Important Information

Best Season
Tour Dates
21st December 2019 to 2nd January 2020 (13 days)
Tour Price (Per Person)
Tour Type
Birding Adventures
Single Supplement
Internal Ticket
Spaces Available
Spaces available

The archipelago that is Japan is not only a subject of fascination for its history and culture, but also because of the incredible birding! Whether you are a keen birder, or someone who just enjoys seeing beautiful birds (or both!), this exploration with Chicago native and world-renowned gull expert Amar Ayyash takes in the very best of what Japan has to offer. While we’ll emphasize the amazing concentrations of Steller’s Sea Eagles, the spectacles of elegant cranes and the intriguing wealth of gulls, we’ll enjoy all the birds Japan has to offer.

‘The Land of the Rising Sun’ is host to a marvelous variety of habitats. We begin in bustling Tokyo, with a dash down to the coast at Choshi, where Slaty-backed, Vega and Black-tailed Gulls gather, and Japanese Cormorants, and White-cheeked Starlings may grace us too. Then we are off south to the island of Kyushu, which plays host to one of the greatest avian spectacles on earth, with thousands of Hooded and White-naped Cranes spending the winter here along with other specialties like Brown-cheeked Rail, Chinese Penduline Tit, Saunders’s Gull and the superb Mandarin Duck. On the eastern side of the island, we will attempt to locate the near-endemic Grey Bunting among many other exciting and memorable species.

On the beautiful, northerly island of Hokkaido, with its fields of snow, frozen lakes and rugged seacoasts, we hope to marvel at the impressive Blakiston’s Fish Owl, magnificent Steller’s Sea Eagles and elegant Red-crowned (Japanese) Cranes. In addition, the coasts here are home to numerous species of sea-ducks, Loons and Auks, and we will also keep an eye out for wintering passerines, including the beautiful Asian Rosy Finch.

We invite you to join us on our unforgettable exploration of Japan, the ultimate winter wonderland, with one of the U.S.’s best-known birders!

Tour Fact Sheet

Top Birds

Blakiston’s Fish Owl, Ural Owl, Steller’s and White-tailed Sea Eagles, Red-crowned Crane, thousands of Hooded & White-naped Cranes, Red-faced Cormorant, Brown-cheeked Rail, Long-billed Plover, Saunders’s Gull, up to 8 species of alcids including Spectacled Guillemot, White-bellied Green and Japanese Wood Pigeons, Japanese Green, Japanese Pygmy and White-backed Woodpeckers, Chinese Penduline Tit, Brown-headed & White’s Thrushes, Grey & Yellow-throated Buntings, Asian Rosy Finch, Long-tailed Rosefinch, Brown-eared Bulbul, Brown Dipper, Crested Kingfisher, Taiga & Tundra Bean Geese, Daurian Redstart, Bull-headed Shrike, Daurian Jackdaw, Black-faced Spoonbill, Japanese Bush Warbler & chances of Pallas’s Rosefinch, Japanese Waxwings, Red-billed Starling, Scaly-sided Merganser, Japanese Quail, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Baer’s Pochard & Black Woodpecker.

Top Mammals

Sika Deer, Spotted Seal, Red Fox, Japanese Squirrel and Japanese Marten.

Habitats Covered

Temperate broad-leaved and coniferous forest, frozen lakes, coastline, wetlands and grasslands.

Expected Climate

Mild to very cold.

Comfortable minshukus (guest houses) & hotels.
Ease of Birding
Easy, often cold in Hokkaido.
Number of Species Expected
Photographic Opportunities

Tour Route

Tour Leader

Amar Ayyash

Amar Ayyash lives in the Chicago area where he combines his passions for teaching and birds. A well-known blogger and speaker, Amar is frequently found at wildlife festivals doing what he enjoys most: guiding others to new birds. An expert on gulls, Amar has authored a number of technical articles on the subject and remains dedicated to various projects throughout North America that aim to advance our knowledge of this family. He coordinates the annual Gull Frolic on Lake Michigan and serves on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Ornithological Society.

What our clients say about tours to Japan

  • Glen, as usual, was the best. This is our third trip with him and would not hesitate to do many more.

    DB & PB, Japan
  • Erik is a wonderful guide with great birding skills and the ability to help everyone possible see the bird. He is funny and has a pleasant manner to everyone at all times.

    EL, Japan