Visit ancient shrines, bathe in onsen, shoot Geisha, and meet Elvis. You won’t want to say sayōnara …



Japan is a world apart – a wonderful little planet floating off the coast of China – its ancient culture a bounty of riches. From the grace of golden-robed monks at dawn to the ethereal beauty of a Zen rock garden, Japan has the power to enthral any traveller.

This is a place to leave your comfort zone without being uncomfortable. Whether it’s staying in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), soaking in a bubbling onsen (hot spring) or gazing at the apparition of a geisha, Japan offers regular doses of ‘wow’ against a backdrop of ultra-modern comfort.

From a stay in a temple at a 1200-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site, grooving with Elvis in Yoyogi park, eating divine morsels in our pick of Japan’s tiny gastropubs, to glimpsing sacred Mount Fuji from bubbling hot springs – you’ll get behind the scenes of this country, both new and old on our Japan photography tour.


“Creative Escapes takes everyday travel experiences to an inspiring new level. You’ll learn new creative skills, meet like-minded folk and traipse off the beaten path for a holiday to remember. The experienced guides are photography gurus and passionate travellers, who will lead you to the hippest hotels and the prettiest locations on the quirkiest of adventures. Fun is foremost so there is never a dull moment”

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Combining ancient culture with exquisite natural landscapes and dazzling modernity, the Asian nation is stirring an increasing number of travellers’ souls. There has always been a fascination about getting ‘lost in translation’ when it comes to travel, and there’s really no better place to do this than Japan. This is a country where the past meets the future. It can seem full of contradictions – Japanese culture stretches back millennia, yet has also been quick to adopt and create technology, fashion and art.

Our Japan Photography Tour of the “Land of the Rising Sun” curates our pick of the most photogenic hotspots, takes you behind the scenes to get a closer look, and mixes old with new like no other.

On our Japan Photography Tour, you’ll learn to:
Perfect the art of street photography in the most vibrant city on the planet
Gain new skills in low light photography – just after dusk when colours ping
Create narrative-led monochromes inside Kyoto’s famous market.
Understand insider tips on travel photography to make your images stand out.
Practice landscapes at 4,000ft fronting sacred Mount Fuji.
Hone your decisive moment on a private portrait photoshoot with a maiko, a trainee geisha.
Create a photo series inside a 1200 year old UNESCO pilgrimage site.

How many guests are on each tour? – We only take a maximum of 10 on each tour, per tutor. That way, you can get lots of 1-to-1 guidance from your tutor, learn at your own pace – so you produce photographs that are personal to you.

What’s included on the tour? – We price things pretty simply, all accommodation, tours, tuition, materials, entrance passes and 1-to-1 sessions are included, only flights and meals are extra.

What’s the level of accommodation? – Our hotels are comfortable as we know for you to get the most out of a trip you need to relax and sleep. We pick boutique, interesting, usually smaller and off the beaten track or located to be handy for a planned experience.

How is Creative Escapes different? – Many photography holidays teach you someone else’s style. We teach you to shoot like you – all tuition is done 1-to-1, so you create unique images that are personal to you.

How do I book flights? – To save you money, our team scours the internet to find the best quality flights at the lowest possible price, arrive early and depart late, so you get the maximum amount of time of your holiday on the ground.

I’m a beginner, is this for me? – Around 50% of guests on each tour are beginners, we get some who buy the camera in duty-free. Since we teach you individually, you can develop your skills at your own pace.

How fit do I need to be on your tours? – We plan our tours for all fitness levels, so you can either be dropped right at the location or tour around a little to get your bearings.

What kit do I need? – We always say, bring what you have or can borrow. We spend much of the tour working with you 1-to-1 working out what type of photographer you are, so only then will you really know what kit you really need that suits you.

I’m a vegetarian – do you cater for that? – We like to choose restaurants locals would eat at, that way you feel more traveller less tourist. All of our choices feature a good selection of menu options to suit vegetarians, pescatarians, gluten-free and dairy-free.

How do I book? – Simply click on the Book button on the trip page, or the shopping cart icon on the home page – fill in your details and we’ll do the rest!



We’ll meet you fresh off the plane at Tokyo Haneda and into our boutique hotel in eastern downtown, where Tokyo’s modern cityscape intersects with the charm of old Edo. We start our Japan photography tour with a gentle walk to spots only locals know about – exploring craft factories, shrines, temples, small coffee roasters – a view of the city far from the tourist trail – so you start to feel like a local, not a tourist.

Next morning, we’ll dive into some skills in street photography, then tour the hotspots of the city by metro, from the edgy street fashion culture of Harajuku, catch a wedding by the Meiji shrine then shoot the famous Shibuya crossing at dusk. We’ll round off the day with a well-deserved cocktail at the bar on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt, made famous by the 2003 film ‘Lost in Translation’.

Up early this morning to Sunday church – to Senso-ji. It is the oldest Buddhist temple in the capital, and five-story pagoda, trails of incense and vast eaves will take you back to a Tokyo of time gone by.

Later, we’ll swing by Akihabara to tune into Japan’s bizarre otaku culture, then over to the glitzy Kabuchiko, a district of Shinjuku – full of neon, and to Golden Gai, a local yokocho, a maze of narrow streets that look straight off the set of Blade Runner – the perfect urban night shoot. There’s just time for a beer at a quaint izakaya bar and some snacks before taking a look at the best shots of the day.

Today, we’ll head west a few hours to Hakone, Tokyo’s favourite escape. It’s a Japanese ideal: a land of onsen (natural hot springs) and jagged, misty mountains. At the centre is calm, cool Lake Kawaguchi, a natural reflecting pool for Mt Fuji, which rises in the distance.

We’ll check into our modern hotel, equipped with a rooftop indoor mineral onsen pool with direct views of Fuji; our base to explore this spectacular region. We’ll ascend the Hakone Ropeway to the Owakudani crater, a mountaintop volcano with steam vents and bubbling pools; the views of sacred Mount Fuji are to die for.

We start early this morning, with a misty view of Fuji, chance to shoot some incredible vistas in soft light, then, if time permits (and you’re brave enough), we descend deep into the Hakone forests, for a dip in the hot springs at Tenzan Onsen – terraced natural outdoor pools at the foot of a wooded slope, with a stunning traditional style bath house.

Then, we depart south to Kōya-san – a raised tableland covered with thick forests and surrounded by eight peaks – the major attraction here is the Kōya-san monastic complex. One of Japan’s most rewarding destinations, for the natural setting of the area and the opportunity to stay in temples, we’ll get a glimpse of long-held traditions of Japanese life – shooting the morning offering at Okunoin Temple, witness 10,000 lanterns lit floor to ceiling at Torodo Hall, and snap the magical Shingon Buddhist fire ceremony.

We stay in a shokubo – cozy temple accommodation originally for Buddhist priests – with stunning cuisine, in house spa, and incredible views from each room.

Up early, we’re out before dawn to shoot the serene monks in saffron robes lighting incense and ringing bells, capture hypnotic morning chanting in the main hall, then photographing the stunning surroundings of this 1200 year old UNESCO site – this is a photographers paradise for all tastes.

Later, you’ll dine together in the main hall, resplendent in your yutaka robes, enjoying a bento box of edible delights, before a snooze in the most unique hotel room you ever stayed in.

Then to our final stop at Kyoto. With its rich colours, tradition, history and culture, Kyoto is a city that allows visitors a glimpse into the past: atmospheric temples, sublime gardens, traditional teahouses and geisha scurrying to secret liaisons. We check into our designer hotel in the heart of Gion, the stunning geisha district, then take a tour early evening through the ancient cobbled streets, before a review of the shots of the day.

Kyoto happens to have one of the world’s largest collections of UNESCO World Heritage sites; so today, we learn the inside track to on professional travel photography to shoot travel shots that stand out from the pack.

We first head west to shoot the other-worldy Arashiyama bamboo grove, catch the glinting Kinkaku-Ji, – the Zen temple’s top two floors are completely covered in brilliant gold leaf creating a magnificent view against a bright blue sky and lush green garden. Towards dusk, we head to Fushimi Inari, Japan’s most famous shrine, on a hidden hike far from tourist eyes, exploring secluded trails that lead through to thousands of vibrant tori gates set against bamboo and beautiful evergreens. There’s just time for some street food and a chilled glass of something at a local izakaya to complete the day.

Time to flex your documentary and portraiture skills today, starting at the 400 year old Nishiki Market in Gion, which is known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen” by the locals. The vibrant and atmospheric market is the best traditional food market in the city and is lined with stalls offering tasty goodies such as yakitori, tempura and sashimi.

Later, we tour the backstreets around Pontocho Dori, famous for its geisha and traditional Japanese tea houses. And then one of the highlights of our tour, a private photoshoot in a 16th century temple of a stunning geisha or maiko (apprentice geisha). We’ll be on hand to help create your set, shoot your idea and enjoy one of the most memorable photoshoots you’ll ever experience. Truly stunning.

Finally, we round off our tour with a show of our finest images, before heading out to celebrate in the mazy backstreets of old Kyoto. Next morning, it’s time for a last bit of shopping, before we head to the airport and fly home.

Details : Japan Photography Tour

4 – 13 October, 2024

9 – 18 May, 2025
**8 Places Left**

3 – 12 October, 2025
**10 Places Left**

10 days. 9 nights. Starts in Tokyo and ends in Kyoto.

£3500 / £395 single supplement

Price includes
9 nights boutique accommodation at listed hotels (or similar)
10 days tuition from our professional photographer/guide
Portrait shoot with a Maiko, a Geisha apprentice
Group transfers from the airport on suggested flights
All transportation between shooting locations
All entrance passes to Temples & National Parks
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights & meals.


There are direct flights to Tokyo Haneda from the UK, serviced by British Airways, JAL and All Nippon Airlines. Prices start from £500. We recommend flying return & direct with BA or JAL arriving Haneda on day 1, both around 0700, so you start the tour early. As the trip ends in Kyoto, you can either fly back from there, or we recommend getting a return to Tokyo, which is cheaper, and take the bullet train back to Tokyo which is around £70 one way – another experience to add to your journey.

“Fabulous locations, amazing hotels & great memories. Thanks to Creative Escapes I have moved from taking a gazillion bland photographs to images I am really proud of. Already thinking about my next trip!”

Lorraine Byrne, Dublin


Simply complete the form to book a trip of a lifetime.


Package includes
9 nights boutique accommodation at listed hotels (or similar)
10 days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Portrait shoot with a Maiko, a Geisha apprentice
Group transfers to and from the airport on suggested flights
All transportation between shooting locations
All entrance passes to Temples & National Parks
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions
Price excludes flights & meals.

Additional information
Single Supplement - £395

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17 – 26 October, 2025

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