EPIC JAPAN - SOUTHERN ISLANDS CRUISE

This unique tour visits Japan in the springtime when hordes of migrants are passing through the various islands and headlands and summer breeding species are arriving and setting up territories. In fact, this is a tour like no other! The first part of our epic tour will see us birding on the main island of Honshu where we will visit the marshes near Imbanuma & Omigawa for Green Pheasant, Japanese Marsh Warbler, Japanese Reed Bunting before we head to Mount Fuji. Amidst this stunning landscape we will be primarily looking for Japanese Leaf Warbler and Japanese Yellow Bunting. However, breeding species here include Red-flanked Bluetail, Northern Hawk Cuckoo, Japanese, Brown-headed & Siberian Thrushes, Blue-and-white & Narcissus Flycatchers, Siberian Blue Robin and Eastern-crowned Leaf Warbler amongst many others. We will then have an overnight ferry crossing to the island of Miyake-Jima where species such as Japanese Woodpigeon, Owston's Tit, Ijima's Leaf Warbler, Styan's Grasshopper Warbler, Izu Thrush and Izu Robin can be found. The return crossing gives us our first opportunity to see Laysan & Black-footed Albatross, and Short-tailed & Streaked Shearwaters

Following an overnight stop in Tokyo we will board the cruise ship the following day, and have two full days at sea as we head south to Taiwan. We are, of course, hoping for Short-tailed Albatross, whilst other possibilities include Bonin & Bulwer's Petrels, Short-tailed, Wedge-tailed & Streaked Shearwaters, possibly Bannerman's Shearwater, Tristram's, Matsudaira's, Band-rumped and Swinhoe's Storm-Petrels, Red-footed & Brown Boobies, White-tailed & Red-tailed Tropicbirds and Black Noddy amongst others. We have two shore excursions around Taiwan, where we hope to catch up with a good selection of endemics such as Mikado & Swinhoe's Pheasants, Taiwan Barbet, Collared Bush-Robin, Taiwan Fulvetta, Taiwan Yuhina, Taiwan Barwing and White-eared Sibia. As we sail north we will look forward to a great stop on Ishigaki Island where Ryukyu Green-Pigeon, Ryukyu Serpent-Eagle, Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher, Ryukyu Minivet, Ryukyu Flycatcher and 
Iriomote & Ishigaki Tit are present. The next day we visit Okinawa and drive north to an area that holds Okinawa Rail, Okinawa Woodpecker and Okinawa Robin - we will need a good deal of luck to catch up with all 3 species! There's a further two more days seawatching from the cruise ship to find some rare seabirds in waters that have rarely been explored by birders - so who knows what is lurking behind those waves? 

Once back in Tokyo, there's the option of 5 days on the northern island of Hokkaido. There's another short boat trip that will give us chances of Laysan & Black-footed Albatross, Spectacled Guillemot, Ancient & Japanese Murrelets, Rhinoceros Auklet and Tufted Puffin, as well as other pelagic species in the right weather conditions. The marshes and wetlands of Hokkaido are home to breeding Red-crowned Cranes, Latham's Snipe, Lanceolated Warbler, Middendorff's & Sakhalin Grasshopper Warblers and others. We should find Hazel Grouse, Japanese and sometimes Red-faced Cormorants, Brunnich's Guillemot, Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker, Sakhalin Leaf Warbler, Japanese Robin, White's Thrush and more. Oh and as a grand finale, how about Blakiston's Fish-Owl? What a tour!!

So often we birders leave our loved ones or 'significant other' behind whilst we fly off to chase our dream birds and we get to experience many different countries our partners would tell us they would love to visit also but without the early mornings or strains of keeping up with us and our group whilst birding. This tour is the perfect excuse for all  non-birding partners to join us on our travels whilst we enjoy our birding and they can take advantage of the amenities of this fabulous cruise ship. There is no charge for non-birding partners to join this tour only the cost of the cabin which can be arranged through our dedicated group contact at Princess Cruises. A non-birding Zoothera representative will also be onboard to assist with any non-birding activities and enquiries.

For a chance to see these amazing birds from the comfort of a full working cruise ship, please register your interest with the Zoothera office. 

JAPAN SOUTHERN ISLAND CRUISE 2025
Fri 16th - Sun 25th May 2025

Honshu & Miyake-Jima Pre-tour ext:
9th - 15th May

Hokkaido Post-tour ext:
25th - 30th May

KEY SPECIES

Here are just a few of the key species we will be targetting on this tour:

  • Pacific Diver
  • Black Scoter
  • Harlequin Duck
  • Green Pheasant
  • Copper Pheasant
  • Mikado Pheasant
  • Swinhoe's Pheasant
  • Hazel Grouse
  • Japanese Cormorant
  • Red-faced Cormorant (rare)
  • Red-crowned Crane
  • Okinawa Rail
  • Short-tailed Albatross
  • Laysan Albatross
  • Black-footed Albatross
  • Tristram’s Storm Petrel
  • Matsudaira’s Storm Petrel
  • Swinhoe's Storm Petrel
  • Band-rumped Storm Petrel
  • Streaked Shearwater
  • Short-tailed Shearwater
  • Bulwer's Petrel
  • Bonin's Petrel?
  • Ryukyu Serpent-Eagle
  • Pigeon Guillemot
  • Brunnich's Guillemot
  • Spectacled Guillemot
  • Ancient Murrelet
  • Japanese Murrelet
  • Rhinoceros Auklet
  • Tufted Puffin
  • Latham's Snipe
  • Blakiston's Fish Owl
  • Ryukyu Green-Pigeon
  • Japanese Woodpigeon
  • Okinawa Woodpecker
  • Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker
  • Japanese Green Woodpecker
  • Taiwan Barbet
  • Bull-headed Shrike
  • xx
  • Izu Thrush
  • Brown-headed Thrush
  • Japanese Thrush
  • Japanese Robin
  • Okinawa Robin
  • Izu Robin
  • Taiwan Shortwing
  • Collared Bush-Robin
  • Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher
  • Ryukyu Flycatcher
  • Ryukyu Minivet
  • Stejneger's Stonechat
  • Varied Tit
  • Ishigaki Tit
  • Iriomote Tit
  • Owston's Tit
  • Steere's Liocichla
  • White-whiskered Laughingthrush
  • Taiwan Wren-Babbler
  • Japanese Marsh Warbler
  • Lanceolated Warbler
  • Sakhalin Leaf Warbler
  • Middendorff's Grasshopper Warbler
  • Sakhalin Grasshopper Warbler
  • Styan's Grasshopper Warbler
  • Ijima's Leaf Warbler
  • Japanese Leaf Warbler
  • Flamecrest
  • Taiwan Fulvetta
  • Taiwan Yuhina
  • White-eared Sibia
  • Japanese Wagtail
  • Chestnut-cheeked Starling
  • Japanese Accentor
  • Siberian Long-tailed Rosefinch
  • Japanese Grosbeak
  • Japanese Yellow Bunting
  • Japanese Reed Bunting
  • Grey Bunting
White's Thrush
White's Thrush

Leaders:  Nick Bray and local guides. 

Zoothera Tour Cost:  £tba
Zoothera Tour Cost non-birding partner: £0.00 
Tour Cost Honshu pre-cruise ext: £tba
Tour Cost Hokkaido post-cruise ext: £tba
Cabin Price:  2 berth outside cabin with window from £1,200 per person (twin share) - please ask our office for details as cabin costs vary..

Airfare: £995.00 - £1250.00 (Approx) - Tokyo/Tokyo

Honshu Pre-cruise Single Supplement: £tba
Hokkaido Post-cruise Single Supplement: £tba

Zoothera Deposit: £500.00 
Cabin Deposit: varies from £50 - £200 with final balance due 3 months before departure

Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 6.

Included in cost:  all meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 9 of cruise (food available onboard 24 hours a day), all entrance fees, all transport throughout, 4 land-based excursions, and services of leaders and an English speaking guide. All meals included with both pre & post extensions.

Not included: International airfare, accommodation in a variety of cabins - to be booked direct with cruise company, drinks,  visa fee, insurance, tips & crew gratuities, WIFI and items of a personal nature.

Accommodation:  Comfortable cabins on-board the Diamond Princess, with a range of prices and styles to suit all. Cabins starting at £1,250 pp (twin share). But please check the Princess Cruise website as cabin costs fluctuate according to their latest promotions.

Booking: Please email or ring the Zoothera office for availability and we can answer any questions and discuss cabin options etc.