Start your tour in Tokyo, one of the world’s most contemporary city and travel upward north to Japan’s most remote region. Along the way stop at various towns like Nikko that is preserved in an atmosphere of Japan’s bygone days with its many antiqued temples and shrines, and Hakodate, a charming town with historical landmarks left by foreign settlement after Japan opened up to international trade in the 1800’s. And make an entrance to Japan seasonal wonderments at Zao with the almighty snow monsters, marvel at the giant snow and ice sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival and experience Japan’s most remarkable winter festivals in Hokkaido. As you explore Japan’s picturesque winter landscapes at the Akan National Park, you will be able to watch the nearly-extinct Japanese red-crowned cranes present a lively mingle and dance among each other and do some snowshoes for a wintery walk in Shiretoko National Park where wildlife of deer, foxes, and eagles make appearances and take an unusual cruise on an icebreaker ship out to the Okhotsk Sea to watch the ship break the ice and create a trail for fishermen boats. Challenge yourself walk on the ice floes and try to swim among them in search for glowing sea angels. After all the hard work traveling, soak yourself in some of the best natural hot springs baths. Dine on great Tohoku and Hokkaido foods, and taste some of the region’s best-known breweries and whiskey distilleries as you enjoy an adventure of natural, cultural and artistic delights that celebrates the splendor of Japan’s far north.
Number of Days: 13 days / 12 nights
Max: 6 ~ 10 participants
Travel: Domestic Flight, Japan Railway and public transportations
Tour Activity: sightseeing, culture, snow festival and outdoor activity
Tour Guides: Peggy L. Prosser with local Deaf guides
Language Used: American Sign Language
Physical: medium and cold (snowshoeing through woodland, walk on ice and concrete in cities, some climbing stairs, standing and using public transportation)
Your guide will greet you at the airport and escorted you to your hotel.
After breakfast, you go up the Skytree for a panoramic view of the great metropolis, stop by the Sensoji the oldest buddhist temple in Tokyo, and then to Meiji Shrine that is located in the heart of Tokyo’s fashion district.
Depart in the morning for the World Heritage Nikko National Park to see Japan’s most lavish decorated shrine, the Toshogu, you take a leisure walk around park surrounded by nature and old historical buildings including the Shinkyo bridge that is one of Japan’s three finest. After sightseeing in Nikko you will travel to Sendai for your hotel.
In the morning you catch a bus for a day trip to the Zao Snow Monster fields. The snow monsters are ice glazed trees covered with snow. In case of poor quality of snow scenery or volcanic activity, travel plans will be modified to a day trip to visit the Zao Fox Village, the Kokeshi Doll Village and dip into a natural hot spring bath.
Check out your hotel and take the newest Shinkansen train to Hakodate, Hokkaido. You arrive to Japan’s largest prefecture, Hokkaido. In Hakodate, you will go on a city-tour on street car and by foot to explore one Japan’s first cities that opened to international trade and about old foreign settlement there. At sunset, you will go up Mount Hakodate for a spectacular view of the city and watch the night lights come on.
After breakfast, you travel to Sapporo where the Annual Sapporo Snow Festival is held. You join thousands of people from around the world at this festival to admire the massive snow and ice sculptures built on the Odori Park.
You will travel out of Sapporo to visit Asahikawa School for the Deaf, meet with Deaf students and teachers at the school and then return back to Sapporo by evening. Overnight in Sapporo.
In the early morning, you catch the express train, riding through Hokkaido’s central region to Kushiro for an afternoon tour of the Kushiro marshland habitat that supports the only known population of the endangered Japanese red crowned cranes. Your guide will take you to different habitats and drop you off at Lake Akan where you will stay for two nights. Your hotel has natural hot spring facilities. You may watch a firework display from your hotel room window.
You spend a full day to explore the Lake Akan National park and participate in winter sporting activities such as down hill or cross country skiing, ice fishing, ice skating or snowmobiling (note these sporting activities are optional at your expense). The village is small with a number of craft shops and art galleries exhibiting the Aniu culture. The Aniu are the indigenous people of Japan. Also, you will also see some wood work by late Masamitsu Takiguchi, a deaf wood sculpture artist. In the evening, you may join the Lake Akan winter festival.
You meet your local guide and travel to Shiretoko Peninsula known for its steep mountain peaks covered with virgin forests and hot springs. The region is a remote area of Japan and is home to a variety of wildlife, including the Seller eagle, brown bears, deer and foxes. In 2005, Shiretoko was added to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites for the irreplaceable value of the peninsula’s ecosystem and biodiversity. In winter, the peninsula's coast along the Sea of Okhotsk becomes one of the northern hemisphere's southernmost regions to see drift ice. Along the way from Kushiro to Shiretoko you will stop at spectacular landmarks of the region before checking in your hotel.
After breakfast, you go on a snowshoe trek through the Shiretoko National Park and into areas that are off limits to hikers during other seasons (Spring, Summer and Autumn). This particular trail is open only during the winter. You will snowshoe through a winter wonderland atmosphere around frozen lakes, to see frozen waterfalls and to watch for foxes, deer and the Seller eagle. By noon, we return to our hotel for lunch and some rest before going on the ice drift walk and dive into the water to search for some glowing sea angles. You will be dressed thermal wetsuits that will keep us dry and warm. Following ice drift walk and swim your local guide will take you to watch the sunset against blue coloured ice floes before returning back to your hotel the natural hot spring facilities where you can sit back and relax your body and muscles in the hot water.
You check out your hotel and travel in private car through a scenic route to Abarashi for the icebreaker ship on the Okhotsk Sea. The icebreaker ship breaks the ice floating on the sea for the fishermen. You watch how the ice is broken and how trails are made and also for wildlife animals on ice or by the shore. After your return to the shore you take lunch in the city before being transferred to the Memanbetsu Airport for your flight to back to Tokyo.
It’s time to say, “Sayonara”. You will be transferred to your airport.
- Flight from Hokkaido to Tokyo
- Japan Tohoku, JR Rail Pass
- Other travel passes (subway, private train, bus, streetcar)
- 12-nights accommodations (including all hotel taxes)
- Meals (12 breakfasts, 5 dinners)
- Airport transfers
- Concierge services
- Admission fees to sites
- Electronic handbook with lists of tips, suggestions and more
NOT INCLUDED in the tour package:
- International airfare
- Insurance for international air travel
- Insurance for travel in Japan
- All other meals not stated in the itinerary
- Alcohol, soft drinks and desserts
- Other additional expenses such as laundry, Internet, and souvenirs