Arrive: Tokyo, Japan
Depart: Sapporo, Japan
Pricing below is per person and based on double occupancy. The earlier you book, the more choice you’ll have. WT also has the most generous cancellation and transfer policies in the industry, we make it easy if you change your mind. Have a small group of your own? Take over an existing date or choose your own. You’ll have your own private guide–and the adventure–all to yourselves!
$600 due at time of reservation
90 days prior to departure: Balance
Up to 91 days prior to departure: No Charge!
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost
Scroll through our signature accommodations for this trip below. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.
Day 1 (1 night)
Days 2-3 (2 nights)
Days 4-5 (2 nights)
Days 6-7 (2 nights)
Days 8-9 (2 nights)
Day 10 (1 night)
Wilderness Travel Trip Leaders have a passion and a joy for creating an unforgettable journey. We are extremely proud of them and the incredible travel experiences they make possible. For more information, including client comments about them and which specific trips they will be leading, please click on their profiles below.
We will be walking on a possibly snowy pathway for about a mile each way to see the snow monkeys. Warm, waterproof boots are necessary for this, plus warm, waterproof jackets, gloves, and hats for our time in Hokkaido. Our day at the Sapporo Snow Festival is spent walking on possibly snowy or icy boulevards during the day as well as in the evening. We spend our time at Kushiro visiting crane sanctuaries, with some outdoor walking as well as a boat trip on an open raft on our trip through the marsh. Our time at Lake Akan includes an evening visit to the frozen lake festivities, again walking on icy, snowy roads. Though our days should see temperatures in the mid-30s, it can be quite cold in Hokkaido in the winter, with temperatures dropping to below freezing and even possibly to zero Fahrenheit. We travel by train and charter bus, so layers work well.
Though not physically difficult in terms of hiking, this trip can be challenging in other ways. The possibly very cold weather (and possibility of rain instead of snow) can make things uncomfortable for those who are not dressed properly, and the weather can even cause us to change our plans. A flexible nature and readiness to absorb and enjoy the culture are necessary for enjoyment of this trip, but the rewards are many!
Although not physically demanding, the trip will yield greater rewards if you are in good physical condition and able to stay on your feet for 6-7 hours per day. Please remember, we will be sleeping on futons and eating at floor level, so it is important that you are able to sit down on and get up off the floor without much difficulty.
Japan is a blend of the traditional and modern, and our trip encompasses this unique mixture. We will stay at traditional ryokans as well as Japanese-style hotels. The quiet world of the ryokan is a venerable cultural institution—a way to experience a simple, timeless way of life. After being warmly welcomed, we trade our street shoes for slippers. Once inside, we remove our slippers as we step onto the finely woven tatami mats covering our sleeping room floors. Our rooms are spacious and pleasant with low tables and comfortable futon mattresses with quilts and blankets. Some of our rooms will have attached toilets; at other times, we share the "down the hall" facilities. Although a few ryokans have baths in the rooms, most have an ofuro (a Japanese-style bath). Note: Single travelers will share accommodations at the ryokans.
Normally, a fresh cotton yukata (robe) is provided for each guest. These light kimonos can be worn anywhere in and around the ryokan and we often wear them to meals (make sure to wear the left side over the right). For many of our breakfasts and dinners, beautifully presented meals are served as we sit on the floor at low tables on our tatami mats. Please note that many of the meals at ryokans are already set menus.
A highlight of any visit to Japan is its superb cuisine defined by fresh ingredients and artful presentation. We will have ample opportunity to sample both familiar and new dishes. We will sample many types of Japanese food, and usually the first "bite" is with our eyes, the presentation being a tantalizing array of fresh fish, beef, vegetables, tofu, miso soup and, of course, rice, all served on individual plates and bowls of exquisite sizes, patterns, and proportions. We eat with chopsticks and are usually seated at low tables on the floor. During our stay at ryokans, a set menu is offered for dinner. At some ryokans, you may choose between a Japanese breakfast of fish, rice, miso soup, tofu, vegetables, pickled condiments and tea, or a western breakfast consisting of eggs, toast, salad, and coffee. Many places, however, offer only Japanese food.
Keep in mind that Japanese food is very different from what we are used to, and with the limited availability of American foods, your food intake will be a big part of the Japanese adventure. Please note that gluten-free cuisine will not be available, as Japanese food is often prepared with soy sauce and miso as a dressing, a paste, or a seasoning.
You will have all lunches and some dinners on your own, allowing you ample opportunity to sample the endless variety of Japanese food. When we are traveling, we may try an obento (box lunch), and we sample the snack foods of Japan and/or get a bowl of udon, ramen, or soba (noodles) at one of the local spots. Napkins are not used except at western-style restaurants; bring your own handkerchief.
Given our locations, and true in most of Japan, choices of foods are not given. If you have dietary restrictions or allergies please check with us before booking. Our typical dinner hour is 7:00 pm, although we may eat earlier to accommodate early rising days. Most accommodations offer chairs and tables for meals, although in your traditional rooms and for one or two dinners, we will be sitting on the floor. Japanese rooms have comfortable futons at floor level for sleeping. There may not be a chair or raised table in the room.
In Japan, bathing is a time honored tradition, a relaxing daily event. While staying in our ryokans, we will bathe as the Japanese do—using the ofuro system. In separate men and women's sides, the custom is to wash and rinse before entering the ofuro, a large tub of hot water where we can sit back with legs extended, submerged to the neck (this trip is not for the very modest!). Early Shinto was a religion of cleanliness and purification. Ritualistic bathing began during this time and has been perfected over the centuries. Either as a divine imperative or a luxury, bathing in Japan has always been regarded as more than a hygienic chore. The ofuro is the perfect way to finish a hectic day of travel. After a relaxing bath, we gather for the evening meal.
"The trip to Hokkaido was wonderful. We had been waiting a long time to go on this trip and were not disappointed. A great itinerary, excellent trip leaders and plenty of cultural and wildlife experiences."
Half Moon Bay, CA
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Our Area Specialists know every detail about our tours. They will be happy to answer any questions and help you choose the journey that’s right for you. Contact us to learn more or book your trip today!
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With more than 200 different adventures to choose from, we want to help you find the trip that’s right for you. Our Trip Level system ranks each trip in two ways: a number rating from 1 to 6 according to the activity, and general travel rigors. 1 is the easiest and 6+ the most difficult—see descriptions below for explanations of each number. A plus (+) sign means the trip is a bit more strenuous than other trips of that level. The detailed explanation of each trip—below the bar with the number rating—is perhaps more important, specifying activities, altitudes, hiking, and travel conditions. The Detailed Itinerary, available by download or mail, gives further information. Our Area Managers can also answer questions and guide you to the trip that best suits your interests.
Level 1 – Easiest
Non-camping journeys, optional walks, little elevation gain or loss.
Level 3 – Moderate
Half- to full-day hikes (3-6 hours) over rolling countryside on most days, occasional steep trails. Many of our hotel-based walking tours are in this category, as are our snorkeling adventures.
Level 5 – Strenuous
Full-day hikes (4-8 hours), mountainous, steep terrain (hiking up or down as much as 3,500 feet) on many days. Trips with hiking at average altitudes of 10,000 to 12,000 feet are in this category.