JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

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.

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“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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Highlights.

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 the world’s largest fish 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 in the backstreets of Kyoto shooting Geisha.
Create a photo series inside a 1200 year old UNESCO pilgrimage site.

Itinerary.

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. Here, we’ll meet up with locals Ito and Mari, and start our Japan photography tour with a gentle walk to spots only locals know about – exploring craft factories, shrines, temples, small coffee roasters, Japanese sake bars, and art galleries – a view of the city far from the tourist trail.

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 Tsujuki, to photograph the tuna auctions in the world’s largest, busiest fish market. We’ll indulge in a sushi breakfast of the freshest fish on the planet, before going to Sunday church at the oldest temple in Tokyo – Senso-ji.

Later, we’ll swing by Yoyogi park to snap the dancing Elvis’s, then to Akihabara to tune into Japan’s bizarre otaku culture. There’s just time for a beer at a quaint izakaya bar before dinner at the Robot Restaurant, featuring a raucous pop-culture show with robotic monsters, dancers & lasers.

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 Ashi, a natural reflecting pool for Mt Fuji, which rises in the distance.

We’ll check into our modern ryokan, each room equipped with a private onsen pool facing the woods; 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 the day deep in 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 to 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. We’ll shoot the geisha or maiko (apprentice geisha) elegantly rushing down the street on their way to an appointment. Truly stunning.

Today, we depart a few hours 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.

We round off our tour of Japan with a final project, chance to put together all the skills you have learned on the trip, and show our final exhibition over a 12-course dinner. Whether you shoot the serene monks in saffron robes lighting incense and ringing bells, capture hypnotic morning chanting in the main hall, or photograph the stunning surroundings of this 1200 year old UNESCO site – this is a photographers paradise for all tastes.

Next morning, we complete our final 1-on-1’s, descend off the mountain and a short hop to Osaka airport, to catch an internal flight for your connection back home, reflecting on all your adventures during your 10-day Japan photography tour.

Details : Japan Photography Tour

10 – 19 May, 2019
Available

4 – 13 October, 2019
Available

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

£2900 / £395 single supplement

Price includes
9 nights boutique accommodation at listed hotels
10 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Professional guiding in Tokyo and Kyoto
All transfers to and from the airport
All transportation between shooting locations
All entrance passes to Temples, Ropeway, Onsen & National Parks
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights, lunch and dinner.

 

There are direct flights to Tokyo Haneda from the UK, serviced by British Airways, JAL and All Nippon Airlines. Prices start from £500. The internal flight from Osaka to Tokyo is around £50 one way.

"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