Other Information

Find my trip

Currency Location:

Journey to the East, featuring Sapporo Snow Festival & Eastern Hokkaido


Journey to the East is a 7-day discovery to the truly remote, undiscovered, hidden parts of Eastern Hokkaido.

“A week-long discovery to the truly unknown and hidden parts of Eastern Hokkaido,
 featuring Sapporo Snow Festival, Red Crowned Crane Sanctuary, Lake Akan, Unesco World Heritage Shiretoko Peninsula and Abashiri Drift Ice Festival & Cruise.”

Hokkaido’s unspoiled natural beauty makes it a haven for outdoor lovers and nature enthusiasts. Among its vast national parks and lakes, you will come across an abundance of wildlife. Its most famous include the symbolic and endangered Red-Crowned Crane, wild bear, red fox, and giant eagles. Enjoy some coastal explorations in search of dolphins, whales and sea lions. Visit lakes set in volcano calderas. Learn about the indigenous Ainu people. Relax in open-air hot spring baths. Savour on Japan’s freshest and tastiest seafood and culinary treats. These are just some of the encounters you can expect on this incredible journey through Eastern Hokkaido.

Categories: ,
Duration: 7 Nights / 8 Days Winter Tour
Route: Sapporo (2) ➞ Kushiro (1) ➞ Lake Akan (2) ➞ Shiretoko (1) ➞ Abashiri (1)

Prices and Inclusions

AccommodationSelection of Western 3/4* (3 nights in 4*, 1 night in 3*) and Superior Japanese-style ryokans (3 nights with hot springs and traditional Japanese evening meals)
English Speaking Tour LeaderWhen 6 or more are on the group you will be escorted by our English speaking tour leader. If your group is less than 6 people, you will be doing the tour on a semi-escorted basis (Met in each area by our local assistants and guides).
Transfers Airport transfers (on arrival from Sapporo to your hotel). Chartered vehicles & express train journeys in Eastern Hokkaido.
Local Tour GuidesLocal English speaking tour guides in places
Entrance Fees
Included for all sights listed on the itinerary
Cultural ExperiencesSapporo Snow Festival & sightseeing, the endangered Red-Crowned Crane sanctuary and viewing spot, overnight stays in traditional ryokans, open-air hot spring baths, sightseeing at Lake Akan / Lake Kussharo / Lake Mashu, an Ainu culture show, Abashiri Drift-Ice cruise (subject to drift-ice conditions), Abashiri prison museum, amazing scenic drives, and more.
Meals Breakfast daily & 3 evening meals
Other Inclusions:
  • Comprehensive Travel Pack
  • Local Emergency Contact
  • All Taxes & Accommodation Surcharges
  • Fixed Price Policy
  • Minimum 6 / Maximum 16 people
  • No hidden Costs!!
This package does not include:
  • Flights [Arrange own flights – Always check the arrival date on your flight e.g. if flying from Europe/US, you will arrive into Tokyo the following day (depending on airline you use)]
  • Meals other than those specified in the itinerary. Generally, you can expect to pay 1,000yen for lunches and anything from 2,500yen for your evening meals.
  • Beverages consumed at any meal (Water served freely)
  • Baggage Handling (You are requested to carry your own bags so be careful when packing! Your guide will help you arrange luggage forwarding on some journeys by the reliable ‘Takkyubin Service’)
  • Tour Leader Or Driver Gratuity – can be arranged among your group (Optional)


Dates: Tour Dates (limited to one tour a year due to festival times)
2020 Tour: February 03– 10
Duration: 7 Nights / 8 Days Winter Tour
Starts: Sapporo
Ends: Abashiri
Route: Sapporo (2) ➞ Kushiro (1) ➞ Lake Akan (2) ➞ Shiretoko (1) ➞ Abashiri (1)
Tour Type: Fully Escorted (6 or more people) or Semi-Escorted (less than 6 people)
Prices from: EUR2,800/ GBP2,550 / USD3,272 / AUD6,150 (Per Person Sharing Twin/Triple Rooms)
Single room EUR3,585 / GBP3,250 / USD4,175 / AUD7,550 (Solo travellers have the option to share a twin room with fellow traveller if available)
Accommodation Category: Superior Ryokans & Western Combined

Tour Highlights

Journey to the East - Highlights Video

Sapporo Snow Festival

Hokkaido’s capital Sapporo: a city transformed with magical winter splendor by one of the world’s grandest and most loved snow festivals. A shining spectacle of giant sculptures awaits, with a festive atmosphere and wonder that changes from day into sparkling night.

Sunrise at the Red-Crowned Crane Sanctuary

Kushiro, also known as “the Town of the Mist”, is situated in the southeastern part of Hokkaido, facing the Pacific Ocean. Akan Tancho is known as the site of the first successful artificial breeding of Japanese red-crowned cranes or tancho.

The red-crowned crane is an iconic creature. A symbol of good fortune, long life and loyalty, it has been designated a special national monument. It is also one of the largest East Asian cranes and one of the rarest in the world. Enjoy watching these deeply symbolic birds from the best observation spots on the island.

Abashiri Drift-Ice Festival & Ice-Breaker Cruise

Abashiri is a city of 40,000 people, famous for its drift ice, prison museum, and Lake Tofutsu. Abashiri Prison was built in the late nineteenth century to hold especially dangerous criminals. The Abashiri Prison Museum provides a fascinating insight into the hard lives and difficult daily conditions that inmates faced.

We will round off our tour in this charming northeastern city just as it’s gearing up for the annual Okhotsk Drift Ice Festival: a rare chance to celebrate the awesome beauty and power of nature in the North.

Stunning Lakes & Mystical Views

The beautiful caldera lake of Lake Kussharo has a circumference that runs 57 kilometres long, and dotted around its edges are several outdoor hot spring baths or onsen. Sunayu beach is another highlight, its sandy beach hiding hot spring water beneath. Scoop out some sand and soak your feet in the natural hot spring waters. The sulfur-filled Mt Iou rises 512 meters above sealevel and boasts over 1,500 volcanic craters. The local specialty of steamed eggs heated over volcanic fumes are a must try. Finally, Lake Mashu is another of Akan National Park’s stunning caldera lakes. Mashuko, as it is called, is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in Japan and is appreciated for its clear blue water. It is also famous for the heavy fog which frequently blankets i


Day 1 - Meet us in Sapporo

Make your own way to Sapporo International Airport where you will be met by our local Sapporo staff. If you need help booking flights to Sapporo, please ask one of our team.

After checking into your hotel, you will have time to enjoy the sparkling splendour that is the Sapporo Snow Festival by day & night: the giant snow and ice sculptures illuminated.

Tonight we will visit a local restaurant/izakaya and try some of the very famous crab dishes. Don’t worry, if you are not a fish eater, there will be options!

Accommodation: Sapporo Nikko Hotel

Day 2 - Free Day in Sapporo or Day Trip to Canal city of Otaru

Breakfast at your hotel.

Enjoy a full day’s exploration in Sapporo during the much-loved Snow Festival. Over 60 international teams compete to build the most impressive snow and ice sculptures, some of which reach over 15m in height. The city’s atmosphere is festive, with hot food stalls and pop-up ice-bars lining the streets to cater to the 2 million visitors (double the city population!) that flock to see this spectacular winter festival.

Make the most of the many options to keep you entertained in Sapporo city (and some of the best seafood & beer in the world) with one more night at your city hotel before leaving the next morning to visit the winter wilderness of Japan’s northernmost island.

Or, if you prefer to leave the snow sculptures, why not visit the very pretty town of Otaru. Your tour leader will give you best advice and options.

Accommodation: Sapporo Nikko Hotel

Day 3 - Scenic train journey east to Kushiro

Breakfast at your hotel.

Travel by train to Kushiro on Hokkaido’s east coast (a journey of about 4 hours).

HIGHLIGHT: Kushiro Shitsugen for your first experience of the wonderful red-crowned cranes. This sanctuary has large fenced in areas with pairs of birds to encourage breeding and provides a perfect chance to photograph the birds up close.

Accommodation:  Kushiro Ana Crown Plaza hotel (or similar)

Day 4 Sunrise to Sunset, stunning winter scenery

HIGHLIGHT: Sunrise with Tancho Cranes at Setsuri River

Set out early to witness a magical sunrise with hundreds of red-crowned cranes gathered together in the river. The Setsuri-gawa River is where the Red-crowned cranes roost in winter and the nearby pastures are their feeding grounds. Rise early and seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to take in a spectacular northern sunrise in the company of the majestic Tancho Cranes at Setsuri-gawa River. Later, your tour leader will take you to explore the scenic Akan National Park and its many wonders.

HIGHLIGHT: Lake Mashu area sightseeing

You will visit an elevated viewing spot on Lake Mashu (tea break, pay locally) to witness whooper swans in a natural onsen alongside the frozen lake. After check-in at the luxurious Tsuruga Wings Hotel (or similar), enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet dinner with all manner of Japanese and western dishes (drinks separate) before experiencing one of the best onsen hot springs baths in all of Japan.

EVENING HIGHLIGHT: Traditional Ainu Performance

After onsen, make your way to the local Ainu hall where you can visualise this authentic performance featuring traditional dress, language and dance.

Accommodation: Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings (Japanese Style)

Day 5 - Relax and Meet the Marimo at Lake Akan

Breakfast at your hotel

Today you will spend the day touring Lake Akan and surrounding areas. The stunningly scenic mountain drives will take you to Lake Kussharo for spectacular photographic opportunities of expansive winter landscapes vistas.

Dinner and onsen at your hotel always a highlight!

• Sunayu – Swans
• Mt. Iou
• Tea Break (pay locally)

Accommodation: Accommodation: Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings (Japanese Style)

Day 6: Discover the breathtaking Shiretoko National Park

Breakfast at your hotel.

Today you will explore one of the most remote regions in all of Japan, eastern Hokkaido’s Shiretoko Peninsula. Shiretoko National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to huge variety of wildlife, including brown bears, deer, winter red foxes and eagles. Sightseeing boat cruises are a great way to take in the rugged coastline of the Shiretoko Peninsula. They also provide an excellent opportunity to see brown bears who often stalk the rocky beaches of the coast. You might also see sea animals such as dolphins, whales and sea lions

HIGHLIGHT: Shiretoko Winter Boat Cruise or Drift-Ice Walking / Snow-Shoeing

Enjoy dinner & hot spring at hotel (included)

Accommodation: Shiretoko Dai-Ichi Hotel (or similar)

Day 7 - Abashiri, home of the Okhotsk Drift Ice Festival

Breakfast at your hotel before transferring with private driver and guide to Abashiri on the northeastern coast.

This is another epic drive through stunning mountain vistas, with stops at certain scenic points for photo opportunities in the expansive natural winter landscape. Enjoy lunch upon arrival and an afternoon of sightseeing around the city amidst the hustle and bustle of 2019’s Abashiri Drift Ice Festival.

HIGHLIGHT: Abashiri Area Sightseeing

  • Abashiri Prison Museum
  • Abashiri Drift Ice Cruise

Accommodation: 3* Western Hotel

Day 8 - Tour Ends in Abashiri

Breakfast at your hotel.

There are a number of options for you from now which you should consider, as part of your overall trip to Hokkaido, Japan.

Option 1: Continue on to Niseko or Furano to enjoy the snow. Ski/Snow board for an extra 3-5 days.

Option 2: As you have already been to the Sapporo Snow Festival, we have removed the Asahikawa Fesitval from our itinerary. If you are feel like seeing more snow sculputeres, then take a train to Asahikawa for their Winter Festival. Arrangements can be made though us.

Option 3: Travel to Memanbetsu Airport for your return flight to Tokyo, Osaka, or somewhere else in Japan. Consult with us before you plan your post tour journey. Expect to pay approx, 20,000JPY for your flight onto the mainland.

Option 4: Depart Japan on your international flight from Sapporo Int’l Airport. The journey to Sapporo will be by train. Details will be provided by us in advance.

Which ever option you prefer, our team are ready to assist. You will have experienced the best of Eastern Hokkaido which we are satisfied you will not be disappointed.

How to Book

Step 1: Pay booking deposit 250 Euro (or equivalent)

By paying your deposit today, we secure your place on this chosen small group tour. You will be sent a receipt of payment on the following business day (Mon-Fri). All online deposits are refundable up to 7 days after payment has been made through this website.

[Booking Terms and Conditions]


Step 2: Book Your Flight

Once you have secured your place on our tour, you should book your flight to Japan from your home country. To find the best available routes and flights, check out skyscanner.com.



Step 3: Manage your Booking

Once deposit is paid, log into your secure Unique Japan Tours Travel Portal. Check your documents and fill out as much information as possible, to ensure we give you the best service possible (dietary requirements, passport info, flight details, and so on). This travel portal can also be used to make payments towards your tour (installments are permitted).


Step 4: Receive your Essential Travel Pack

All of our clients receive an Essential Travel Pack which is sent to your home address (worldwide) 2-3 weeks before your departure date. If your starting date is less than 2 weeks, you will receive it on arrival in Japan. All documents will be sent via email in advance also.


Step 4: See you on Day 1 in Japan!

Got a Question?

Have a few questions before booking your tour to Japan? Please fill out this form and one of our Japan travel consultants will get right back to you.

  • Please include your country prefix (eg Ireland is +353)
  • We will find the closest date available for you. Or select actual date of the tour if you know it.
  • This form collects your details above so we can contact you back in relation to your enquiry. Please see our privacy policy for more information.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Total price of this tour

2,800 per person

16 in stock

Pay a deposit of 250 per item
WooCommerce Themes Free