The Tokugawa Ieyasu Shrine in Nikko, Japan

A visit to the shrine or mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan for more than 250 years between 17th and 19th century. A UNESCO World Heritage Site. 05 December 2011.

Tokyo International Airport (Haneda – HND)

Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport HND) is a huge pleasure to use. It has three terminals connected via the efficient Tokyo Monorail, which also links them to the Yamanote (Green) Line for easy access to Tokyo Station. The terminals are beautifully designed with loads of amenities. The open-air Observation Decks are a must for plane-spotters.

The Japanese Dancing Cranes of Kushiro

09 December 2011. A visit to Kushiro Shitsugen National Park in eastern Hokkaido in search of the majestic Dancing Cranes aka Japanese Crane aka Red-crowned Crane, sp. Grus japonensis, an icon of Japan. Very rare, only about 1000 birds now live in Japan. Long journey from Sapporo — a 4-hr express train ride to Kushiro, then a 1-hr bus trip to the site in Tsurumidai, just before Tsurui village. Worth it all!

The Snow Monkeys of Nagano

11 December 2011. A visit to Jigokudani Yaen-koen, some 35km northeast of Nagano city, to see the fascinating Snow Monkeys. A long way to get there. An express bus ride from Nagano Station takes 50min to a stop near the park. Then another 40min walk along a village road followed by a 1.6km trail into the forest. Definitely an experience not to be missed.

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