This 17 day tour takes you travelling from the subtropical Ryukyu Islands in the south west to Hokkaido in the north east with its strong Siberian influences, this is a great chance to explore Japan and its birds with an experienced and knowledgeable speaking guide. We visit many small islands each with its own endemics and also search for the many Palearctic migrants that visit Japan at this time of year.
There are some great seabirds to be seen and for true seabird enthusiasts we offer the Bonin Islands extension. The tour can be broken into 3 parts Honshu and the Ryukyus, Hokkaido and also the Bonin Islands.
Accommodation will vary from western style hotels as in Tokyo,to a more traditional Japanese guest-house or minshuku, at Lake Furen. Japanese culture is also a feature of the trip and we will be careful to observe the local etiquette. The food is also very distinct, with a fantastic selection of sauces for the fish, rice, and vegetable dishes which make up the traditional cuisine.
This is not a strenuous tour and participants need to be of only moderate fitness. You may wish to bring a walking stick as while the majority of birding will be done from the roadside, there will be some walking along some forest tracks in all of the areas we visit. Temperatures will vary throughout the trip and will also be affected by elevation. In Tokyo at this time of year you can expect daytime temperatures in the mid twenties while on the Ryukyus it will be nearer 30°C. On Hokkaido daytime temperature will be in the lower twenties dropping to 15° or 16°C at night so warm clothing is advised. On Honshu June marks the start of the rains however on the Rykyus the rains are coming to an end and on Hokkaido this time of year is usually dry.
2020 Tour Cost:
2020 Single Supplement:
Past Trip Reports
Click the links below to download past trip reports
2018 Trip Reports
- 16 nights accommodation
- Meals as itinerary (check PDF itinerary)
- Transport including fuel
- Guide services of the tour leader
- Site & entry fees
- Travel insurance and other emergencies
- Visa fees and entry clearing fees
- Flights (Domestic or International)
- Drinks & snacks
- Items of a personal nature
Day 1 - Arrive Tokyo
Arrive Tokyo. Tour starts with a welcome dinner that night in the hotel. If you arrive at Narita you will need to take the train over to Haneda to your Haneda hotel.
Day 2 - Shikoko & Kochi (1)
Take the morning flight over to Shikoko and drive to the Kochi area where the Fairy Pitta can be found. On a Sunday we also have a chance of the Copper Pheasant as they open a road once a week through an area where they are seen regularly. We will spend the balance of the day exploring the area and seeing what is around.
Day 3 - Shikoko & Kochi (2)
Full day in Shikoku area. An early start so that we are on the trails around dawn looking for the Fairy Pitta and then spend the day exploring the area looking for other migrants.
Day 4 - Haneda & Mt Fuji
Early morning around Kochi then fly back to Haneda where we travel up into the Mt Fuji area and start our exploration of the of the different altitudinal levels. Japanese Wagtail, Japanese Grosbeak, Brown Dipper, Japanese and Pygmy Woodpeckers are amongst the target birds for the day.
Day 5 - Mt Fuji & Lake Yamanakako
A full day exploring the forested slopes around Mt Fuji and Lake Yamanakako. Raptors such as Japanese Sparrowhawk and Oriental Honey Buzzard plus passerines such as Japanese Yellow Bunting, Eurasian Nutcracker, Red-flanked Bluetail, and Siberian Blue Robin will be amongst our targets today.
Day 6 - Tokyo & Miyake-jima boat trip
Morning around the Fuji area then head back towards Tokyo birding on the way. Late afternoon we will make our way over to the Takeshiba Pier and embark on our boat to Miyake-jima.
Day 7 - Explore Miyake-jima & return boat trip
Disembark from boat and explore Miyake-jima. We will be looking for the endemic Izu Island Thrush plus Ijima’s Leaf Warbler, Pieske’s Grasshopper Warbler, Chinese Bamboo Partridge and more. The return crossing to Tokyo is in daylight and we will be looking for Streaked and Short-tailed Shearwaters and perhaps Tristram’s Storm Petrel and more.
Day 8 - Fly to Amami
Today we fly to Amami in the subtropical Ryukyu Islands where there is a very different avifauna and some interesting endemics. These include the stunning Lidth’s Jay, the secretive Amami Woodcock plus the Amami Thrush. There is also a number of endemic subspecies including one for Ryukyu Robin and for the White-backed Woodpecker. A night drive may help us fine the Japanese Scops Owl and an endemic mammal - the Amami Black Rabbit.
Day 9 - Exploring Amami
The day will be spent exploring Amami for Scaly Thrush, Ruddy Kingfisher, Ryukyu Flycatcher, Whistling Green Pigeon, Japanese Paradise Flycatcher and more.
Day 10 - Fly to Okinawa
An early start to catch the flight over to Okinawa and transfer to our hotel where the shy Okinawa Rail, one of our target birds, can be found, with luck, in the hotel grounds. They can sometimes be found roosting in exposed bare branches out of reach of predators during a night drive on which we would also hope to see Ryukyu Scops Owl and Northern Boobook.
Day 11 - Okinawa area (1)
Okinawa Rail and Okinawa Woodpecker will be target species here. Neither are easy birds but there is plenty more to see as we look for them. These include Ryukyu Minivet and an endemic subspecies of Varied Tit. We will also be checking the shoreline for Greater Painted Snipe, Oriental Pratincole and White-breasted Waterhen as well as seabirds.
Day 12 - Okinawa area (1)
A second full day on Okinawa.
Day 13 - Fly Hokkaido
This morning we will fly north to Hokkaido. The least populated of Japans major islands, Hokkaido has large areas of forest, a windswept coastline and is an important agricultural area. Famous in winter for its large flocks of Red-crowned Cranes and Stellers Sea Eagle at this time of year the flocks have dispersed but we still hope to see some of these impressive birds. Most of our birding will take place in the north east of the island.
Day 14 - Hokkaido (1)
Full day birding Hokkaido looking for the Cranes, the Sea Eagles and Blakiston’s Fish Owl.
Day 15 - Hokkaido (2)
The coastal headlands around Furen are home to large breeding colonies of seabirds including Pelagic and Red-faced Cormorants. The grassy headlands with patches of dwarf bamboo are often good for Lanceolated and Middendorf’s Grasshopper Warbler, Siberian Rubythroat and more.
Day 16 - Hokkaido (3)
This morning, weather permitting we will take a pelagic to look for some of the more exciting of Hokkaido’s seabirds including Spectacled and Pigeon Guillemots, Thick-billed and Common Murres, Tufted Puffin, Ancient Murrelet, Rhinoceros Auklet and more. Later in the day we will be looking for migrants in the nearby forests.
Day 17 - Fly to Kushiro and onto Tokyo
Today we finish our birding on Hokkaido and head back to Kushiro and on our early afternoon flight back to Tokyo Haneda Airport and onward connections.