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JAPAN

Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, Himeji, Shibuya and more

Discover the magic and mystery of Japan.

The world is becoming homogenized more every day. With modern communication and technology, countries are starting to blend together. But amidst all this world-shrinking, Japan still maintains a very unique identity that is unmatched by any of its neighbors. Even if you visit the country just briefly, you’ll come away with a strong appreciation of all things Japanese. Things are just done differently here. Come and see for yourself.

Our adventure in Japan will give us many experiences that are just not seen anywhere else in the world. We’ll visit Japanese castles, spend time with Geishas and Sumo wrestlers, eat sushi that will numb your tongue, visit calm zen gardens and temples, and ride the rails at breakneck speeds. Japan’s curious blend of tradition and modern is unlike anything you’d experience anywhere else. 

This adventure is designed not only to guide you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light, but to aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Our aim is to raise your awareness and spark your creativity so that you not only go home with images to be proud of, but use your new found skills to improve and expand your photographic technique in general. Apart from the technical aspect of learning your camera settings and capabilities, you will learn how to turn an ordinary image into an extraordinary image by using your own creativity. 

In addition, you will become knowledgeable on how to survey the landscape, utilize and approach your environment, photograph people indigenous to the region and the cultural considerations and challenges of photographing in a foreign country. Our time together will include individual and group discussions, inspiring ideas and great fun. Join us in Japan for the adventure of a lifetime.

Our adventure in Japan will give us many experiences that are just not seen anywhere else in the world. We’ll visit Japanese castles, spend time with Geishas and Sumo wrestlers, eat sushi that will numb your tongue, visit calm zen gardens and temples, and ride the rails at breakneck speeds. Japan’s curious blend of tradition and modern is unlike anything you’d experience anywhere else. 

This adventure is designed not only to guide you to the most photogenic locations carefully planned for the best light, but to aid you in mentally visualizing a scene before capturing the decisive moment. Our aim is to raise your awareness and spark your creativity so that you not only go home with images to be proud of, but use your new found skills to improve and expand your photographic technique in general. Apart from the technical aspect of learning your camera settings and capabilities, you will learn how to turn an ordinary image into an extraordinary image by using your own creativity. 

In addition, you will become knowledgeable on how to survey the landscape, utilize and approach your environment, photograph people indigenous to the region and the cultural considerations and challenges of photographing in a foreign country. Our time together will include individual and group discussions, inspiring ideas and great fun. Join us in Japan for the adventure of a lifetime.

Group Size

4 – 8 Guests

Experience | Difficulty

  • Beginner, amateur, enthusiast and semi-pro photographers
  • DSLR, mirrorless, compact or iPhone cameras
  • Moderate schedule
  • Travel by train, local transportation
  • Moderate elevation changes and lots of walking
  • (non-photographers also welcome)

Weather | Sun

May/June – Temps 76/66 F  24/18 C  Sunrise 4:25 | Sunset 6:54 (18:54)

Includes

  • Travel, landscape, seascape, architecture, and people photography
  • Professional photographer | guide
  • Photo walks & discussions
  • Small group size (4 – 8 guests)
  • 4 or 5-star hotels
  • Breakfasts
  • 2 Dinners
  • Geisha photo session
  • Local transportation (including 3 trains)

Travel Information

Arrival Airport: Kansai Airport (KIX) or Osaka International Airport (ITM) – Transfer time to hotel 45min
Departure Airport: Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT)
If you are flying in to Tokyo, you can either connect to Osaka or take the bullet train (3:50 ride)
Our adventure begins at 11 AM on the first day and ends at noon on the last day.
Travel Visa: A visa may be required depending on your nationality. Go to Visa Map to find out.

Accommodations

Osaka – Namba Oriental, Hotel Hankyu International, Imperial Hotel or similar
Kyoto – Century Hotel, Hotel Okura, Villa Aneyakoji or similar
Himeji – Dormy Inn, Hotel Wing International or similar
Toyko – InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Hotel Okura Tokyo or similar

Helpful Links

> 6 Reasons to Visit Japan – by Ian Robert Knight
> UNESCO Sites in Asia – by Ian Robert Knight
> Gear Review: Ili Translator – by Ian Robert Knight



Photo AdventurePriceRegister
JAPAN | SEPTEMBER 20-29, 2019 From: $7,995 Register
JAPAN | MAY 29 – June 7, 2020 From: $8,395 Register
JAPAN | MAY 28- JUNE 6, 2021 From: $8,695 Register
Photographer Leader

Photographer Leader

Ian Robert Knight

September 20 – 29, 2019
May 29 – June 7, 2020
May 28 – June 6 2021

*All prices are per person and based on double occupancy. Please select single occupancy for a private room. For your convenience, we offer optional early arrival and late departure accommodations so you can extend your stay before or after the trip. We typically stay in boutique hotels in the 4-star category. Not all destinations offer these types of properties. We look for unique hotels which offer cultural, historic and/or authentic features. Depending on the size of the group, smaller boutique hotels may have limited room inventory. In some countries or in remote locations, we may be limited to lodges or branded chain hotels. Breakfast is included only if included in our room rates.

ITINERARY

JAPAN 10 DAYS

Day 1 | Osaka - Dōtonbori - Shinsekai

We begin our adventure in Osaka, Japan’s third largest city. Osaka is situated in the lower third of the country, and close to many of the most impressive sites in all of Japan. Nearby cities include Kobe and Kyoto. After we are settled into our classic hotel in the city center, we will discuss PWA’s “10 Guiding Principles to Great Photography” as well as our “The Art of Seeing” photographic technique. 

We’ll get our first taste of Osaka culture by visiting the Kuromon Ichiba Market, not far from our hotel. This will whet our appetites for our upcoming “Welcome Dinner” in one of Osaka’s best restaurants. Over dinner we will have informal discussions about what our guests are trying to achieve in their photography, subject matters, styles and techniques. Later, we’ll take a walking tour of the Dōtonbori and Shinsekai areas at night that will allow us to shoot the city streets and abundant late day activities. (D)

Day 2 | Osaka - Osaka Castle - Japanese Farm Houses

We have a full day of activities in Osaka. After breakfast we’ll spend the morning exploring many of the very impressive sites showcasing traditional Japanese architecture and style. The impressive Osaka Castle, or “Osaka-jo” in Japanese, is beautiful from any angle and a must-see sight in the city. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Japan, and for good reason. This five-story castle is one of the most visually spectacular creations in the country, with a history that dates back almost 450 years!

We’ll also check out other unique Osaka sites like the Namba Yasaka-jinja shrine, and the Open Air Museum of old Japanese Farm Houses, and other architectural landmarks. Namba Yasaka is famous for its lion-shaped stage, which stands out as a unique piece of architecture, especially compared with the austere temple beside it. It’s not hard to draw a parallel with Osaka’s kaleidoscopic mix of traditional, retro, modern and futuristic, distilled at this secret shrine smack in the center of the city’s bawdiest entertainment district. The Open Air Museum restored 11 typical Japanese farm-houses for display, including a Nambu-Magariya house from Iwate Prefecture, in the north part of Japan, and an Amami-Takakura house from Kagoshima Prefecture, in the south part of the country. Those houses were originally built in the 17th to 19th centuries (the Edo period) and were used as dwellings up until the 1960s. (B)

Day 3 | Kyoto - Fushimi Inari-Taisha

We begin the day with a short train journey to Kyoto by bullet train, and check into our hotel in the middle of the city. Kyoto is certainly one of the best places to spend time as a photographer. With so many sites that are iconic images of Japan, you’ll fall in love with this city quickly.

Our afternoon will take us to one of the most incredible temples in the area, the Fushimi Inari-Taisha, which is a large complex of shrines and gates. A true highlight. With seemingly endless arcades of vermilion torii (shrine gates) spread across a thickly wooded mountain, this vast shrine complex is a world unto its own. It is, quite simply, one of the most impressive and memorable sights in all of Kyoto. The entire complex, consisting of five shrines, sprawls across the wooded slopes of Inari-san. A pathway wanders 4km up the mountain and is lined with dozens of atmospheric sub-shrines.

Fushimi Inari was dedicated to the gods of rice and sake by the Hata family in the 8th century. As the role of agriculture diminished, deities were enrolled to ensure prosperity in business. Nowadays, the shrine is one of Japan’s most popular, and is the head shrine for some 40,000 Inari shrines scattered the length and breadth of the country. In the evening we will focus on twilight and sunset photography. (B)

Day 4 | Kyoto - Arashiyama Bamboo Grove - Kinkaku-ji Temple

We will spend the day visiting more beautiful areas, like the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, and the Kinkaku-ji Temple. These two sites are going to bring you some very memorable images, with their striking colors and forms. They are among the most iconic images people think of, when they think of Japan. 

The thick green bamboo stalks of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove seem to continue endlessly in every direction and there’s a strange quality to the light at this famous bamboo grove. It’s most atmospheric on the approach to Ōkōchi Sansō villa and you’ll be unable to resist trying to take a few photos, but you might be disappointed with the results: photos just can’t capture the magic of the place. The grove runs from outside the north gate of Tenryū-ji to just below Ōkōchi Sansō.

Kinkaku-ji belongs to the Shoku-ji branch of Rinzai Zen and was founded by Muso Soseki (1275-1371) in the Muromachi Period. The temple was originally built in 1397 as a villa for court noble Kintsune Saionji and greatly improved by its second owner, Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who converted it to his retirement home and spent the latter part of his days there, away from the troubles of the state. His son, Yoshimochi, converted the building into a Zen temple, (then called Rokuonji), according to his father’s will. It was destroyed by fire several times during the Ōnin War. The current building only dates to 1955 with a thicker layer of gold leaf added in 1987. The ancient original was burned to the ground in 1950 by a disgruntled priest. The incident was immortalized in the Yukio Mishima novel – The Temple of the Golden Pavilion. The wooded grounds are extensive and lovely to walk.

At night, we will have a chance to review and discuss the photographs we’ve taken over the past few days. (B)

Day 5 | Kyoto - Gion District - Geishas

On our last full day in Kyoto, we’ll have time to explore some of the urban areas that make Japan’s seventh largest city so interesting. The Higashiyama District and the Gion District have enough to occupy us for most of the day. Higashiyama is one of Kyoto’s best preserved historic districts, with traditional wooden housing, narrow streets, and shops that have been tended for centuries. With several temples and shrines open to the public, this is a popular place to visit. The Yasaka Shrine is especially beautiful at night when the lanterns are lit up. We’ll aim to return to this area as the light fades away.

The Gion district is Kyoto’s entertainment district, and is also the traditional living and working area for Geishas. In the Kyoto dialect, the word for this type of worker is called Geiko or if it’s an apprentice, then Maiko. Traditionally, Geikos are expert hostesses, trained to serve drinks, perform traditional music, dance, engage in light conversation, and lead in games. Depending on availability, we will have a chance to engage with a Geiko or Maiko, or see them perform their traditional arts in a ceremony.  (B)

Day 6 | Himeji - Himeji Castle

After checkout in the morning, we will take a 45 – 60 minute journey by shinkansen bullet train from Kyoto to Himeji, and check into our hotel. Himeji is a small city, and best known for the imposing Himeji-jo Castle, the most impressive in all of Japan. Himeji-jo castle, also known as the White Heron Castle, was built in the 1300’s and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a stunning sight to see and photograph. This fortress has been fortified many times over the centuries, and was recently renovated for five years before reopening in 2014. It’s withstood earthquakes, countless typhoons, and WWII bombings. We’ll place ourselves around the castle in the best light of the day, depending on the weather. 

In addition to the castle, Himeji is considered the birthplace of sake, and we’ll visit one of the oldest breweries in the city, Nadagiku Sake Brewery, to see how the product is made. Meeting the brewmaster and sampling the many types of sake is a great way to get to know this traditional beverage in Japan. We’ll also spend some time in the Koko-en Garden, not far from the castle to view some amazing gardens that only Japanese can create. (B)

Day 7 | Tokyo - Shibuya

In the late morning, we will take a shinkansen bullet train north from Himeji to Tokyo.This will take about 3.5 hours, placing us in Tokyo in the early afternoon. There is a lot to see in this massive, sprawling city, and we will get to as much as we can. We’ll check into one of the finest hotels on Tokyo Bay, with spectacular views of the harbor.

Today we will visit the Shibuya district for a blue-hour shoot of what’s claimed to be the busiest intersection in the world, and one of the coolest places to shoot in the city. When you see this place, it will be easy to understand how it got that description. Prior to this blue-hour shoot, we’ll spend some time exploring the district and getting a sense of how frenetic this city can get. Shibuya is one of 23 different wards in Tokyo, and one of the centers for youth culture and fashion. The district is packed with shopping, entertainment, restaurants and nightclubs that serve the masses of people that visit the area every day. (B)

Day 8 | Tokyo - Tsukiji Fish Market - Shinjuku - Roppongi

Tokyo is home to one of the largest fish markets in the world – the Tsukiji Fish Market. The Tsukiji Fish Market is world famous for its tuna auctions, where a fish can sell anywhere from $100,000 to over $1,000,000. In a world where everything claims to be the best or biggest, this market truly is the largest you’ll ever encounter. The market limits how many tourists can enter each day, so we’ll get an early morning start at around 5 AM for the visit, and follow up with extremely fresh sushi for breakfast.

The rest of the day will take us around the city stopping in districts like Roppongi, Akihabara, and Shinjuku. Each of these districts have their own unique characteristics that make them stand out from each other. Roppongi is the more cultural part of the city, partly because of the many museums and the foreigner-friendly atmosphere among the restaurants and bars in the area. The tallest buildings in Tokyo are present in this area, as is most of its money.

Akihabara, commonly referred to as Akiba, is famous for its many electronics stores, as well as the centre for anime and manga culture. It’s an odd mixture, and one that’s certain to entertain. As photographers, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the magnetic draw into the many camera stores. And at the same time, the scene on the streets with so many people dressed in anime costumes, we’re torn where to place our attention.

Shinjuku is home to the world’s largest train station, hosting more than 2 million visitors per day. It’s also the location of the city’s biggest and wildest red light district. With hundreds of small bars around, some that only seat a half dozen regulars, as well as gambling and love hotels, you can imagine how popular the place is at night. (B)

Day 9 | Tokyo - Shimokita - Harajuku

Our last full day in Tokyo will include some education about Sumo wrestling, with a visit to a nearby Sumo stable. Sumo has been part of the culture of Japan for centuries. There are many tournaments that take place throughout the year that draw in crowds of millions of fans. Although there are no major bouts taking place in June, we’ll still have the chance to witness the athletes practice ‘off-season’ in their training stables in the Ryogoku district. Watching these massive men practice will give a new appreciation for the traditions and power of the sport.

In the afternoon, we’ll visit some more quirky districts like Shimokita and Harajuku. These districts are often overflowing with younger Japanese who express themselves with colourful costumes and unique clothing. Shimokitazawa, commonly shortened to Shimokita, is popular with younger Tokyo residents. There is a strong theatre culture here, as well as many live music venues and vintage clothing stores, and it attracts a specific crowd. Harajuku, on the other hand, is much more bold. It’s the centre of Japan’s extreme fashion styles and teenage culture. The countless fashion boutiques lining Takeshita street are filled with young Japanese looking for ways to express themselves that has not been seen before. Truly an eye-opener to the uninitiated. 

We’ll have our “Farewell Dinner” in one of Tokyo’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Tokyo boasts more Michelin starred restaurants than any other city in the world – over 500! Here we will discuss the events of the trip, share our favorite photos and enjoy the fun and laughter.  (B) (D)

Day 10 | Tokyo

Our journey comes to an end today, but only after we have one last chance to observe the size of this massive city. We will venture up to the observation deck of the world’s tallest tower, the Tokyo Skytree. After this was completed in 2012, it was the second tallest building in the world, and the tallest tower in the world, at 2080 feet (buildings are inhabited, towers are not). On a clear day, we’ll be able to see most of Tokyo. We’ll say a farewell to our guests over brunch and a chance to exchange contact information and share some of the photographs we’ve experienced over the past 10 days. (B)

(B) Breakfast, (L) Lunch, (D) Dinner, (E) Excursion

May all who come as guests... leave as friends®

OPTIONS AND BENEFITS

Pricing

 

All prices are per person and based on double occupancy. Please select single occupancy for a private room. For your convenience, we offer optional early arrival and late departure accommodations so you can extend your stay before or after the trip. We typically stay in boutique hotels in the 4-star category. Not all destinations offer these types of properties. We look for unique hotels which offer cultural, historic and/or authentic features. Depending on the size of the group, smaller boutique hotels may have limited room inventory. In some countries or in remote locations, we may be limited to lodges or branded chain hotels. Breakfast is included only if included in our room rates.

Private Guided Adventures

 

We offer amazing private guided photo adventures, cultural tours and vacations for individuals, couples, families and groups. We can customize any of our published adventures, as well as others, to meet your individual needs, schedule, budget and interests. This may include the finest 5-star accommodations, business-class travel, and private guides and fixers who are able to make the impossible possible. If you are not interested in a photo-centric vacation, but you love our approach to private travel, we will be happy to design and deliver an amazing adventure focused on travel, culture and cuisine. Click here to request a quote. Feel free to call us at 1-888-834-0288 or contact us for more information.

 

Travel Insurance

We offer travel insurance through the internationally recognized Travelex Travel Insurance Company, as well as evacuation and medical transportation insurance through MedJet, one of the best in the industry.

The cost for travel insurance can be as low as 4% of the total trip cost, depending upon age and other factors. Knowing you have trip cancellation coverage can make a big difference should you have to cancel for some unforeseen reason. Travelex Insurance Services is a BBB Accredited business with an A+ rating. Click here to learn more about why you should consider travel insurance.

Rewards Program

Start earning points today and SAVE $200 - $900 off future trips!
Simply register for one of our amazing photo adventures and begin earning points today!

How The Program Works
For every adventure reservation you make with Photo Workshop Adventures, you earn valuable points which you can redeem on your next trip. This is a great way to save up to 8% off future trips. Our Rewards Program is designed with three tiers: Orange, Gold and VIP Members. Points may be applied towards balance payments on your next trip, or you may choose to accumulate points for a free trip in the future.

ORANGE REWARDS
All guests begin with our Orange Rewards Program (Level 1), which earns 4 points for every dollar you spend. You begin earning points immediately after your first trip. A $5,900 spend earns 23,600 points with a value of $236 USD.

GOLD REWARDS
With our Gold Rewards Program (Level 2), you earn 6 points for every dollar you spend. Orange Members who reach 120,000 accumulated lifetime* points (approx. 4-6 trips), automatically move up to Gold Rewards. A $5,900 spend earns 35,400 points with a value of $354 USD.

Additional Gold Benefits:

  • Earn up to double points during promotional events
  • Advance notifications for upcoming adventures and special offers

VIP REWARDS
With our VIP Rewards Program (Level 3), you earn 8 points for every dollar you spend. Gold Members who reach 350,000 accumulated lifetime* points (approx. 8-12 trips) move up to VIP Rewards. A $5,900 spend earns 47,200 points with a value of $472 USD, (8+/-% discount).

Additional VIP Benefits:

  • Earn up to double points during promotional events
  • Advance notifications for upcoming adventures and special offers
  • Ability to Gift or Transfer points to others
  • Receive complimentary airport transfers at the destination location*


Redeeming Your Points

Redeeming your points couldn’t be easier. You can always log in to your account to check your points balance. When you are ready to book your next trip, register and pay your deposit. When you go to pay your balance you will be given the option to apply your points and receive a discount.

THINK ORANGE Magazine

Subscribe to our Think Orange Magazine and eNews. THINK ORANGE is a wonderful mix of stories and tips related to travel, photography, adventure, culture, art, technology, cuisine, lifestyle, people and more. Our objective is to immerse you in a world you may only fantasize about. Raise your awareness and inspire your creativity. Perhaps even help make you a better photographer. We deliver similar experiential experiences that our guests enjoy on our photo adventures. Like all of our adventures, our blog is “photo-centric”, while also allowing you to experience all the nuances and cultural aspects of travel and adventure. Welcome to our world. We hope you enjoy. Our eNews is a great way to receive information about upcoming photo adventures, exciting new destinations, photography tips, special offers and more. Subscribe today!

Gift Cards

Give someone you know a Gift Card, good toward any of our Photo  Adventures, Photo Tours, Private Guided Tours, Online Courses, Prints or Merchandize. Our beautifully personalized eGift Cards and Certificates are delivered to you electronically. They are fully transferable and have a 2 year expiration date. They are available in any amount from $100 to $5000. It makes a great gift for anyone who loves photography, travel or adventure. Order now, or email for more information.

Combine-N-Save

You can SAVE up to $1200 by combining two or more back-to-back 6-Day or longer Photo Adventures. Call us at 1-888-834-0288 or contact us for more information.

Private Online Lightroom & Photoshop Tutorials

We offer private online Lightroom and Photoshop photo editing tutorials for individuals who would like to improve their post-processing skills. Each is customized to meet your individual needs, schedule, budget and interests. We provide you with one-on-one discussions using online connectivity. Many of our Photo Adventure guests select our online post-processing as an extension to their trip. Click here for more information.