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Journey to the East, featuring the Sapporo Snow Festival

Prices from 3,250

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, & Asahikawa Winter Festival”

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.

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SKU: N/ACategory:
Duration: 7 Nights / 8 Days Fully Escorted Winter Tour
Route: Tokyo - Sapporo (2) ➞ Kushiro (1) ➞ Lake Akan (2) ➞ Shiretoko (1) ➞ Abashiri (1) ➞ Tokyo or Osaka

Prices and Inclusions

AccommodationSelection of Western 4* (4 nights) 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 Return internal flights to/from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and Hokkaido; 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, 2 lunches & 2 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:
  • International Flights [Arrange own flights into and out of Tokyo’s Haneda or Narita Airports – 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 tour leader 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)
2019 Tour: February 04th – 11th
Duration: 7 Nights / 8 Days Fully Escorted Winter Tour
Starts: Tokyo or Sapporo
Ends: Tokyo or Osaka
Route: Tokyo - Sapporo (2) ➞ Kushiro (1) ➞ Lake Akan (2) ➞ Shiretoko (1) ➞ Abashiri (1) ➞ Tokyo or Osaka
Tour Type: Fully Escorted (6 or more people) or Semi-Escorted (less than 6 people) with domestic flight, private vehicle and train transfers
Prices from: EUR3,250 / GBP2,750 / USD3,865 / AUD5,000 (Per Person Sharing Twin/Triple Rooms)
Single room EUR3,650 / GBP3,100 / USD4,365 / AUD5,750 (1 Person with own Single Room throughout)
Accommodation Category: Superior Western & Japanese Style Hotels throughout

Tour Highlights

Journey to the East - Highlights Video

Sapporo Snow Festival

After touching down in Tokyo, we will hop on a short flight up to 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.

Traditional Evening Performance by indigenous Ainu people near Lake Akan

Abashiri Drift-Ice Festival & Ice-Breaker Cruise

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.


Journey to the East

Day 1 - Fly from Tokyo to Sapporo

Meet your group and tour guide to travel together from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport to Sapporo (duration 1 hour approx.). Check into your Sapporo hotel.

HIGHLIGHT: Free time to enjoy the sparkling splendour that is the Sapporo Snow Festival at night: the giant snow and ice sculptures illuminated. Your tour leader will be ready to take you out!


Accommodation: Tokyu Hotel Sapporo (or similar 4*)

Day 2 - Experience Sapporo Snow Festival

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.

Accommodation: Tokyu Hotel Sapporo (or similar 4*)

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. Then after breakfast proceed with your driver and guide to the International Crane Centre for a final chance to photograph and video these fabulous birds.

HIGHLIGHT: Lake Kussharo & 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, 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: Fireworks & 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 before transferring with private driver and guide to Abashiri on the Eastern coast of Hokkaido.

This drive is a stunningly scenic mountain drive (much like the day before) and there will be stop-offs at Lake Kussharo to visit the whooper swans again and at certain scenic points along the drive to take photos in front of expansive winter landscapes vistas.

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

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

Day 6: Discover the breathtaking Shiretoko National Park

Breakfast at your hotel.

Transfer to the Unesco World Heritage Shiretoko Peninsula by chartered vehicle.

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

  • Lunch at Local Restaurant (pay locally)
  • Lake Tofutsu
  • Abashiri Prison Museum
  • Abashiri Drift Ice Cruise

Accommodation: Hokuten No Oka Lake Abashiri Tsuruga Resort (Japanese Style)

Day 8 - Travel Back to the Mainland

Breakfast at your hotel.

Travel to Memanbetsu Airport for your return flight to Tokyo Haneda or any other domestic airport in Japan (consult with us before you plan your post tour journey).

Tour ends at Tokyo Haneda or other agreed airport. We will happily arrange your post-tour itinerary also. Enquire with our consultants.

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!

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Total price of this tour

Prices from 3,250 per person

Pay a deposit of 250 per item
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