Many photographers and enthusiasts join Hokkaido Photo Tour are birders and join for the birding photo ops that exist all over Japan’s northern island. And when considering birds such as the snow ballerina the Red-crowned crane or The Steller’s Sea Eagle, it is clear that you could spend days even months taking photos of our winged friends. However, my experience as the lead Japan Photography Workshop Leader means that I know there is much more to the island than avian visitors.
While leading a recent Hokkaido Photo Tour, I was able to capture an outcropping of land with a nearly uncountable amount Yezo Sika Deer. It is always so remarkable being able to photograph the largest herd of Sika Deer on our planet. This opportunity arises annually but only when the weather conditions are in our favor.And when the conditions are perfect, I know when and where the herd will be gathered, and everyone in our group is always awe-struck, and the authentic Japan wildlife action photography begins. (Imagine being in a small group 8 photographers in the wild with no other photographers in the vicinity and facing a herd of 1000 Sika Deer). This occurs on a thin peninsula, and the deer have to pass us to reach the mainland, so I always recommend having two camera bodies, one with a super-telephoto 600mm to an 800mm and one with an 80-200mm. As we approach the herd, I stop our lead vehicle 200 yards from them and we get out and start to immortalize the herd into our mind’s eye and memory cards. As an amateur historian and lead photography guide, I know that the now relatively abundant Yezo Deer were once dangerously close to extinction. Once Hokkaido started receiving an influx of Japanese from the main island, the deer’s population shrunk to near extinction levels. Venison canning between two major hub cities in Hokkaido meant the deer were perpetually overhunted, but on two different occasions the deer were given protected status which allowed them to return to numbers enabling them to roam free. And now they are available for photo ops in several different parts of Hokkaido, and my experience as a Japan Photo Workshop Tour Leader means that you will access to the locations with the highest probabilities of seeing the deer.
Ezo Red Foxes represent another wildlife photo op especially lovely among the snowy natural landscapes on a Hokkaido Photo Tour. Ezo Foxes are in areas rich in nature which describes most of Hokkaido. Because the temperature drops so low during the winter, the foxes coat becomes even fluffier and fuller to insulate them as they hunt for food or patrol their domain in the forests of Hokkaido. Make no mistake. The Ezo Foxes may have a fluffy coat, but their speed is something to behold. As your Hokkaido Photography Tour Leader, I will be on the lookout for them, so your Hokkaido Photo Tour will have unexpected stops devoted to capturing these red and white wild visitors. Our SUV's have business class seating allowing you room enough to have a camera, or two made ready in a moments notice to photograph these diminutive hunters among the breathtaking winter landscapes.
One last elusive wildlife photo op is the least weasel or Eizo iizuna weasel. While exploring the snow-covered landscapes of North-East Hokkaido, you may see an inquisitive head pop up from the snowbank in search of prey. This weasel may look adorable with its cream or sometimes stark white coat, but the iizuna weasel is a fierce predator, and if it is has made itself visible, that means prey is probably nearby. I recommend keeping a safe distance while photographing these little treasures.
The possibilities while on a Blain Harasymiw Hokkaido Photo Tour are nearly endless, including winter wonderland Hokkaido Landscapes. Also, our annual February tour includes the iconic symbol of Japan, Mt. Fuji, which in my opinion is a must-see for every visitor to Japan. We take half a day to visit an original Samurai Castle built in the 1500s, and one of Japan's most famous temples in the Valley of the Dragons. Also included on this journey are the Japanese macaque or Snow Monkey. Japanese Macaques are a glamorous species and a must-see for visiting photographers. As a testimony to our dedication to our craft as photo tour leaders, I and my fellow staff photographers have logged over 20 years experience visiting the monkeys, and we know dozens of individual monkeys by name. This kind of devotion to the monkeys and to the Jigokudani Yaen Koen, the local name for their habitat, means that you will capture breathtaking photos while joining a Blain In Japan Photo Tour. With Blain Harasymiw photography tour leaders by your side, you know you know you'll take the best photos of your life.