Nature guide Makoto Ando:
Taking you on a journey of miraculous moments

Nature Guide


Makoto Ando was born in Sapporo in 1964.
Mr. Ando was an explorer from a young age, cycling around the whole of Hokkaido when he was in junior high school. He believes that education makes a person, and spent 12 years as a social studies teacher at juku (schools providing afterschool tutoring) and yobiko (schools for high school graduates who are studying full time to pass university entrance examinations) after graduating university. He then worked in positions such as a carpentry apprenticeship before opening Wilderness Lodge Hickory Wind in 1999. His contributions as a nature guide are extremely valuable, earning him a reputation as a guide who shows tourists just what they want to see.
*2018 Nature’s Best Photography ASIA Movie Winner and Semi Grand Prize Winner
(he has won every year since 2016, as well as in 2014)

Owner and Guide of Wilderness Lodge Hickory Wind
Master Guide Certified by the Governor of Hokkaido
Nikon Professional Service Member
Swarovski Optik Support Professional Guide
Certified by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) as a Business Using Local Resources


"To keep the flow continuous, we have to cherish every chance."

An outdoor master guide certified by the Hokkaido government, Makoto Ando runs the evocatively named Hickory Wind lodge in Tsurui, a village around 45 minutes by car from Kushiro Station. Hickory Wind receives many repeat guests from Hokkaido, other parts of Japan and even overseas!

"Chance is what keeps us all in balance. If we honor each chance encounter, then the flow can continue", Mr. Ando explains with a gentle expression. "The most important thing is to make sure there is always chance encounter and water." Mr. Ando is not one to waste things: outside his gallery is a motorcycle that he has cherished for over 30 years, and the precious guitar by his side has been in his life for just as long.

Mr. Ando does not stick to one route in his guiding work. He gets on the wavelength of each guest and shows them just the kind of scenery they want to see so that every guest enjoys a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even when he takes them on a canoe trip down the river, he makes sure that guests are facing the right direction to easily see the scenery. Sometimes he'll take you trekking off the beaten track, where you can enjoy the nature without another soul in sight.

"If you treasure everyday miracles, they will come to you" is Mr. Ando's motto, and miraculous moments are in no short supply on his tours. You'll stop short at some of the sights he shows you, and you won't be able to resist coming back for more.

Taking you on a journey of miraculous moments

Snow White

Taking you on a journey of miraculous moments

"The color white only occurs when all every light wave is reflected.

Extremely few things in nature are completely white, but some of these rare treasures can be seen in Hokkaido, such as the red-crowned crane. Often mistaken for a migratory bird, these symbols of the eastern Hokkaido winter live in the area all year round: they are simply more visible in winter. They raise their young from spring to autumn, and in winter can often be seen flying around and doing their mating dance in the snowy fields or amid the falling snow. Red-crowned cranes are one of the only completely white things in nature, and I am struck by their beauty. I cannot take my eyes off them - the purity of their color, their unparalleled elegance and grace. They show the strength and fragility of nature. Red-crowned cranes preen frequently, and the dignity with which they tend to those pure white feathers shows just how they came to be named Sarorun Kamuy (Ainu for "gods of the wetland"). In a way, the pairing of the snowy scenery and red-crowned cranes is the ultimate spectacle of those rare completely white things created by nature." (From Ordinary Miracles, an essay collection by Makoto Ando)

Second prize winner in the 2015 Nature's Best Photography Contest

Photographing bears: capturing bears' own philosophy

Ainu is spoken in various regional dialects. In one, bears are called Kimun Kamuy. As kimun means "bountiful mountain" and kamuy means "god", this means that bears are considered mountain gods. Mr. Ando takes this to heart, and is of the opinion that when he photographs a bear, that photo represents the bountiful mountains and everything that lives there - the trees, the grasses, the insects. Mr. Ando takes every photo with a sense of gratitude and respect for all life, and each of his photos of the area's flora and fauna is pulsing with life.

Taking you on a journey of miraculous moments




Setsurigenya Kita 14 Sen Higashi, Tsurui, Akan District, Hokkaido
Tel. 0154-64-2956
Fax. 0154-64-2956