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JAPAN 2020

Hokkaido Winter Festivals & Snow Monkeys Tour

This tour is fully booked

(the original & most comprehensive )

15 Days = 1 to 15 February, 2020

Sunrise 2 Day, 3Days, 4Days highlight Short Guided Tour


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  2. 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.

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  2. 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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.


Winter Festivals, Ice Sculptures, Snow Castles

This is the only escorted tour on the market that will take you to see Five Winter Festivals in Japan’s northern most island of Hokkaido …. Asahikawa Winter Festival; Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival; Lake Abashiri Ice Fishing, Monbetsu Winter Festival and the Sapporo Snow Festival. Additional ice sculptures will also be seen at Lake Akan Winter Festival.

Each destination has been chosen so that you will see the biggest variety of winter scenes including an international ice sculpture competition. You will see real igloos made of ice and ice castles illuminated from inside at night, beautiful scenes of nature, forests, mountains and marshlands covered in snow and you can even go walking on the frozen lakes.

Something for everyone

This is a small group escorted tour for those people who enjoy nature and want to do something completely different.

Take an Ice Breaker cruise through the drift ice from the port of Abashiri. Here resting on the floating bergs of pack ice in the Sea of Okhotsk, drifting down from the Arctic, you could see Northern Fur Seals andSteller`s Sea Eagles on the lookout for a feed. For any of our warm climate friends, this is a perfect opportunity for some great photos that nobody else back home will have.

Unusual and just for fun events on this tour will be a steam train ride across the snow covered fields around Kushiro Marsh, try your hand at Ice Fishing on a frozen lake and go for a Snowmobile ride across a frozen lake. You will also visit the wood craft shops of the Ainu people of Hokkaido at Lake Akan, discover the historic relics of the ancient Ainu and see an amazing variety of fresh seafood on display at Kushiro Fish Market.

Bird watching , Nature & National Parks

February is an excellent month for bird observing of the Japanese Red-crowned Crane as well as Steller’s Sea Eagle, Whooper Swan and Bewick Swan .

We will be visiting Kushiro Marsh, a RAMSAR protected site, where local ornithology experts and members of the Japan Wild Bird Society will show us the best locations for birdwatching that day. Northern Pintails, Great Spotted and Japanese Pygmy Woodpeckers, White-tailed Eagle, Goldeneye and Harlequin Ducks could also be found as we look around various locations.

Mingle with the famous Snow Monkeys and take your own photos of these most photogenic primate families. We can even take your photo in the wild, with the Snow Monkeys.

We will also take you by Snowtrack personnel carrier on Mt Zao, to see the ‘Juhyo’ Snow Monsters – trees covered in snow, sculpted into form by moisture laden freezing wind.

Deluxe accommodation and private charter coach

Comfortable warm Hotels have been chosen for your enjoyment and Japanese Ryokans guarantee twin-share accommodation, traditional dining experiences, therapeutic spa baths and excellent locations. We have included a mixture of both Japanese style bedrooms with traditional futon beds as well as other nights in familiar western style hotels with regular beds. Whilst staying at our traditional Japanese style accommodation you can relax in the hot volcanic spring baths that are reputed to cure all ailments from muscle pain to insomnia. Take your camera to the open air baths, for a photo of yourself in the hot garden spa pool surrounded by snow.

Touring will be in a private charter bus even though we will only be accepting about 10 guests . Our private charter coach will take you beyond the reach of public transport. We will take you to wonderful picturesque and exciting places that other companies have never heard of.

Fine food, traditional Japanese cuisine, barbecues & buffet dinners

Breakfasts are included daily with a fine range of food from fresh cooked omelettes, sausage, bacon and fruit to cereal, toast and preserves. Try a selection of delightfully presented traditional Japanese dishes, miso soup, smoked fish, pickled vegetables and kelp with rice… just for a change.

Many dinners are included in this tour, with something different every night. In a private dining room with chandeliers reflecting on mirrored walls we enjoy an evening of Japanese French Cuisine. On other nights we enjoy a real charcoal barbecue, a Mongolian barbecue, traditional Japanese cuisine banquets and a buffet dinner with all the Spider Crab you can eat. Japan is a seafood lovers paradise.

Fully Escorted by the Japan travel experts who created this tour.

You will be accompanied throughout this tour by Mrs Mayumi Gray, your professional Japanese / English Translator and Tour Manager. Mayumi has led our last 13 successful Ice Festivals and Nature Tours, which attracted guests from UK, USA, NZ, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.

For the past 25 years Mayumi has been researching new destinations, personally inspecting accommodation, designing, creating and operating this and other highly successful and popular tours to Japan.

All your transportation is pre arranged and Mayumi will be with you every day to make sure that you cannot get lost. Our private charter coach is the most efficient way for you to enjoy all these attractions in just nine days.

This tour is fully booked

Tour includes

  • 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


1 FEB 2020 – 15 FEB 2020

This tour is fully booked


Travel Insurance: It is a condition of travel on this tour that you possess appropriate comprehensive travel insurance.

Not Included: Additional sightseeing and entry fees, transfers, passport, excess baggage charges, laundry, tips, porterage, travel insurance, hotel service other than bed only, items of a personal nature, drinks and beverages.

Tour Changes: Modifications to the daily programme may occur due to weather, unforeseen circumstances, unexpected business commitments by our hosts or changes to accommodation, airline or other transportation schedules and equipment. Winter weather conditions in Japan are totally unpredictable with very heavy snowfall, blizzards, blue cloudless sky, bright sunny days, -17 to + 10 degrees C temperatures, blocked roads and closed airports.

This is NOT a common tourist bus tour, but a soft adventure of a lifetime. If you are not willing to accept whatever Japan presents to you, can not cope well with unexpected changes, have health problems or have dietary limitations, you might like to choose an alternative tour. By paying your money for this tour you are agreeing to accept these conditions.