Japanese Spiritualists have championed the healing properties of nature for years. An experiment conducted in 2004 by Japan’s National Land Afforestation Promotion Organization indicated that people who simply looked at a forest for twenty minutes had a lower concentration of stress hormone, cortisol, in their bodies (The Japanese practice of 'forest bathing' is scientifically proven to improve your health). Now imagine the benefits of spending entire days in the high alpine on Hokkaido Winter photo tours, not just seeing forests and nature but interacting and photographing them.
Photographers from all over the world happily spend hours in the forests returning refreshed from their expedition to hike while taking photos. I and my fellow photographers at Blain Harasymiw Photography know that taking the perfect photograph takes time, yet all the time you spend preparing yourself for the best photo op is time well spent releasing stress. Not only are you taking once in a lifetime photos on a Hokkaido Tour, but your health is progressively improving as tension leaves your body, enjoying 森林浴 (Shinrin-yoku) or as it is called, Forest Therapy. Many also only think of forests in their green, lustrous state, but Hokkaido holds approximately 25% of all of Japan’s woodlands, and although the leaves may have fallen before winter, the long trunk and strong branches of the trees have the same healing properties and are homes to many of the Yezo deer or Yezo red foxes that call Hokkaido in winter their home.
Some photographers stay away from cold landscapes such as winter in Hokkaido and remain in warmer areas to do birding photography or landscape photography. “I see this is as limiting,” so says Blain who has spent half his life in the tropics and the other half in cooler parts of the globe. Hokkaido Tours are filled with beauty and spectacular wildlife photography and landscapes all year-round, but the winter makes the photo ops all the more spectacular! Such as where the Red Crowed Cranes roost waking in the golden as seen in the image chosen for this article, also The Steller’s Sea Eagles, Blakiston’s Fish Owls, Whooper Swans, are all part of Hokkaido in winter birding photography. Hokkaido Photo Tours also provide opportunities for non-avian wildlife such as Ezo Foxes, Sika Deer, and perhaps even the Eurasian Red Squirrel will even make an appearance.
The landscapes that the wildlife call home also provide ample shutter chances. Due to the low temperatures in Hokkaido and the glistening snow, you have the opportunity to photograph what is commonly called ‘diamond dust’, when the light catches the shimmer of the crystalline snow, you will have pictures that shine with the magic that only a Japanese winter can provide, but the natural phenomena do not end there. ‘Sun pillars’ and ‘light pillars' can also be seen when the ice crystals drift in the atmosphere above the frozen plains of Hokkaido. A final treat are the ‘snow rollers’ when chunks of snow are blown along the ground by the wind, etching a message into the pristine snow for your to commemorate with your camera. My team and I are waiting for you to book your tour and join us on the tour of a lifetime!
Why not capture some of these remarkable landscapes while also replenishing your mind, body, and spirit?