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Thread: Japan Winter 2008

  1. #1

    Default Japan Winter 2008

    Destinations: Nagano region and Hokkaido region.
    Dates: 30thJan - 13th Feb or 18th Feb - 2nd March
    Plane tickets: All Nippon Airway SIN - TOKYO - SIN (2-way) plus 2 domestic flight TOKYO - KUSHIRO - TOKYO= $920SGD - $1080SGD.
    the more people going, the cheaper the ticket.
    Train & Bus : Using Japan Rail Pass for 2 weeks is ard $600SG for unlimited rides.
    Accomodation including breakfast and dinner. : Ard $70SGD - $90SGD per day per person. So if 13 days, ard $1k SGD.

    Adding the above together is ard $2720SGD.
    We set aside another 1k for admission fees, other foods and boat out in sea ice to shoot stella sea eagle ( $120 for each boat trip, depends on how many we want to go on. ) and other misc stuffs like souvenirs if you want...
    Total Budget : ard $3.5k - 3.7k


    30th Jan 2008 (Wed)
    ANA overnight flight from Singapore - Tokyo
    Fare ( from Chanbrothers) : $800 SGD (2 passengers) , $640 (4 passengers)
    Have to book before 28-Sep-2007

    For train and bus travel, We will get the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) which will allow us to travel unlimited JR train and Bus ride throughout Japan.
    For 14 consecutive days (2 weeks), it cost 45,100 Yen ( $600SGD). You might think this is expensive at first, but it really does save in the long run and we don't have to go blur at the ticketing machine each time we want to take a train. And of course, taking the bullet train, Shinkansen, saves us time also.


    31st Jan 2008 (Thur)
    Arrive at Narita, Tokyo airport and take the Shinkansen (the fastest train) to Nagano. We will travel to a famous family-run lodge at Yamanouchi. We can have the rest of the day exploring the surrounding areas.
    Duration ( Tokyo - Nagano) : 90 mins
    (Nagano Station - Yamanouchi ) : 60mins
    Lodge Rate: ard SGD 50. If plus dinner and breakfast at the loge, total will be ard SGD80.


    Birds you may find here include Whooper swans, goldeneye and goosander, to white-backed, Great spotted and Japanese pygmy woodpecker, Hawfinch.
    Mammals like the elusive Japanese Serow and troops of Snow Monkeys!
    Japan’s Winter Wildlife In National Geographic
    http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/...geographic.com


    1st Feb 2008 (Fri)
    Jigokundani, aka Hell Valley, in Shiga Heights (shigakogen). To shoot the wild snow monkeys troops in snow and hot-tubbing together in the onsen. These monkeys are famous for their cultural transmission behavior (young monkeys learn from their elders novel kinds of behaviors, from grooming techniques to hot-tubbing to food preparation). They are the only animal other than humans and raccoons that is known to wash its food before eating it.
    15min JR bus from lodge to Jigokundani. We will spend the whole day there. From 9am to 4.30PM. Admission Fee is $7 SGD.
    Some Great Snow Monkeys in onsen Photos here.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ommphot...7594434322919/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mangani...7600011544427/



    2nd Feb 2008 (Sat)
    Another day at Jigokundani, aka Hell Valley, in Shiga Heights (shigakogen). To shoot the wild snow monkeys troops in snow and hot-tubbing together in the onsen.
    15min JR bus from lodge to Jigokundani. We will spend the whole day there. From 9am to 4.30PM. Admission Fee is $7 SGD.

    3rd Feb 2008 (Sun)
    We will head of next to the famous birding site, Yacho no Mori (also know as Karuizawa Bird Forest). At the lodge, you may see the Asian Azure-winged Magpies in the trees outside our window. We are 10 min walking distance from the best part of the forest.
    60min JR bus to Nagano Station. Nagano-bound Shinkansen from Tokyo Station and get off at Karuizawa. From there catch the local train to Naka-Karuizawa.

    Birds you may find here include Willow, Varied and Japanese Tits, Grey-capped Greenfinches and Long-tailed Rosefinches Great Spotted and Japanese Pygmy Woodpeckers, Dusky Thrush, Coal Tit and Nuthatch Copper Pheasant, Crested Kingfisher, Japanese Accentor and, if we are lucky, Japanese Waxwing, Red-flanked Bluetail, Bull-headed Shrike and Rustic Bunting. At nearby Yokokawa we should find Brown Dipper and Japanese Wagtail in the river. On the reservoir, colourful Mandarin Ducks are normally present. Long-tailed Tit, Eurasian Jay, Winter Wren, Ural Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Japanese Grosbeak (fabulous song), Yellow Bunting, Brown Dipper, lots of Narcissus and Blue-and-white Flycatchers and Siberian Blue Robin.


    4th Feb 2008 (Mon)
    Another day at Yacho no Mori (also know as Karuizawa Bird Forest).

    5th Feb 2008 (Tue)
    We are off to Hokkaido.[/b][/color].
    Local train to Naka-Karuizawa and then JR Shinkansen to Tokyo Station and then Internal flight from Tokyo to Kushiro, Hokkaido. Total journey altogether from Nagano to Hokkaido should be ard 3 hrs.
    ANA domestic flight is only ard $140 SGD coz of Travel Japan Fare.

    Arrive at Kushiro. Take a JR Bus to Shimo-Kuchoro in Tsurui-mura Village to stay at a Farm Lodge ( $70SGD per night per person. )


    6th Feb 2008 (Wed)
    Nearby Lake Kussharo , Akan National Park, for cranes and Whooper swans as well. Hokkaido’s most scenic crater lake, and flocks of vociferous whooper swans gliding among the steam and morning mist.
    Some Great Whooper Swan Photos here.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kclama/8079831/
    http://www.mattonestonia.com/images/search/whooper+swan

    Birds you may find here include Smews and Harlequins. With luck, have a "steller time" with the likes of the Steller's Sea-Eagle, Steller's Eider, and Steller's Sea Lion. Pelagic Cormorant,


    7th Feb 2008 (Thur)
    Red-crowned, or Japanese, cranes, the largest and most northerly of the cranes in Japan. Expect to see and photograph flocks of 100 or more of these magnificent birds at ranges down to just 50 feet or less. At this time of year the cranes will be dancing a truly spectacular ritual. May also photograph white-tailed eagles, black-eared kites, and possibly red foxes. Whooper Swans at the Kawayu area.
    Great Red-Crowned Cranes Photos
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/wildpho...7594243601929/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kuckiba...dcrownedcrane/


    8th Feb 2008 (Fri)
    Another day for Red-Crowned Cranes.

    9th Feb 2008 (Sat)
    Stay at nearby Furen Ko. The famous lodge whereby the owner speaks good english and good birding knowledge. Brown-eared Bulbuls, Eurasian Nuthatches, Asian Marsh and Japanese Tits, and Eurasian Tree Sparrows at the feeders outside the room window.
    Birds you may find here include Blakiston's Fish Owls, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Marsh Tit, Harlequin, Black and Asian Scoters, Long-tailed, and Red-breasted Meganser
    Mammals : Sika Deer, Red Fox.


    10th Feb 2008 (Sun)
    Another day at Furen-ko

    11th Feb 2008 (Mon) -13th Feb (Wed)
    Travel to Rausu. Basically this place is famous for Stella and White-tailed sea eagle on the sea ice. We will go on the sea-eagle boat trips (ard $120 SGD which only applies to Photograpers ) which we have to make reservation as soon as we arrive in Rausu. There's a morning and evening boat. So i guess we could go for both times to get thee best. However, note that on some days, the boats may not go out due to weather or ice conditions. So i've decided we stay her for at least 3 days just in case.
    Birds you may find here include Blakiston's Fish Owls, Brown Dippers, Teals, Spectacled Guillemots, Asian Rosy Finches etc etc....


    Some Great Stella Sea Eagle Photos here.
    http://www.martinbaileyphotography.com/thumbnails.php?album=search&cat=0&page=4
    http://www.johnchapmanphotographer.c...2601#133532526


    13th Feb (Wed)
    Kushiro - Tokyo - Singapore!
    Back to Singapore!
    Last edited by LingNightsky; 24th August 2007 at 04:13 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    Woo! Good luck on your trip Ling, and take lots of nice pics back!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    wah! hope you find more travelling mates!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    thanx thanx! i hope i do find more people to go with! And iw ill defiantely take a gazillion pics back. Think this is gonna be like my china+borneo trip plus together. I'm so excited!
    Have to book tickets by early Sept latest latest. So hurry! Express your interest for the trip fast!
    Last edited by LingNightsky; 24th August 2007 at 01:16 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    Wish I can join you as a tour guide but then got priority on other stuff. Good luck on getting more people since everyone is caught up in the BBB and SSS frenzy now.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    What's BBB and SSS? hehe Guess i haven't been around for quite a while.
    you traveled to japan extensively? would be cool to have u to join but i guess there's always a next time!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    Been around long enough to get around most places. BBB and SSS is just Buy Buy Buy and Sell Sell Sell. Let me know again. I have a few spots that I want to hit if I get a chance to do extensive travelling there.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    The travel dates are flexible. I suggest 18th Feb until early March as another option.

    Chinese new year 7 and 8th Feb. I want to start traveling way before or way after that period to avoid the CNY tourist crowd.. So yup, either start from 30th Jan or 18th Feb.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    I'm confused by the dates that you have posted and the dates shown on your schedule. Whilst I would like to go, the timing of the trip is quite critical so can you please clarify this. Many thanks. I think I would prefer 18 February dates.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    Hi Syl

    There are two periods.
    Either 30thJan - 13th Feb or 18th Feb - 2nd March
    Last edited by LingNightsky; 24th August 2007 at 10:36 AM.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    Quote Originally Posted by syl View Post
    I'm confused by the dates that you have posted and the dates shown on your schedule. Whilst I would like to go, the timing of the trip is quite critical so can you please clarify this. Many thanks. I think I would prefer 18 February dates.
    i think there is typo in the dates in Ling's 1st post. after 31st jan, it should be 1 Feb iso 1st Jan.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    gosh, i didn't notice that! thanx so much!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    Hi all
    for those who are interested and has pmed me before, can email me at pixelsense@gmail.com from now on.
    thank you!!!

  14. #14

    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    No money to go and not enough leave to use. Enjoy your trip.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    TS,
    Have U calculate the cost if U not buying 14 days JR pass?
    From ur itinary I see machiam not so hu hua...but I might be wrong

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    travelling via Thai Airways would be a cheaper alternatively, rates are at $747 inc. tax for a round trip to Tokyo

    as for JR passes, 14 days might be a tad too long for an itinerary that does not cover much of Japan's different region, and also JR only covers selected areas of Japan and many other commonly used lines are privately owned and therefore not eligible for use with the JR pass, long duration JR passes would be justifiable when theres numerous travels between regions via Shinkansen.... a re-work on the itinerary on transportation side might be a good idea.

    and if the participants are cool with spartan accomodations, you could effectively cut down quite a significant amount of budget required, a dorm based accomodation in Hokkaido costs 3500yen per night and in Tokyo, 1500yen per night

    based on my calculations with a 14-day JR pass, budget could be reduced to around $1915 not including daily expenditure and $2915 including daily expenses

    p.s

    i'm not a professional tour guide, therefore you are not required or obliged to modify your itinerary based on my suggestions but as someone who has travelled to japan free and easy for more than a dozen times, what i've said are not without basis.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    Quote Originally Posted by vaxvms View Post
    TS,
    Have U calculate the cost if U not buying 14 days JR pass?
    From ur itinary I see machiam not so hu hua...but I might be wrong
    my thoughts exactly, the low usage of Shinkansen travels wouldnt totally justify the cost of a 14-day JR pass, then again, having a 14-days JR pass sure is a no-hassle means of transportation, as the TS need not have to wreck his/her brains trying to schedule everything to fit in line with the transporations



    in fact, if you've asked me, my suggestion would be to use a 7-day JR pass, head straight up to Hokkaido upon arrival in Japan, spend 6 days there and on the 7th day, head straight back to Tokyo en-route to Nagano (est. time required, 10hrs).

    Total savings with that plan would be at $320 and it would not have affected the original itinerary much
    Last edited by ReiszRie; 6th September 2007 at 01:45 AM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    Quote Originally Posted by ReiszRie View Post
    travelling via Thai Airways would be a cheaper alternatively, rates are at $747 inc. tax for a round trip to Tokyo
    why not take NW?abt $650 include tax during their promotion ,likely in nov?
    got in-flt entertainment
    btw TG need transit rite?

    Quote Originally Posted by ReiszRie View Post
    in fact, if you've asked me, my suggestion would be to use a 7-day JR pass, head straight up to Hokkaido upon arrival in Japan, spend 6 days there and on the 7th day, head straight back to Tokyo en-route to Nagano (est. time required, 10hrs).
    7 day in hokkaido enough?maybe central hokkaido region
    me now headache dun know wanna buy 14 days pass or not as likely to spent 2 wk in hokkaido....this time die die alsomust go shiretoko try walkin on drift ice
    pro of buying is get 1 shot reserved all trip since FOC esp book those special winter operating train liek SL,norioko (but of cos provided u travel to east of hokkaido lah )
    con is onli travel shinkansen 2x nia so total cost earn not much )
    Last edited by vaxvms; 6th September 2007 at 11:05 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    Quote Originally Posted by vaxvms View Post
    why not take NW?abt $650 include tax during their promotion ,likely in nov?
    got in-flt entertainment
    btw TG need transit rite?


    7 day in hokkaido enough?maybe central hokkaido region
    me now headache dun know wanna buy 14 days pass or not as likely to spent 2 wk in hokkaido....this time die die alsomust go shiretoko try walkin on drift ice
    pro of buying is get 1 shot reserved all trip since FOC esp book those special winter operating train liek SL,norioko (but of cos provided u travel to east of hokkaido lah )
    con is onli travel shinkansen 2x nia so total cost earn not much )
    NW at $650 sure is a steal ^^

    yeap, TG requires a transit in Bangkok


    7 days in Hokkaido would be sufficient for a general trip and it fits into what the TS had originally scheduled for the trip

    upon further reading, i realised that the TS had intended to take domestic flights to get to Hokkaido and back which totally throws the one and only good reason for getting the JR pass out of the window.

    maybe a JR Hokkaido pass might be a better choice in this case.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Japan Winter 2008

    Quote Originally Posted by ReiszRie View Post
    NW at $650 sure is a steal ^^

    upon further reading, i realised that the TS had intended to take domestic flights to get to Hokkaido and back which totally throws the one and only good reason for getting the JR pass out of the window.

    maybe a JR Hokkaido pass might be a better choice in this case.

    there is 1 such deal during national day period but travel latest by dec 08 so out for me
    hope nov have such offer as 06 and 07

    oh ya...just realised also TS takin dosmetic flt to the north

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