JAPAN IN SPRING
March 28 – April 7 2024
Very excited to invite you to a photography expedition in my dear country, Japan! Japan is a country with serenity and tradition, multifaceted and complex culture, non-stop flux of technology development. You will visit the 2 iconic cities, Tokyo and Kyoto. I would like to show you the deepest traditions as well as the extreme modernity. The photo opportunity is countless and abundant. The focus on this program is to hone your skill of story telling by capturing this unique culture and people. Spring is the most beautiful time of the year with the transient beauty of “Sakura” – Cherry Blossom. It would surely add the flavor to your images.
The culinary experience is also the highlight of this trip, tasting the variety of Japanese cuisine. Don’t forget “Wagashi”, the Japanese delicate sweets as well!
Tokyo: Capital of the country, a vibrant hub of everything. We stroll into every corner of this gigantic city, experience the tranquil tradition, the high-speed daily life of Tokyoites and immerse into “Otaku” culture.
Kyoto: Everything tradition, it’s in Kyoto. Striking temples, Zen rock gardens, mysterious Geisha, elegant Kaiseki dinner… You will be drawn back to ancient time of Japan. With the full bloom of Sakura, this exquisite city looks even more magical.
March. 28th (Thu) – April. 7th(Sun). 2024
Tokyo…. 4 nights (Mar. 28 – 31, Apr. 6 - 7.)
Kyoto…. 5 nights (Mar. 31 – 5.)
Mt. Koya…. 1 night (Apr. 5 – 6.)
Tokyo, Kyoto, Mt. Koya - 10 nights /11 days
double occupancy TBA (around $8,000)
single occupancy TBA (around $9,000)
Rates are per person, U.S. Dollars. Program rates include all accommodations, all ground transportation, some meals (see the itinerary), entrance fee for temples and gardens.
International Airfare to/from Tokyo
Airport transfer to/from hotel in Tokyo
Arrive in Tokyo Narita Airport at your convenient time. (or Haneda airport)
Transfer from the airport to hotel in Tokyo and check in.
We will meet at the hotel in the evening for welcome dinner and first presentation.
Hotel: Hyatt Regency Hotel, (Dinner)
Start the program by visiting Asakusa, the oldest districts in Tokyo. Sensouji, a Buddhist temple, and Kaminari-mon, a gate with giant lantern are breathtaking. Neighborhood used to be an entertainment district during Edo period (400 years ago !) and still maintains the atmosphere.
Lunch for “Okonomiyaki”, a popular pan fried food with selected toppings of meat, sea food, vegetable. Cook it ourselves on the iron griddle is fun and yummy !
World-famous electronics town is now the mecca of Japan’s “otaku-culture” such as anime and manga. It is a birth place of J-pop girls phenomenon and “maid-café”. We venture into Japan’s modern insanity !
Cherry Blossom at Meguro River:
Taking the photos of Cherry Blossom is one of the highlights of this trip. Hundreds of trees line up along Meguro River and the reflection of the illuminated flower shines like the jewel.
Hotel: Hyatt Regency Hotel, (Breakfast)
Imperial Palace with Cherry Blossom:
The moats and waterway in the Imperial Palace are also the mecca of the spring scenery. Boats can be rented to photograph the Cherry Blossom up close.
Japan’s biggest luxury and entertainment district with world-famous fashion brands and
department stores. Great place to photograph the architectural beauty as well as high-fashion street scenes.
The most authentic experience in Tokyo is watching Kabuki - the compelling art form.
Vibrant town with youth fashion and culture. The largest intersection, “Shibuya Scramble Crossing”, is the iconic spot. Let’s capture this “organized chaos” !
Hotel: Hyatt Regency Hotel, (Breakfast)
Depart Tokyo to Kyoto by “Shinkansen” (Bullet Train - 2.5h ride).
Transfer from the station and check in the hotel.
Start the journey in Kyoto by visiting the temple with incredible 1000 statues of Kannon (Buddhist goddess). Temple was built in 1164 and the main hall containing the statures is 120 meter (393 feet) long, the longest wooden structure in the world.
Night shoot at Toji Temple:
Toji, one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites, is famous for 5-story pagoda and stunning night view of cherry blossom.
Hotel: Hotel Resol Kyoto, (Breakfast, Lunch)
The district with historic sites and the scenic beauty of mountain and river. Early morning, we stroll along the majestic “Bamboo Path”, the most photogenic sight in Kyoto. “Tenryuji Temple” and “Togetsukyo Bridge”, both are famous for its splendid landscape.
This Zen Buddhist temple is called “Moss Temple”, surrounded by serenity and tranquility. The gardens are covered by 120 variety of moss.
Visiting “Machiya”, traditional wooden townhouse or “Ochaya”, the tea house where Geisha entertain the guests, you will taste the cultural heritage of Kyoto. Geisha, called “Geiko” or “Maiko” in Kyoto, will make tea ceremony and performance.
Welcome dinner at “Kaiseki” restaurant, Japanese multi-course haute cuisine.
Hotel: Hotel Resol Kyoto, (Breakfast, Dinner)
Famous for its “Rock Garden”, this Zen Buddhist temple will give you absolute spiritual and meditative experience.
Gion, Kyoto’s traditional Geisha district, has not changed much in the past 300 years. Geisha establishment, tea houses and restaurants dot the streets. “Geiko” or “Maiko” might be seen on their way to work on the street. We stroll the back alley and visit some traditional craft stores as well.
Night shoot on the street:
Backstreets of Gion change the faces as the night advances. Lantern-lit “Machiya” look shining and Sakura trees hang gracefully over the river and cobblestones.
Hotel: Hotel Resol Kyoto, (Breakfast)
Fushimi Inari Shrine:
Famous for its pathway lined with thousands of red-colored “Torii” gates (it is believed to divide our world and the sprit world), one of the most photogenic sites in Kyoto.
Fushimi is Kyoto’s “Sake” district, with about 40 breweries. What about tasting freshly made sake….don’t get drunk yet !
Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, the long and narrow street is packed with hundreds shops of Japanese sweets, seasonal foods, pickles and seafood. Best place to practice the interactive photos with the local people.
Hotel: Hotel Resol Kyoto, (Breakfast)
Rural Villages in Kyoto:
Escaping from the crowded city, we will drive around the rural Kyoto. Miyama village is a jewel in the mountain, called “little Kyoto in the forest”. You can experience time slip to 100 years ago rural Japan landscape with old thatched roof houses and rice field. The village offers simple yet colorful flavor lunch with local ingredients.
Hotel: Hotel: Hotel Resol Kyoto, (Breakfast )
Depart Kyoto to Mt. Koya by vehicle (2.5h ).
It is a headquarter of “Shingon Buddhism”, most sacred sect originated early 9th century. The original monastery has grown into the town of “Koya”, now consisting of 120 temples. “Kongobuji”, the head temple, and “Okunoin”, mausoleum surround by graveyard, are serene and stunning.
Many of the temples offer lodging to pilgrims (called “Shukubo”). We will stay one of them, tasting monk’s simple but profound lifestyle, eating vegetarian cuisine, attending religious activities, sleeping on “tatami” floor…deep cultural experience.
Hotel: Sanman-in Temple, (Breakfast, Dinner)
Start the day by morning prayer, followed by breakfast.
Noon, depart Mt. Koya to Osaka by vehicle ( 2h drive) and take “Shinkansen” (Bullet Trail) back to Tokyo.
Hotel: Hilton Tokyo Odaiba, (Breakfast, Dinner)
“The itineraries are subject to modified and changed. We will try all our effort to operate programs as planned, but alterations may still occur based on the weather and other conditions.”
“ It was a chance to experience Japan through the eyes of a professional photographer and a native Japanese and we really enjoyed your personality and sense of humor ! Unique experience….sights, sounds, sensation you would not have thought possible.“
( Marie Schappert, Massachusetts, USA)
“ Photo opportunities were great in both Kyoto and Tokyo. Both were different, but both provided ample opportunities to capture great images.“
( Jamie Mciuszek, Georgia, USA)
“ Absolutely satisfied experience, great balance of old & new, the traditional side of Japan as well as the modernity of the country! I have been to Tokyo & Japan many times but have never had the opportunity to focus on photography so wanted to have a photographic trip in Japan….“ ( Chip Webb, Massachusetts, USA)
“ Great variety of photo opportunities, from temples in Kyoto to extreme modernity in Tokyo, from Shinkansen to Shingon Buddhism... your itinerary was truly phenomenal. I can’t believe how much we experienced and how many rich moments and wonderful memories we have to cherish as a result. “
( Erica Keller, Michigan USA)
“ Really appreciate your time and effort that went in to design and implement this amazing trip….well balanced and challenging enough to be fun and informative ! “
( Ian Calhaem, New Zealand)