Following on from many successful spring seasons in Japan, we are delighted to be returning to the country for autumn 2021, a magical time of year when the landscapes burst into colour with the arrival of the autumn leaves. Our unique voyage aboard the all-suite MS Island Sky focuses on the island of Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost and least developed island which is often considered by the Japanese to be the country’s last frontier and is a world away from the traditional view of Japan. Only colonised by Japan in the past 150 years, we won’t find a land of ancient temples and shrines or developed cities with skyscrapers but instead large swathes of wild, open spaces, primeval forests, crystal clear lakes, beautiful alpine flowers, active volcanoes and bubbling hot springs. We will also spend time on Honshu visiting the former Feudal town of Hirosaki, the spectacular Towada Hachimantai National Park and Oirase Gorge.
During our time cruising around the remarkable island of Hokkaido, we will explore nature trails, watch for wildlife in the national parks, learn more of the indigenous Ainu people and hopefully see landscapes burst into colour with the arrival of the autumn leaves that should coincide with our visit. More than two million acres on Hokkaido are dedicated to national parkland and we will visit some of the most remarkable including the Shiretoko National Park located on the north eastern tip of the island and which in Ainu means ‘end of the world’. UNESCO has called it one of the richest integrated ecosystems in the world and in 2005 designated it as a World Heritage Site. We will have a full day to explore the national park, home to brown bears, Yezo sika deer and red fox whilst birders can keep an eye out for Steller sea eagles, Blakiston fish owl and white-tailed eagles. We also visit the Kushiro Marshlands, home of Hokkaido’s resident red-crowned cranes, Japan’s iconic bird known as the bird of happiness and the lakes of central Hokkaido including beautiful Lake Akan.
Helping us understand all we will see and experience, and travelling with us throughout the voyage, will be our expert naturalist, our knowledgeable Guest Speaker and three Japanese guides, all adding immeasurably to your enjoyment and understanding of this fascinating country.