Cool animals, crisp locations

Japan Winter Wildlife

Join us, in conjunction with Natures Images, in Japan’s winter wonderland. This stunning country offers iconic wildlife such as the snow monkeys, bathing in thermal pools, the majestic courtship display of the red-crowned cranes and stellar’s sea eagles on Hokkaido's off-shore pack ice. Add in the search for red fox, and maybe a sighting of the illusive serow, and this trip aims to be one to remember.

Group Size: 12 guests, 2 guides

Our Japanese winter workshop accommodates 12 guests. With two guides on hand, that ensures we can help you get the very best from your experience.

Days Away: 14

This trip covers a wide variety of locations across our time away. From the hot springs of Nagano to the drift ice off Hokkaido's Rausu shoreline. Add in the culture experience of the country itself and there's never a dull moment.

Fitness Level: Low (briefly medium)

There is very little difficult walking involved, with the exception of the snow monkeys, where a 40 minute walk is required. This walk is partly uphill and typically icy.

All Experience Levels Welcome

This Japan winter wildlife workshop is suitable for all levels of photographer. There are generally no tricky shooting scenarios involved.


Rooms will be based on twin room basis depending on which hotel we are based. All accommodation is typically comfortable, varying in style between traditional and western. A limited number of single supplements may be available upon request.

Clothing and Temperatures

Very cold weather clothing is essential. It is not uncommon to expect temperatures as low as -25 during some portions of our time in Japan.

This workshop is coming soon. Please see the bottom of the page for more details on date notification and waiting list.

Your workshop guides

Richard Peters is an ambassador for both Nikon and Datacolor with a style that is well known for capturing dramatic light, alongside having a friendly and down to earth manner. His work has been internationally acclaimed, including as a category winner in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, and is one of the only British photographers to be named European Wildlife Photographer of the year. Richard has been a judge for many competitions, including the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the British Wildlife Photography Awards plus, been a keynote speaker to many industry events, from close to home in the UK to as far afield as Australia.

Ellie Rothnie is a professional, and regularly published, wildlife photographer and Natures Images guide. Ellie works with both Canon UK and WEX Photographic. She has been awarded in competitions such as the British Wildlife Photography Awards and Natures Best, alongside being a judge for the former, as well as the RSPB's Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year. She has a beautiful, clean, and simple style to her work which has resulted in a portfolio of eye catching imagery.

Hire a lens for your workshop

Richard has partnered with Lenses for Hire, the UK's best known and most reliable lens rental company. We are pleased to offer UK residents a 10% discount on any lenses hired for your Japan Winter Wildlife workshop. Feel free to get in touch and find out more.

Your full itinerary

Day 1: A long day of travelling as it’s a 14 hour overnight flight from London to Tokyo.

Day 2: We arrive in Japan and then transfer by coach to the mountain village of Yudanaka, near to Nagano. This will be our base for the following three nights. Will will arrive during the afternoon, after a stopping for lunch on route. The rest of the afternoon will be at our leisure to allow for body clock adjustment from the 9 hour UK time difference.

Day 3-4: Near Nagano, the Japanese Alps are famous for the beautiful snow monkeys and the photographic opportunities they offer. Native to northern Japan, the Japanese macaque is the most northern-living non-human primate, surviving winter temperatures of below -15°C. The Jigokudani hot springs in Nagano are famous for their winter visits to the spa, where the monkeys spend the day relaxing in the thermal pools to fight off the cold of the mountains. We will spend two full days capturing this behaviour, trying to photograph the monkeys with everything from telephoto to wide angle lenses.

Day 5: A final morning with the snow monkeys. We then head back to Tokyo for an overnight stay near Haneda Airport.

Day 6: An early morning flight to the northern Japanese Island of Hokkaido, the second largest, northernmost and least developed of Japan’s four main islands. Weather here is harsh in winter with lots of snowfall and below zero temperatures. We spend the next 9 days exploring this beautiful island, visiting strategic photographic locations in search of the the iconic wildlife found here. Our first destination will be at the Akan crane centre. We will have an afternoon photo session here ahead of arrival at our hotel base.

Day 7: The red-crowned crane, also called the Japanese crane, is one of the rarest in the world. Known as a symbol of luck, longevity and fidelity in parts of its range, these cranes were thought to be extinct in Japan due to overhunting and habitat destruction. With conservation efforts they have made a dramatic recovery, with 20 birds found in the 1920’s now numbering more than 1000. The cranes are spectacular to watch as they dance, often in pairs, with seemingly choreographed dips and jumps. For two days we will look to photograph this beautiful bird at its night time roosting site and also at the Akan crane centre, where the birds are fed on a daily basis. With the right weather conditions, and if the cranes perform their spectacular courtship display, we will be witness to and rewarded with stunning images.

Day 8: We will spend our last morning with the cranes and, conditions allowing, it will be an early start as we get ourselves into position at a famous roosting site along a small river. We will then transfer to our next location, Lake Kussharo, for an afternoon photographing whooper swans.

Day 9-10: Lake Kussharo is a popular stopping point for several kinds of migratory birds in the winter and is a caldera lake, fed by hot springs. This means parts of it during the winter remains unfrozen. Lake Kussharo is a perfect winter roosting spot for the swans which have been fed for many years, and so they are very tame compared to other populations. This is without doubt one of the best places in the world to photograph this beautiful species. We will have all of our first day here to explore the lake and try different photoraphic techniques. On the second day we will transfer to Rausu during the afternoon, which will be our base for the next two nights.

Day 11-12: These two days will be based in Rausu where we will be going out each morning on a chartered boat, in to the Sea of Okhotsk. Here we will sail into the pack ice looking for Steller’s sea eagles. Many of these birds migrate from their breeding grounds to the southern Kuril Islands and to Hokkaido, where food is more plentiful. This very large, powerful, eagle spends the winter around the coasts or on the drift ice. The birds are attracted to fish that is thrown out for them and this really is one of the highlights of this remarkable trip. We shall be doing two consecutive boat trips each morning, to maximise our potential for images of this impressive bird in the stunning environment. White-tailed sea eagles are also attracted to the bait so both species will be possible. On the afternoon of the first day here we will travel to Notsuke Peninsula, which is a good place to look for sika deer and red fox. After our second mornings outings though we will head back to Lake Kusharo where we will spend our final night near Lake Kussharo.

Day 13: A final morning with the whooper swans before we transfer to Kushiro airport for our flight back to Tokyo, where we stay over-night near Haneda airport.

Day 14: From our hotel we will catch our flights home which, given the time differences, means we will arrive back in the UK later the same day.

Japan Winter Wildlife




Coming soon

How to book

Dates for this workshop are set to release in January 2025. Please email Richard if you would like to join the waiting list [email protected]

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What's Included

  • All accommodation
  • All meals
  • Local transfers
  • Entrance to reserves

What's not included

  • International flights
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Sundry items
  • Alcohol
  • Single sup on request