Kushiro, Land of the Japanese Cranes
08.02.2011 - 17.02.2011 0 °C
Travel period, Feb 8-17. We started our trip from Osaka, Japan. We took the Twilight Express train from Osaka to Sapporo (nice train with private cabins for 2) , supposedly Japan's response to the Orient Express. We had to add about 10,040 yen despite our 7Day JR Rail Pass. Buy bento box at Osaka station before departure - Bento on board dinner was expensive - 6000yen ($72) a bit steep. Left Osaka 11:50am and arrived in Sapporo the next day at 9:50am. Transferred to the Super Ozaru train for Kushiro- its a limited express train with minimal stops but still took about 4.5 hours to reach Kushiro. Then wait about 50 minutes for the connecting bus for Akan- get off Tancho No Sato bus stop after 1hr 20 minutes travel. Akai Ber (Red Beret) hotel/inn just across the bus stop. Simple and nice japanese ryokan type rooms- 10 tatami mat size-no private bath. Yet hardly any other guest so it felt very private.
Akan Crane Center(6000 yen per pax per night with japanese bento breakfast) is just across the hotel- about 400 meters away, 10 minutes walk due to snow & ice on the road. 400 yen entrance fee-- and voila you walk into the Tancho Observation deck and see a lot of japanese photographers with their Safari Lenses on their 35mm DSLRs- 600mm to 1000mm lenses. It was truly a site to behold. The Japanese Cranes roughly about 70-100 of them would fly in and take off time and again- beautiful images to be taken- the majestic birds had a field day flying in and out, doing the love dance and prancing in the snow. We were so pleased to spend 2 full days photographing the red crowned black necked cranes at the Akan Crane Center. There was a Tancho Observation center outside that protected us from the cold, small restaurant service-yummy japanese noodle soup was perfect for the cold weather.
Return to Kyoto via Sapporo, stopped in Sapporo to catch the Ice & Snow Festival- nothing great. Visited Tomamu- Alpha ski resort - nice resort- but the brochure we saw had a terrace above the clouds- only to find out that that scenery is during summer time only. Ok maybe next summer. The photo on the Alpha Resort brochure was truly amazing- breathtaking.
Took Shinkansen from Sapporo to Kyoto, left 7:30am arrived 8:15pm exactly. We were amazed with the punctuality of the Japanese JR train Sinkansen system- arrives on the station and leaves within seconds. I used Hyperdia.com to find the japanese train schedules.