Tsurui Village, known as the most beautiful village in Japan, is not only recognized for its landscapes but as a gathering place for Japanese red-crowned cranes.
To see these magnificent birds in Tsurui Village, you can go to these three most-recommended spots most recommended:
Tsurui-Ito Tancho Sanctuary
In February, you might be able to see the cranes’ mating dance as well!
■Access: From Kushiro Airport, take the Akan Bus (Tsurui・Hororo Line) to Tsurumidai (about 1h)
The Snow Monkeys, Hakodate
Today we’re introducing you to the snow monkeys of Hakodate who, like us humans, enjoy a dip in the hot springs 🐒
At the Hakotade Tropical Botanical Gardens, located near Hakodate Airport, you can see snow monkeys soaking their sorrows away from December through May. These cute creatures love the warm springs of Yunokawa Onsen – and they are a delight to watch splash, play and relax in the water.
Other fun spots inside the garden include greenhouses filled with tropical plants as well as footbaths to stay warm.
■Period to see the snow monkeys: Dec 1–May 5 (until the last day of Golden Week)
■Business hours: 9:30–16:30 (Dec–Mar); 9:30–18:00 (Apr-May)
■Address: 3-1-15 Yugawa-cho, Hakodate
■Access: Take the shuttle bus from Hakodate Airport bound for Yunogawa Onsen (approx. 15 mins). From the bus stop, walk 5 minutes. Alternatively, drive for about 10 minutes from Hakodate Airport.
■Spot Introduction: https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/what-to-do/hakodate-tropical-botanical-garden
Penguin Walk, Asahiyama Zoo
In winter, you must see the adorable Penguin Walk at Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa, Hokkaido. When the weather is cold, the penguins at Asahiyama Zoo tend to lack in exercise and get out of shape. As a prevention measure (and a cute one at that) regular strolls around the zoo are held to keep them fit and get them ready for the breeding season. It’s the cutest sight you can see in Hokkaido.
■Location: Asahiyama Zoo
■Business hours: 10:30–15:30 (until Apr 7)
■Access: From Asahikawa Station, take the bus no.41 or 47 bound for Asahiyama Zoo) for 40 minutes
■Spot Introduction: https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/what-to-do/asahiyama-zoo
Watching Swans, Lake Kussharo
Have you ever seen swans gather to take a bath? That’s the kind of scenery you can witness at Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido. During winter, swans from Siberia fly to and gather around the hot springs to stay warm. Of course, there are hot springs available for travelers as well.
Relax while observing the swans rest in the white, wintery landscape.
■When to see swans at Lake Kussharo: From late November until April
■Spot Introduction: https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/what-to-do/lake-kussharo
Wild Animals, The Notsuke Peninsula
The Notsuke Peninsula is a wildlife-lover’s paradise!
Located between the Shiretoko and Nemuro Peninsulas, the 26km long Notsuke Peninsula is Japan’s longest sand spit. A safe haven for a vast variety of wildlife, you may even be able to experience close encounters with animals such as Ezo red foxes and Ezo deer, which can only be seen in Hokkaido! If you’re lucky you may even catch a glimpse of adorable scenes such as cute red foxes playing in the snow, so be sure to take a camera!
The Notsuke Peninsula if also great for birdwatching! A protected wetland listed under the Ramsar convention, a number of rare wild birds such as the Steller’s sea eagle, White-tailed eagle and even the Japanese red-crowned crane, symbolic bird of Japan, can be seen in the Notsuke Peninsula during the year. Of all of the birds in Japan, around 40 percent (around 250 species) can be seen in the Notsuke Peninsula alone!
■Notsuke Peninsula Nature Center: http://notsuke.jp/
■Access: Around 140 minutes by car from Kushiro, or 50 minutes from Nakashibetsu Airport
*Please note that recently there have been a rise in the number of road accidents involving wild animals such as deer. If you choose to visit the Notsuke Peninsula by rent-a-car, please drive with caution!