Hokkaido is the second largest island of the four main islands that make up Japan. Located to the north of Honshu, the northernmost point of Hokkaido is just about 40 kilometers south of the southernmost point of Sahalin Island, Russian territory. Despite of occupying a fifth of the entire country, Hokkaido barely has 5% of the population of Japan. Its population multiplies exponentially in summer when Japanese tourists look for cooler weather to enjoy summer. However, from our point of view, and after traveling to the area both in summer and winter, we believe that there is no better time to enjoy nature and wildlife of Hokkaido than in winter. Hokkaido is absolutely magical place during this season. Akashi Photo Tours will take you to places with difficult access in Hokkaido to discover all the wonders of Hokkaido.
Discover Japan with the authoers of the photo book “Japan/日本”
Hokkaido is synonymous with nature, pure wildlife and breathtaking landscapes. Traveling through its snow-covered plains, walking on frozen lakes or photographing Japanese cranes dancing in the snow are priceless experiences. The silence, the crunching of the drift ice or the whistle of the wind are Hokkaido’s daily soundtrack. For the all attractions that offer to people who love nature and photgraphy, Hokkaido is often described as “the magic island”. Hokkaido keeps attracting travelers and photographers from all over the world.
We will travel most of the time in a private bus with a professional driver so that we don’t worry about getting lost and can stop anywhere we want to take pictures. To compensate for the icy temperatures that usually occur in the winter months, Hokkaido offers many accommodations with hot springs that will be a real balm for the body at the end of a day to have a good sleep. Bathing in indoor and outdoor baths with its hot springs at 40ºC, with an outdoor temperature of -15ºC is an unique experience that you have to live at least once in your life! We will stay in some ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) with hot springs as well as in western hotels. We will also enjoy kaiseki dishes, artistic Japnese cuinse, as well as authentic local food.
This is not just a trip for photographers, but also for everyone how wants to have unique and unforgettable experiences.
Toru Morimoto and Tina Bagué are both professional photographers with more than 20 years of experience behind them. Both have been traveling Japan together since 2002. Their photo project, The Japan Photo Project, started in 2010 when they decided to leave everything behind in Spain and spend a whole year of their life (365 days) photographing Japan from the northernmost island of Japan (Hokkaido) to the tropical islands of Okinawa, with a motorhome. As a result of this road trip, they published their first co-authored book “Japan/日本“.
The fact that Toru Morimoto is Japanese and has lived half of his life in Japan and the other half abroad, and that Tina Bagué is Spanish and has traveled countless times to Japan makes them the perfect couple to guide and lead a small group of photo lovers and people who want to travel out of the beaten track in Japan. They organize a unique and unforgettable trip full of top-notch photographic opportunities and wonderful experiences during this adventure.
Once the reservation is made the participants will receive a dossier with the complete information of the tour. For now this is a small introduction of the tour.
The meeting point will be Haneda Airport (Tokyo). There, we will take a plane that will take us to the airport of Shinchitose (Sapporo). From the airport we will travel by train to Sapporo Central Station and there we will take a taxi that will take us to the hotel to check in. From there we will head towards the snow festival of Sapporo, Japan’s most famous winter festival. We will walk and photograph the illuminated sculptures at the evening. Around 7:00 pm we will have a welcome dinner in an Izakaya (authentic Japanese tavern) and afterwards we will go up to the Sapporo tower to enjoy an impressive panorama view of the city of Sapporo at night.
In the morning we will return to visit the ice sculptures of the snow festival of Sapporo, this time in daylight. At about 12 o’clock we will take a train to Otaru, a port town located 30 minutes from Sapporo. We will eat Hokkaido’s fresh fish at a popular market in the city. Afterwards we will stroll through the famous canal area with its red brick warehouses. We will also visit a sake cellar where we can witness part of the production process of this Japanese “rice wine”. Then, we will return to the canal area, since at that time thousands of candles illuminate the snowed streets. We will have a dinner in this romantic area and will return by train to Sapporo for sleep.
From this day we will travel with our private bus. We will leave Sapporo to the town of Biei, where we will have lunch. Afterwards we will drive through the famous snow-capped hills of Biei. We will go through very beautiful and artistic minimalist landscapes. At dusk we will approach to a frozen lake with trees sticking out of the frozen surface of the water. As soon as it gets dark, the light show begins, in which the frozen lake with trees constantly transforms its beauty according to the illumination of each moment. From there we will head to the hotel-ryokan to bathe in hot springs, dine kaiseki food and relax in a traditional Japanese room with tatamis.
In the morning, we will visit a frozen waterfall nearby the hotel. Then we will start our trip to Furano. We will photograph fields and rivers covered with snow. We will head for Lake Kanayama to eat in a western restaurant located in a wooden house with a wonderful view. After lunch we will go to Tomamu Resort, a hotel complex with ski slopes, igloo bar, indoor swimming pool with warm water, etc. An ideal place to relax, enjoy, and take photos at once. We will spend the night here.
From Tomamu on the way to Akan we will pass by Tokachi, an area of ranches, where we will find a photogenic long icy road with rows of white birch trees. Then we will proceed to Akan International Crane Center. We will have lunch near the center. In the center we will be able to observe and photograph the dance of the Japanese red-crowned cranes in the middle of nature, one of the greatest attractions of Hokkaido for wild life lovers. In the evening we will arrive at Lake Akan, check in and have dinner at the hotel. Akan is known for having the largest number of the population of Ainu people, the native people of Hokkaido. After dinner we will see fireworks on the frozen lake of Akan, then go to see a traditional Ainu dance. Upon returning of a long day, we can relax in the hot springs of the hotel.
From Akan we will head to Kusharoko, another large lake surrounded by mountains. Here we will find a large number of swans on the shore where hot springs are coming out. If you want, you will be able to bathe in an outdoor hot spirng bath just in front of the shore with the swans! We will eat Ramen in a famous ramen restaurant on the way to Mount Io, the most sulphurous mountain in Japan. Columns of smoke rise from the rocky ground despite the snow, and the smell of sulfur permeates everything. It is a surreal and mystical place. And from there we’ll head to one of our favorite ryokans from all over Japan, a hidden gem in the Nakashibetsu area. We will arrive there early to enjoy the hotel with its indoor and outdoor baths and a spectacular Kaiseki dinner. At night, if we are lucky we will be able to photograph the local owls.
In the morning we will drive to the Notsuke Peninsula, where we can probably see some wild animals as well as a lonely landscape. From there we will go to the Shiretoko Peninsula and we will eat in the town of Rausu. After lunch, we will catch a boat that will take us to the sea filled with drift ice and photograph white-tailed eagles or Steller’s sea eagles on top of the ice and intact landscapes of the Shiretoko Peninsula. After the one hour cruise, we will take a walk around the port and the town, then we will approach to a wild outdoor onsen (hot spring) for those who wish to take a bath in the open air. We will arrive early to the hotel to have dinner and to sleep, since the next day some of us are going to get up early (optional).
For those who wish to see or photograph the sunrise on the floating ice of the ocean and the eagles again with more time, we will start the day at 5 in the morning. Just after dawn we will take a boat specially designed for photographers who want to take good pictures more calmly and more closely. This expedition is optional and it is not included in the price of the trip. After checking out the hotel and the cruise, we will head towards the town of Utoro, another side of Shiretoko Peninsula. In Utoro, we will make a two-hour-long snow walk and most likely we will find deers that we can photograph at a very close distance. We will take advantage of the beautiful wild landscape to photograph the sunset. We will dine and sleep in a hotel in Utoro. Here we will enjoy our last hot spring bath!
The last day, we will wake up very early to live a unique experience. We will wear a special neoprene drysuit to walk on the drift ice on the sea (this activity will depend on whether or not there is drift ice near the seashore on that day). On the way to Abashiri we will photograph the landscape of this part of the sea of Ojotsk and finally we will take another boat to photograph the drift ice that arrives to the coasts of Hokkaido from Russia. After the excursion by boat we will eat there and we will go to Abashiri airport to catch a flight back to Tokyo.
Eating and sleeping in Japan is not a mere process, quite the opposite. Traditional food and accommodation is a very important part of the Japanese experience, as well as of the photographic work.
We will combine nights in ryokans with nights in western hotels. Ryokan, traditional Japanese style inn, with tatami room, kaiseki food and thermal baths, offers a myriad of photographic opportunities, from the beauty of the dishes to the minimalist aesthetics of the rooms. Whether they are traditional Japanese inns or western hotels, they are all medium-high and high class accomodations, and some of them have thermal baths in their facilities to relax at the end of the day.
The rooms will be twin room (with two beds), so participants who come alone will share a room with another single participant. There might be some nights with a single room if twin rooms are not availble. If you wish to stay in a single room for the whole trip, you must pay a supplement. But single room might not be available in some of the accommodations.
Restaurants are carefully selected to enjoy the varieties of Japanese food from sophisticated kaisei to homemade local food. Not to be forced to eat the same things together, some of the meals are not included. If breakfast or lunch is not included, since we normally go to a restaurant together for breakfast or lunch, you just choose what you would like to eat and you pay for it. If dinner is not included, each person can choose a restaurant to dine. If you don’t want to look for a restaurant, you can also go to a restaurant where the tour leaders go, and you just pay for what you eat.
If anybody has allergy or food intolerance problems, or is a vegetarian, we will try to make the necessary changes in the menus when it is possible.
Once the first payment of the deposit has been made, these are the conditions of return of the deposit of the €1.000:
Once the full payment has been made, these are the return conditions of the remaining of € 2,990:
“Discover Hokkaido with Toru Morimoto and Tina Bagué, both professional photographers specializing in Japan. An adventure away from the crowds and tourist areas. Capture the true spirit of Japan!”
PRICE: € 3,990
DATES: from February 7 to February 15, 2018 (9 days)
SEATS: 6 to 10 participants
STATE: open to sign up
RESERVATION: send email to email@example.com
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