Natural Habitat Adventures - vacations and travel

Majestic Japan

Japan, Asia

from $8,495* per person 13 Days January
Luxury accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Natural Habitat Adventures 14 people max
  • Tokyo, japan
  • Culture & Nature trips
National Geographic Traveler's Tours of a Lifetime 2010
    * Sit with the snow monkeys of Nagano as they soak in natural hot springs
    * Watch thousands of graceful cranes at two serene sanctuaries
    * Discover the tranquil beauty of Japan’s mountains and marshes in winter

Japan often evokes images of fast-paced urban life and cutting-edge technology. But that’s just one side of this surprising country. The other is its lesser-known natural splendor. From the snow-capped peaks of ancient volcanoes to its abundant wildlife, forests and wetlands, wild Japan is diverse and breathtaking. We visit in winter, when crowds are few. This is a season of peace and enchantment, when more than 12,000 hooded and white-naped cranes dance together on the island of Kyushu, majestic red-crowned cranes congregate in the Hokkaido lowlands, and snow monkeys gather to bask in geothermal hot springs.

Locations visited/nearby

Japan, Asia

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Special information

  • May accommodate certain types of disabilities. Contact the operator for more information.


Day 1: Tokyo, Japan

Arrive in Japan’s vibrant capital, where we enjoy a welcome dinner.

Days 2 & 3: Kagoshima / Arasaki Crane Reserve

Fly to Japan’s southernmost island of Kyushu. Here, among the fallow rice paddies of Arasaki Crane Reserve, more than 12,000 hooded and white-naped cranes mass to feed during the winter. We’ll observe them in enormous flocks or watch them migrating as they begin their spring return to Siberia.

Day 4: Kambayashi Onsen

Exchanging Kyushu’s lush tea plantations for the rugged mountains of Honshu, we travel to Nagano in the “Japan Alps.” Here, urban escapees come to bathe in the myriad hot springs, called onsen, and our traditional inn offers a chance to indulge in this cultural rite.

Days 5 & 6: Jigokudani Monkey Park

Tucked away in a narrow alpine valley, Japan’s most endearing wild creatures await: the famous snow monkeys of Nagano. We delight in the social antics of these Japanese macaques, bathing in the geothermal pools that bubble up from the frozen ground, their expressive eyes and pink faces surrounded by ruffs of shaggy fur.

Day 7: Nagano / Tsurui

Today we descend from the mountains, returning to Tokyo. From there we fly to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, steeped in tranquil beauty. We spend three nights in the

Days 8 & 9: Hokkaido / Kushiro Shitsugen National Park

The landscape of eastern Hokkaido is arresting, defined by snow-covered volcanoes, wooded hills and rugged coastlines. Kushiro Shitsugen National Park holds Japan’s largest wetlands, sanctuary for the rare redcrowned cranes. We’ll observe the graceful courtship dance of these elegant white birds that are a symbol of Japan. We’ll also visit Akan National Park, a subarctic boreal forest reserve renowned for its crater lakes, hot springs and bubbling mud pools. During our time in the area, we’ll learn about the indigenous Ainu

Day 10: Tsurui / Yoroushi

Entering vast Kushiro Marsh, we look for herds of Sitka deer, northern red fox, and two dramatic species of sea eagle. From our secluded riverside inn in Yoroushi, we take a nature walk to look for woodland birds, richly furred sable and the area’s rarest resident: the massive Blakiston’s fish owl, standing up to 30 inches tall.

Day 11: Yoroushi

Today we may take a boat ride to the edge of the sea ice to observe sea eagles and other wildlife, if the ice is in close-enough range. Alternately, we may explore Notsuke Peninsula to view birds of prey, seabirds, foxes and deer. This evening we’ll enjoy one last onsen opportunity in the mineral springs by the rushing river.

Day 12: Yoroushi / Tokyo

Over breakfast we are entertained by a flurry of birds at the inn’s feeders. We may also spy a brown dipper in the river or a crested kingfisher in flight. After a last walk in the woods, we reluctantly leave the solitude of Hokkaido to fly back to Tokyo, replete with memories of Japan’s wild wonders.

Day 13: Tokyo / Home

Transfer to the airport to depart for flights home.

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