Japan 160131 Tsurui - Kawayu

Japan 160122-160204
Bird Photography trip

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© NF Photos 160131

The first day of our trip when we did not wake up in the middle of the night.
Our departure from the hotel was scheduled at 8.30. So I had a little time to take a look at the street outside the hotel in Tsurui. The interesting thing I had seen was that there was steam coming out from the sides of the street. So I think there was hot spring water flowing under the side of the street.

The breakfast was very tasty and I liked it a lot. We were also given a gift in form of calendars for this year from the hotel. There was two very beautiful calendars in the roll and they featured the Red-crowned cranes of course   :)

Today we are going north but first we made a stop at the Crane center in Tsurui to get some last morning images of the cranes. A man was preparing breakfast for the cranes but none was there. They were still at the river. But instead I spotted a Coal Tit. you can see it HERE

So we headed north to find our first target. An Ural owl (slaguggla)  that was sitting in a tree. An easy find if you know it is there. But, that is the reason why you have a local guide. We had to walk about 200 m in the snow to find it sitting in a hole in a tree.

After lunch at a restaurant with Japanese version  of pizza, we made a stop at Lake Mashu. Which was a volcano lake. It was very beautiful and had a gorgeous surrounding with snowy trees and mountains. In the sun it was almost too beautiful.

Our last stop for the day was Lake Kussharo where we were looking for mute swans in the mist from hot streams. A well known lake for that kind of shots. But I was a bit disappointed. The misty areas was very small with a rather small area of open water. But I soon realized that the images tricks you to think it is bigger. Nevertheless it was a nice place for photography. Two different locations with the surrounding mountains. 
A beautiful light in the low sun

Dancing Queens

The second place, with a center, had very strange icy features. And there the swans started to dance. Did look hilarious as they had to dance on those sharp icy edges. 
We did also see a male Falcated duck (praktand).

Night in a hotel in Kawayu. We had a party like dinner. Very nice. Even if I think the Japanese kitchen use too little spice. We met in a separate room dressed in the common clothing that was provided in every room we had so far on the trip. Coming back to the room after dinner my bed was set on the floor.

It´s a bit tricky sitting on the floor eating and working. Not used to it anymore.

Tomorrow we move again.

Whooper swans and ducks on Lake Kussharo

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31/1: Morgonen vid Tsurui Ito Tancho Crane Sanctuary. Transport norrut genom Akan National Park,

med stopp vid Lake Mashu. Kvällen vid Lake Kussharo (sångsvanarna). Natt i Kawayu.

Efter ett kort inledande besök vid trancentrat i Tsurui körde vi vidare norrut. Först stoppet blev för foto av en fin slaguggla på dagkvist. Vi fortsatte norrut längs vackra Akan National Park i ett härligt vinterväder, med en värmande sol, blå himmel och gnistrande snö. Längs vägen sågs flera jättehavsörnar samt japanska sikahjortar.

Efter lunch stannade vi vid
 Lake Mashu för landskapsfotografering. Ett vackert landskap bredde ut sig framför oss, med vulkansjön och omkringliggande berg. Dagen avslutades med sångsvansfotografering i Lake Kussharo. Sjön måste vara ett av världens bästa ställe att fotografera sångsvan på! Svanarna ligger i små isvakar på sjön, där varmt vatten sipprar ut så det ryker i kylan och bildar dimridåer runt svanarna. Detta magiska scenario och med en vacker bakgrund med snöklädda berg, gav väldigt vackra bilder i det fina kvällsljuset! Där fanns även praktand och Crested Kingfisher.


Japan 160130 Red-crowned Crane day

Japan 160122-160204
Bird Photography trip

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© NF Photos 160130 Otowa Bridge

This day was all about the Red-crowned Crane or Japanese crane as it is also called. 
We hardly slept before we had to wake up. The bus left at 04,00 in the morning and it was -18 degC. Brrrrr. That is cold. But our eminent local guide provided us with warming pads. We got three types, one for shoes, to warm the toes, one for the stomach to keep that part warm and then one for each hand. To keep fingers warm. And they worked. 

First we went to the Otowa Bridge at Setsuri River, Akan Tancho no Sato. A well known place for the crane to spend the night and every crane photographer visits. So did we. When we arrived it was still dark but we could see them in the distant still sleeping, standing in the water. As the morning light started the cranes started to move around and more people was gathering on the bridge. 

Around 8 we got back to the hotel for a late breakfast. Which was very nice at that time. Even if we had coffee in the bus we were really hungry for a meal. And this time we got half a western breakfast with toast and fried egg alongside some Japanese small dishes.  

Then we went back to the bridge for a couple of images in daylight and flying birds. They were now heading for Akan Tancho no Sato where they would be fed later on. We too went there to watch the event. There was more to see at that place. They had a museum too that told a lot of the cranes and the area.

This time we were given lunch tickets so everyone was free to eat when they wanted. Just before 14,00 as that was the time for feeding. 

A while before the feeding would start the raptors flew in. It was kites, sea eagles, Giant Sea eagles and some other birds. They too wanted some lunch. And every camera went warm from clicking when the action begun. Cranes and raptors all wanted the fish. Seeing the big eagles diving right into the cranes was cool and a bit scary at the same time. But they were all used to it. 

From there we went to another area with cranes, Tsurui Ito Tancho Crane Sanctuary. It was very different from the first center. Much nicer nature and some other birds as well. We spent about an hour there and then left for the last spot this day. A place where the cranes was passing in the light if the setting sun on the way back to the bridge for the night. 

And then we went back to the hotel for dinner and another session in the Onsen. And because of the "warmers" none of us had been too cold during the day. 

Tomorrow we will head north. 

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30/1: Otowa Bridge innan frukost, trancentrat Akan Tancho no Sato, samt kvällen vid Tsurui Ito

Tancho Crane Sanctuary. Natt i Tsurui.

Heldag med fotografering av de underbart vackra japanska tranorna! Vi inledde morgonen vid Otowa Bridge över Setsuri River. Det är en klassisk lokal för fotografering, där tranorna står i den ångande floden, omgivna av en vacker rimfrost på träden. Vi fick en morgon med fina förhållanden och runt friska -20 grader. Ett par adulta jättehavsörnar passerade förbi, vilket inte direkt gjorde morgonen mindre angenäm. Under dagen flyttade vi oss till trancentrat Akan Tancho no Sato, för många timmars jättefin tranfotografering! Vackra svartvita japanska tranor blev den huvudsakliga fotomodellen, med oerhört bra fotolägen på tranor som dansar, trumpetar och födosöker! Den stora showen började dock klockan två, då man utfodrar med fisk. Som på beställning dök flera havsörnar, bruna glador och en adult jättehavsörn upp och stal fisken för tranorna. Makalöst bra fotolägen på örnarna, så minneskorten fylldes snabbt!

På eftermiddagen förflyttade vi oss till
 Tsurui Ito Tancho Crane Sanctuary, för mera tranor. Kvällen avslutades nära Tsurui på en plats där tranorna passerade på väg mot sin övernattningsplats med den vackert rödfärgade kvällshimmeln i bakgrunden. Idag har det verkligen varit en magiskt bra dag, men mängder av fina bilder tagna! 


Japan 160129 Jigokudani Monkey Park - Tokyo - Hokkaido

Japan 160122-160204
Bird Photography trip

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© NF Photos 160129, Jigokudani Yaenkoen

Today I woke up early as usual. I had time to take a walk around the area to take a look at the hot water river. There is a waterfall as well. And everything is very beautiful. I did even see a Brown dipper searching for breakfast. 

After breakfast we headed up to the Monkey Park. On the way up I spotted 2 guys taking a bath in the outdoor Onsen. Probably hoping for a monkey to join in. But no one did.  We had 2 h today at the monkey park before we had to go back through the forest to the Onsen where the bus is waiting o pick us up. And today it was snowing.
Today we were going straight to Haneda airport in Tokyo for transfer to Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan. After landing in Kushiro airport we had to go by bus another hour to our first hotel up north in Tsurui. Everyone wanted a very late dinner but I did not. I don´t really like to have dinner at 22.00 in the evening. Instead I took a shower in the Onsen and just enjoyed myself.  There was no shower in the room but the Onsen, hot spring water bath in the other end of the hall, was great. So nice after all the sitting in busses and airplanes today.
Uploaded the images and then "hit the sack" in a normal bed today. No sleeping on the floor this time. 
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The mountain lodge a snowy morning

In lack of monkey company you can always take a selfie.  Outdoor hotspring  onsen.

Monkey gathering

The walk back to civilization with different types of trees on both sides.

At the Haneda Airport in Tokyo it was raining. Taking from our plane window


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Saturdays critters

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29/1: Morgonen i Jigokudani Monkey Park, sedan vandring tillbaka och buss till Tokyo. Flyg Tokyo –
Kushiro på Hokkaido på kvällen, sedan buss till hotellet i Tsurui.

Idag inledde vi dagen med ännu ett besök hos de badande makakerna vid Jigokudani Monkey Park. Där även en brun strömstare. Sedan lämnade vi lodgen och vandrade vi ner för berget, till bussen som väntade på oss. Därefter väntade en lång bussresa tillbaka till Tokyo.

På eftermiddagen tog vi sedan flyget norrut, till Kushiro på Hokkaido, där vi körde en timme norrut till vårt hotell för de kommande två nätterna i byn
 Tsurui (vilket betyder "där tranorna finns", p g a av alla japanska tranor). Nu väntar resans sista del, med riktigt kalla och arktiska förhållanden och fler fantastiskt fina fotomöjligheter! 


Japan 160128 Jigokudani Monkey Park

Japan 160122-160204
Bird Photography trip

Today we spent the whole day at the Jigokudani Monkey Park.
First we had breakfast in the dining room across the outdoor "hall". We had to cross in our socks as that is the costum. But the makaks did not need any socks as they were passing through the hallway to go to the park. After finishing the meal we headed to the park. It was only 5 min walk  up a slope. Looking back there was a wonderful, wintery, wild, view over the Lodge clinging to the mountainside. Surrounded by the hot water stream and geyser. Having our tickets we could go back and forth as we pleased. 
It was not much snow or cold so there was not many monkeys in the pool. And hardly no young playing around in the pool. They were elsewhere. 

We asked the staff about that and they told us that people had been too close to the monkeys and disturbed them so now they hesitate to go into the pool. Not fun with 10 cameras right up your nose when you are in the SPA. The staff had now build a fence to try to keep visitors at a distant from the monkeys. We can just hope it helps. If not this attraction will soon be history. The makaks will still come for food, but not to play around in the pool. 

We went back to the Lodge for lunch and then back to the park. And stayed there until 5 when the park closed and most monkey already left to go to where they spend the night. 

On the hillside we also spotted the rare Serow. A goatlike antilope. An animal that lives their life in slow motion. No fast running there. We spotted three of them. Probably a pair with a young. 

There were still time to see the setting sun. So that is what I did before it was time for dinner. With no tv, computer or anything it was very nice with an early night. You sleep great in those beds. 

Tomorrow we will have 2 more hours at the park before we begin the walk to get back to Tokyo

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The images today are mostly of the Makaks. I have so many images I will have to create another post later on for more.

© NF Photos 160128  Jigokudani Monkey Park
Someone wants to drive to "work"

 The pool is smaller then I thought

 Enjoying themselves in the spa

A young one playes around

The Serow and a Makak on the hillside

Looking good!


Finding it´s own spot in the sun.

The Lodge with the hot water stream and geyser.  The Park the Makaks visits daily is in the sunny area
5 min walk from the Lodge. The Makaks is passing through the lodge to get there.

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Heldag hos de japanska makakerna i Jigokudani Monkey Park, där åtskilliga tusen apbilder hamnat på våra minneskort! Underbara fotolägen på de totalt orädda, väldigt söta och otroligt charmiga aporna, då de badar i den heta källan eller hoppar omkring och äter och busar. Inte mycket fåglar idag, men åtminstone brun strömstare och en flock japanska stenknäckar noterades. Extra intressant var minst 3 Serow, en mycket udda så kallad getantilop som är endemisk för Japan.


Japan 160127 Tokyo to Jigokudani Monkey Park

Japan 160122-160204
Bird Photography trip

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© NF Photos 160127

An early breakfast again today as we were due to leave the hotel at 7.45, with all luggage. Ms Harumi Yamanaka led us to the waiting bus that would take us across the main island of Honshu to the Mountain Lodge and the Snow Monkey park at the Kambayashi Onsen i Nagano Prefecture.

This image is from the airport on the way to the bus. You can see Mt Fuji in the distance and a moon over the building to the right. 

Travelling out of Tokyo we had a beautiful view of Mt Fuji at several points. It was a beautiful, sunny and crystal clear day. It was beautiful landscape all the way across the Honshu island.

Behind the huge fence and building tower Mt Fuji is seen. 

A stop at a market for shopping and toilet Mt Fuji is still seen. But this was the last view of it. Now we headed inland toward the other coast. Two of my travel companions is standing there. 

During the travel we made a stop at the beautiful Matsumoto Castle. One of the few remaining original castles in Japan. It is located in a beautiful surrounded with a moat. There was some ducks swimming and a couple of swans. The snow on the ground and the mountains as backdrop added to the beauty.

We made another stop for buying lunch and using needed facilities and then continued.We had to reach the Kambayashi Onsen at least an hour before nightfall.

Reaching the Onsen we left our suitcases at the nearby hotel and took what we needed for two nights in our backpacks. There was a path about 2 km long that we had to walk to get to the Mountain Lodge and there was no lights. But it was a beautiful walk in the middle of a hillside. But easy enough to walk. We got to the lodge safely and was greeted by a few Makaks that was heading in the opposite direction for night shelter.

After getting our rooms it was still some daylight so I could go out to take a look at the surrounding.
There was a hot water geyser and a river just outside the lodge.
Very beautiful area indeed.

The dinner was again the Japanese setting.
The Lodge is hand built with lots of cool details. In the wilderness ,as it was, the water supply and electricity was scarce. And you could not turn of the water, they kept it running so it should not freeze. No shower today as the water was cold and the Onsen very small. 

A bit cold but the bedding, Japanese style, is great. And I realized the paper doors are great for stopping the cold. Never would have believed that. Went to bed after the dinner and slept well. 

Mountain Lodge close to the Jigokudani Monkey Park

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27/1: Buss genom centrala Honshu mot Kambayashi Onsen, med stopp vid Matsumoto Castle.

         Vandring längs vinterleden upp till Jigokudani Monkey Park. Natt på lodgen intill parken.

Idag har vi främst haft en transportdag, med buss från Tokyo till Kambayashi Onsen i Nagano Prefecture, där vi ska fotografera de badande japanska makakerna hela dagen i morgon. Bussen tog oss från Hanedaflygplatsen via de södra delarna av Tokyo och in genom de centrala delarna av huvudön Honshu. Vi bjöds på en kristallklar och vacker vårvinterdag.

Under resan gjorde vi ett stopp vid det fina
 Matsumoto Castle, ett av få kvarvarande originalslott i Japan. Slottet ligger vackert beläget och vi kunde få fina foton där det reflekteras i sin vallgrav, med snöklädda berg som bakgrund.

Så småningom nådde vi fram till
 Kambayashi Onsen där vi vandrade upp längs vinterleden till den bergslodeg där vi ska bo, just intill Jigokudani Monkey Park. Totalt orädda och mycket charmiga japanska makaker hälsade oss välkomna.