accident during the course of the trip, you will miss part of your tour, and hospital fees and other expenses can mount up. We strongly advise you to take out travel insurance for yourself for the entire length of the trip in advance of departure
  • Cancellation Insurance — This is often included in your Travel Insurance, but if for any reason you have to cancel your tour, cancellation insurance can help you recuperate your costs
  • Camera Equipment Insurance — We also suggest that you insure your photography equipment and belongings if not included in your home or travel insurance. If you already have your gear insured, double check that you are covered for international travel too, if you are visiting Japan from another country

Influenza Vaccinations

You do not need any special vaccinations for Japan, but you are strongly advised to ensure that you’ve had an influenza shot for that season by no later than two weeks prior to coming to Japan. These tours coincide with the flu season here in Japan, and we would not like you to lose valuable photography days in bed or risk infecting the rest of the group, if we can help it. Vaccinations are not 100% though. It’s good practice to wash your hands and gargle with water when you get to your hotel, especially after traveling on public transport.

Guidebook CoverGuidebook PDF

After you sign up, you will receive a PDF document to help you with your preparations. This will contain details on recommended camera gear, cold weather clothing, and advice on Japanese etiquette to help make your stay in Japan as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. There is also a detailed itinerary, maps and hotel phone numbers etc. to leave with your loved ones while you’re away.

Cost & Reservation

The tour costs vary depending on your room preference. The standard single room is ¥590,000 (approx. US$5,988) with the possibility of sharing for two to a maximum of four of our eleven nights. If you would like to guarantee a single room for the duration, there is a single supplement of ¥35,000 (approx. US$355) payable with your balance.Double rooms, for couples or room-mates that will share a room for the duration of the tour, your tour fee will be discounted to ¥555,000 (approx. US$5,632) per person.To book please pay a reservation fee / deposit of ¥100,000 (approx. US$1,015) by credit card, PayPal or bank transfer using the buttons below. The tour fee balance according to your room preference will payable 90 days before departure. The total tour fees are comprised of the deposit and balance payments.(Current rate used: 1 USD = 98.5355 JPY)

Note that the US dollar amounts displayed here are updated dynamically every hour, for your reference, but may vary slightly from what you pay due to varying rates used by credit cards and paypal during the conversion from Japanese Yen to your local currency.

NOTES:

  • The dollar amounts stated on this page are for reference only – fees are payable in Japanese Yen (¥) which is handled by our shopping cart and automatically calculated to your local currency by your credit card company or bank
  • You can select to pay by bank transfer when you check out, and you will be sent our business bank account details
  • Please ensure that you send the balance in Japanese Yen for this tour. If sending in Yen is not possible, ask your bank to calculate the price based on their current rates before sending
  • If you want to book for more than one person you can change the number of participants in the shopping cart before checking out
  • Tours require a minimum of ten (10) participants to go ahead. We’ll let you know, but please ensure that the tour has reached the minimum number of participants before you purchase any flights that require large cancellations fees, or ensure that you purchase travel/cancellation insurance to protect your investment
  • There is a maximum of 12 to 14 people per tour depending on how many couples join us

Cancellation Policy/Fees

Reservation Fee – if you decide to cancel and we are able to rebook your place, your reservation fee will be refunded. If we cannot rebook your place, we cannot refund your reservation fee. Tour Fee (balance) – if you cancel your reservation the following charges will be payable:

  • If you cancel more than 61 days before the start of your tour fee (balance) will be refunded in full
  • From 60 to 31 days before the start of the trip, cancellation fees are 25% of your tour fee (balance)
  • From 30 to 8 days before the start of the trip, cancellation fees are 50% of your tour fee (balance)
  • From 7 days to 72 hours before the start of the trip, cancellation fees are 75% of your tour fee (balance)
  • If you cancel less than 72 hours before the start of the trip, we cannot refund your tour fee (balance)
  • Note: Transfer charges and fees incurred on accepting and/or refunding payments will be deducted from the refund amount

Booking and Balance Payment

Payment can be made in US Dollars ($) or Japanese Yen (¥), but if possible, please switch to Japanese Yen with the pull-down below before proceeding, as all expenses for this tour are payable in Yen. Any credit card payments will automatically be converted to your local currency by your credit card company. If you have any questions or problems with payment, please let us know.

NOTE: The shopping cart manages inventory. If you are able to pay the reservation fee, there are places available, and the tour cannot be over-booked.

Currency Switcher

Please switch currency to Japanese Yen with this pull-down before proceeding. You may need to give the page a few seconds to reload…

Both of our 2017 tours are now FULL
Consider our 2018 Tours or contact us to join the 2017 cancellation/wait list

Reservation/Deposit Payments

Tour #1

Jan 30 – Feb 10, 2017 (12 days)

Tour #2

Feb 20 – Mar 3, 2017 (12 days)

FULL
Please contact us to join the wait list
 FULL
Please contact us to join the wait list

Balance payments are due 3 months prior to start date. For information please see the Cost & Reservation section above.

 

Balance Payments

Your deposit is already deducted from these amounts

Tour #1

Jan 30 – Feb 10, 2017 (12 days)

Tour #2

Feb 20 – Mar 3, 2017 (12 days)

Any Questions?

If you are interested in coming along but want more information, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to seeing you in Japan, for the photography tour and workshop of a lifetime! — Martin Bailey.

Related Blog Posts and Podcasts

If you are interested, you might want to check out the following blog posts and podcasts…

2016 Tour#2 Episodes

2016 Tour#1 Episodes

2015 Tour Episodes

2014 Tour Episodes

2013 Tour Episodes

2012 Tour Episodes

2011 Tour Episodes

2010 Tour Episodes