DAY 1: Saturday 1 February, 2020 Arrive in Tokyo
Arrive into Tokyo Airport today. Your accommodation tonight is in Keio Plaza Hotel, located in the heart of Shinjuku. For our tour guests arriving today, transfer from Narita Airport to our hotel is provided using the Airport Limousine Shuttle Bus.
You can check in to your hotel room any time after 2 pm.
DAY 2: Sunday 2 February ( B D ) Zenkoji Temple, Nagano Snow Fields
Your Tour Services commence this morning at our Tokyo Hotel. Meet your Tour Manager at breakfast this morning.
Commence our tour at 9 am this morning by private charter coach to the central snow fields near Nagano.
Along the way we will stop to visit Zenkoji Temple, founded in the 7th century and whose main building dates from 1707.
For the next two nights we will stay in a romantic traditional Japanese Inn at Kanbayashi Onsen, far away from the tourist track.
Welcome Dinner Tonight
DAY 3: Monday 3 February ( B D ) Snow Monkeys, Farm House Museum, Farmers Fields
Take a leisurely walk along a secluded forest track to visit the famous Japanese Snow Monkeys, who like to bathe in the natural hot geothermal spa pools. This is your best opportunity to get those wonderful monkey photos you have seen on TV travel shows and on the internet.
This afternoon we walk around the tiny village and take some picturesque photos around the snow covered farmer’s fields. Visit a former grand country home, now the village museum which preserves a collection of rural life memorabilia.
Tonight you can relax in your ryokan’s open air spa bath, without any monkeys in it.
DAY 4: Tuesday 4 February ( B D ) Mt Zao, Snow Monsters
Continue our journey by our private charter coach, further into the wild winter wonderland of central Honshu to stay in a Spa & Ski Village.
Here we travel by heated snowmobile up the side of a cluster of stratovolcanoes called Mt Zao, with the prospect of seeing Snow Monsters..
This truly picturesque sight is the result of strong moisture laden freezing winds that create horizontal icicles on the trees, which are then covered by snow.
Tonight we stay in another Onsen town on the side of Mt Zao
DAY 5: Wednesday 5 February ( B D ) Fly from Sendai to Sapporo
Free time this morning to soak in the onsen hot spa baths before we travel to the city of Sendai.
This afternoon we fly from Sendai to Sapporo the capital city of Hokkaido island.
Our Western style hotel is located within easy walking distance of Odori Park, the main area of activity and sculptures at Sapporo Snow Festival.
Special feature tonight is a buffet dinner at the famous Sapporo Beer Hall.
DAY 6: Thursday 6 February ( B ) Sapporo Snow Festival
All day you can enjoy the photogenic ice castles and snow sculptures at the Sapporo Snow Festival. Previous year’s displays have included replicas of the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Pyramids and St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Later we visit the second Sapporo Festival Ice Sculpture display area which features a large number of extravagant ice carvings.
This evening is free for you to wander through the festival area, enjoy the festivities and capture some great night photos of the colourful illuminated snow and ice sculptures.
Stay in Sapporo again tonight.
DAY 7: Friday 7 February ( B D ) Asahikawa Winter Festival, Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival
Tour by our private charter coach from Sapporo to Sounkyo Gorge in Daisetsuzan National Park.
First stop today is at the Asahikawa International Ice Sculpture Festival, as well as visiting the biggest solid Snow Built Structure in Japan. You might even like to enjoy a drink of hot Sake whilst sitting in The Ice Cafe … which is actually built of ice.
Tonight we visit Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival, where giant structures, stairways, tunnels, turrets and castle walls resemble the face of a frozen waterfall illuminated with coloured lights. After your evening stroll around the ice festival you can return to your hotel and soak in the hot spring baths either inside your hotel or in the outdoor pool.
Accommodation tonight is Japanese style, in Sounkyo Village.
DAY 8: Saturday 8 February ( B.D ) Abashiri Drift Ice Festival & Museum
Tour from Sounkyo Gorge to the port of Abashiri to visit the Abashiri Drift Ice Museum, where you can watch a wide screen theatre presentation featuring impressive scenes of the creation of drift ice. The Sea of Okhotsk is frozen in winter, with an endless carpet of pack ice drifting down from the north.
This afternoon we stop for a look in at the Abashiri Drift Ice Festival and visit Okhotsk Tower at Monbetsu.
Japanese style accommodation for one night in our hotel on the shore of frozen Lake Abashiri. Here, before dinner, you can walk onto the frozen lake and watch the locals catch Wakasagi fish through holes in the ice.
Great Spotted Woodpeckers can usually be seen near our hotel.
DAY 9: Sunday 9 February ( B D ) Sea of Okhotsk, Ice Breaker Cruise, Lake Tofutsu
Tour from Abashiri to Utoro today, along the coastline of the Sea of Okhotsk.
Experience an Ice Breaker cruise amongst the floating rafts of ice, where it is usually a good chance to observe Northern Fur Seals, Kurile Seals and numerous sea eagles resting on the icebergs.
Steller’s Sea Eagles and White-tailed Eagles can often be seen around the town, especially along the harbourside.
Along the way we drop in at Lake Tofutsu to view Whooper Swans, Goldeneye, Pintail Ducks and Goosander in addition to possible sightings of Steller’s Sea Eagle and White Tailed Eagles resting in trees along the coast road.
Tonight we stay in a harbour front hotel at Utoro Port on Shiretoko Peninsula, a World Heritage Listed Nature Site.
Utoro is in the process of altering its former Winter Festival activities and have not yet decided what will replace their Aurora Laser Show.
DAY 10: Monday 10 February ( B D ) Lake Kussharo, Lake Mashu, Sulphur Mountain, Akan, Ainu Wood Carving
Tour from Utoro, across the mountains with a stop at Lake Kussharo, where the steaming hot beach attracts hundreds of Whooper Swans in winter. We also stop for a look down into the volcanic crater lake of Lake Mashu and witness the awe inspiring sulphur encrusted fumaroles belching super heated steam at Sulphur Mountain.
Continue touring across wide expanses of snow covered farm lands to Akan National Park, one of the centres of the Ainu, the original inhabitants of Hokkaido. Native Ainu people operate many wood carving shops in Akan town where you can watch a demonstration of their craft skills.
We visit Lake Akan famous for its balls of green algae “marimo” that rise and fall in the lake. See igloos built on the lake`s thick ice surface and you might like to try your hand at Ice Fishing with the locals or take an optional ride on a snow mobile.
Stay tonight in our hotel at Lake Akan.
DAY 11: Tuesday 11 February ( B D ) Kushiro City Museum , Seafood Market
First visit today is to the wonderful collection of cultural and nature displays at Kushiro City Museum. Here we learn about the geological formation, wildlife, historic and Ainu culture of the surrounding area.
Next visit is to Kushiro fresh seafood market where you will see an amazing variety of locally caught produce.
Stay in ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel for the next two nights at the port of Kushiro and tonight we go out to a Japanese style Charcoal Barbecue Restaurant for dinner.
DAY 12: Wednesday 12 February ( B D ) Red- crowned Cranes, Kushiro Marsh, Steam Train
This morning we will visit a location where Japanese Red-crowned Cranes, White-tailed Eagles and Black Kites congregate during winter.
At this Wild Bird Observatory you are guaranteed to see Japanese Red-crowned Cranes, which at this time of year are often seen performing their spectacular Courtship Dance. Here too we could possibly see Great Spotted Woodpecker, Marsh Tit, Great Tit, Brown-eared Bulbul and Eurasian Sparrow.
In the afternoon we plan to ride a genuine old steam train across the Kushiro snowfields. A great opportunity to take some steamy photos and videos from the rear carriage as the engine steams around the corners.
Stay in Kushiro again tonight and enjoy a Genghis Khan Barbecue.
DAY 13: Thursday 13 February ( B ) Fly from Kushiro to Tokyo, Yomiyuriland Illuminations
Transfer to Kushiro Airport for our flight to Tokyo.
Stay for 2 nights at Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba Hotel, located in the modern Odaiba area on Tokyo Bay.
Numerous restaurants and a fascinating variety of shops and picturesque sights are within walking distance of your hotel.
This evening we visit Yomiyuriland Winter Illumination Display where 5 million coloured LED lights create the biggest parkland of light art in Japan.
DAY 14: Friday 14 February ( B D ) Free Day in Tokyo
Free day today for you to either visit the various museums, gardens, shops and attractions of Tokyo. Your hotel concierge and tour manager will be available to help you find whatever you are interested in.
Panasonic Showroom, Maritime Museum, Science Museum, Yurikamomae Monorail and Tokyo Beach are all within walking distance of your hotel. Ginza and several indoor mega shopping malls are close by.
This evening we have our special Farewell Dinner
DAY 15: Saturday 15 February ( B ) Depart Japan
Our tour ends after breakfast this morning and check out time is 11 am.
Transfer from our hotel to Tokyo’s Narita Airport by Airport Limousine Shuttle Coach is included for our guests who are leaving today.
- Escorted by an Australian / Japanese Tour Manager
- Touring in executive private charter coaches
- Traditional Spa Ryokans + Deluxe Hotels
- Meals listed as (B-Breakfast; D-Dinner)
- Daily breakfasts
- 11 Dinners
- Ice breaker cruise and steam train ride
- Five snow & ice festivals
- Three national parks
- Guaranteed Red-crowned Crane viewing
- Guaranteed Snow Monkey viewing
- Entry fees to all attractions listed
- Flight from Sendai to Sapporo on 5 Feb
- Flight from Kushiro to Tokyo on 13 February
- Compendium of maps and information