Well, I just got back from my trip to Japan. It was an awesome trip, despite the fact that it was the warmest winter in over 100 years. The first part of the trip we headed to the Shiga Kogen Highland region just outside Nagano up in the mountains. This area is known for its natural hot springs. The Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata) or better known as the snow monkey is the only primate that lives that far north besides humans. We lucked out and on the first day we had snow. It was only the second time that winter it had snowed. To say the least I was so happy.

After staying in comfortable traditional Japanese accommodations and running around with monkeys for 5 days we headed to the northern island of Hokkaido. Here we photographed the Whooper Swans and then headed to the northern most point on Hokkaido. As we reached the Shiretoko Peninsula the temperature dropped and the winds picked up. There was a storm that was headed for us. I hoped that the pack ice in the Sea of Okhotsk would push down into the Nemuro Strait. At this point we are about 10 miles from the Russian islands, you could see them across the strait!

The next few days were spent photographing the amazing Steller's Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus pelagicus). This eagle on average is the heaviest eagle in the world, it is an amazing raptor. We spent a few days on land photographing them and then headed into the frozen Nemuro Strait on small fishing boats for 2 days photographing them as they used the pack ice to rest and also as a "look out".

After that amazing experience we headed into the interior of Hokkaido to the mountains and valleys north of Kushiro. The last part of our trip would be spent photographing the Red-Crowned Crane (Grus japonensis), also called the Japanese Crane and Manchurian Crane. It is a very large and is the second rarest crane in the world. With population numbers at 1,700 that makes it also one of the rarest birds in all of the world. We visited several sites near Akan and Tsuri and were able to document these regal cranes in some unique ways.

Well, after 14 days in the cold and wet weather of northern Japan, I returned home on a long flight with lots of great images and some good memories. I hope to head back to that part of the world again in the future, maybe Russia and the Kamchatka Peninsula. Please contact us if you're interested in experiencing Japan as I did and would like more information on how you can go on a trip like this.