Japan is a wonderfully diverse country; from its beautiful landscapes and striking architecture to its intriguing cultures, this captivating country offers incredible photo opportunities. On this one-off small group photography tour, you’ll learn how to capture the iconic sights of Japan under the guidance and expertise of award-winning travel photographer, Neil Buchan-Grant.

• Tokyo: 3 nights

• Hakone: 1 night

• Takayama: 1 night

• Kanazawa: 1 night

• Hiroshima: 1 night

• Kyoto: 4 nights

12nights Escorted Small Group Tour

Japan is a wonderfully diverse country; from its beautiful landscapes and striking architecture to its intriguing cultures, this captivating country offers incredible photo opportunities. On this one-off small group photography tour, you’ll learn how to capture the iconic sights of Japan under the guidance and expertise of award-winning travel photographer, Neil Buchan-Grant.

• Tokyo: 3 nights

• Takayama: 2 nights

• Kanazawa: 1 night

• Kyoto: 4 nights

11nights Escorted Small Group Tour
 
 
ITINERARY

Day 1: UK to Tokyo Depart from the UK on your overnight flight to Tokyo.

Day 2: Tokyo On arrival you’ll be met and then transferred to your hotel by shared airport shuttle bus. You’ll be given a pre-loaded IC Card (similar to an Oyster card), which enables you to travel locally by bus, rail and subway. You’ll also receive a 14-day Japan Rail Pass which offers the most efficient way of travelling throughout the country. This evening you’re invited to a welcome drinks reception at the hotel, where you’ll have the chance to socialise with the group as well as meet Neil, your tour photographer. Stay: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (or similar).

Day 3: Tokyo Today you’ll spend the morning in a photography workshop with Neil, who will take you through all the basics of travel photography and will answer any questions you may have about the tour. Head outside to the hotel’s Japanese gardens and put your newly learned skills to the test – designed by the late Kusuoka Teiji, who also worked on the new Imperial Palace, the gardens have been beautifully designed with more than 200 cherry trees, a small temple dedicated to Kannon and a Sakurabashi-style bridge across a stream.

This afternoon, begin your exploration of this ultra-modern city with a guided tour that makes good use of Tokyo’s efficient and fast public transport. Head to the historic Asakusa district, where the traditional houses and surrounding streets offer you a glimpse into old Tokyo. Soak up the atmosphere and take some pictures as you wander along Nakamise – which is lined with market stalls, souvenir shops and food stalls – to visit Sensoji, Tokyo’s oldest temple. Continue to the World Trade Centre Building Observatory, where you’ll head to the top floor to see a stunning 360-degree panorama of Tokyo’s iconic skyline. As you take pictures, look out for key landmarks like the Tokyo Tower and the Tokyo Skytree – on a clear day you may even get lucky enough to spot Mount Fuji. Tonight you’ll head to a local restaurant for a welcome dinner. Stay: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 4: Tokyo This morning you’ll visit the Meiji Shrine, which has a serene forested setting by Yoyogi Park, right in the heart of the city. A dream for photographers, follow a pretty tree-lined walkway and pass through the giant torii (a traditional gate) to the shrine which is dedicated to the first emperor of modern Japan. It’s a popular spot for weddings so you may even be able to capture images of a traditional Shinto wedding procession. Leave traditional Japan behind as you head into modern Harajuku; Tokyo’s wonderfully chaotic home to the city’s youth culture. Where countless stores cater to the latest trends, expect to see young men and women dressed to the nines in the wackiest and wildest fashions – this is a great chance for you to photograph another side to Japanese culture. Visit the Imperial Palace and the serene East Gardens, before continuing to the upmarket Ginza shopping district. With the streets here closed to traffic until the evening, this is a great opportunity for you to photograph the iconic buildings and local life with no disruption. This evening it’s time to take in the iconic neon lights of the Shibuya district. Famed for its neon, take advantage of the dark night skies and capture the moment as hundreds of people swarm from all directions on one of the busiest intersections in the world. Stay: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (or similar). B, L.

Day 5: Tokyo to Hakone Today your luggage will be sent ahead to Kanazawa so you’ll need to pack an overnight bag with enough clothes for two days. Board the iconic Shinkansen bullet train from Shinagawa to Odawara, then transfer to the serene town of Hakone, renowned for its onsen, or hot springs, and incredible mountain scenery – on a clear day you can see Mount Fuji! Towering at 12,388 feet, snow-capped Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain and a tribute to its beauty. Ride the scenic Hakone Ropeway – a cable car overlooking Owakudani Valley – before embarking on a cruise on stunning Lake Ashi, which offers views of the iconic red tori of the Hakone Shrine. Transfer to your guesthouse, a traditional Japanese Ryokan, which is located in Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and offers you a taste of authentic Japanese life. There’ll be plenty of photo opportunities in this traditional Japanese-style home, and you’ll also have the chance to make the most of the guesthouse’s onsen. Stay: Hakone PAX Yoshino (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 6: Hakone to Takayama This morning you’ll travel by train – including the bullet train – through the Japanese Alps to the mountain town of Takayama (approx. 5½ hours). When you change trains in Nagoya you’ll have the opportunity to grab a bento box and enjoy lunch like a local on the train. This scenic route is a dream for photographers, taking you on a winding journey through striking gorges and dramatic mountains. On arrival, enjoy a leisurely stroll through this Edo-period merchant town, admiring and capturing images of the beautifully preserved buildings while learning about the Takayama’s history and distinctive culture. Visit a local sake brewery and learn about the traditional methods used to create this iconic drink. This evening you'll dine in a local restaurant where you’ll have the chance to try Hida beef, a coveted Wagyu-style speciality that simply melts-in-the-mouth. Stay: Takayama Ouan. B, D.

Day 7: Takayama to Kanazawa Journey by train to Kanazawa which is known as ‘Little Kyoto’ (approx. 2 hours). Spared from large scale bombing during the Pacific War, the city has retained much of its traditional charm, and is full of many intact and historic districts that make for iconic photo opportunities. Visit beautiful Kenroku-en Garden, a photographer’s landscaped dream. Deemed one of the ‘Three Great Gardens of Japan’, the gardens took nearly two centuries to build and sit in the outer grounds of ancient Kanazawa Castle. This afternoon you’ll pay a visit to the Nagamachi Samurai District, a beautifully preserved area of Kanazawa that’s abundant in historic charm. Once the residential district for the city’s samurai, the wonderfully old houses are a great opportunity for you to practice your architectural photography skills. This evening enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. Stay: Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel (or similar). B, D.

Day 8: Kanazawa to Hiroshima This morning your luggage will be sent ahead to Kyoto so you'll need to pack an overnight bag with enough clothes for an extra day. Travel by train to Kyoto (approx. 2 hours) and connect with the bullet train to Hiroshima (approx. 1½ hours). Take the ferry over to the picturesque island of historic Miyajima, a peaceful retreat with stunning mountain scenery and red shrines. Home to the UNESCO-listed Itsukushima Shrine, its red torii gate appears to float at high tide, and is one of the most photographed sites in Japan. You’ll have the rare opportunity to enjoy a sunset photoshoot of the gate, before returning to your hotel in Hiroshima. Stay: Mitsui Garden Hotel Hiroshima (or similar). B, D.

Day 9: Hiroshima to Kyoto The vibrant ‘City of Water’, Hiroshima is a city with a haunting past. This morning you’ll visit the thought-provoking Peace Memorial Park, a moving dedication to the legacy of being the first city in the world to have suffered a nuclear attack. Follow with a visit to the Peace Memorial Museum, where you can read first-hand accounts of the fateful nuclear attack at the Atomic Bomb Dome, or head to a cooking demonstration at a nearby Okonomiyaki pancake booth. Photograph the chefs at work before having a go at making a pancake yourself. Rejoin the group and ride the bullet train to the imperial city of Kyoto, where on arrival a private coach will transfer you to your hotel. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 10: Kyoto Today make use of your camera with a full day exploration of the city. Start with a visit to the famous bamboo groves of Arashiyama, an atmospheric marvel at the base of the Arashiyama Mountains, west of Kyoto. Visit the beautiful 14th-Century zen garden of Tenryuji-Temple – one of the Five Great Zen Temples of Kyoto, before continuing to the Fushimi Inari Shrine, an iconic site that featured in Memoirs of a Geisha. A complete dream for photographers, ten thousand vermillion tori gates form a path up the mountain and contrast beautifully with the surrounding forest. You’ll also visit Sanjusangendo, which is famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Complementing the old with the new, your tour will finish at Kyoto’s futuristic railway station. Capture the hustle and bustle of Kyoto’s frantic commuters, and admire the modernity of the station, which is located in one of Japan’s largest buildings. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo (or similar). B, L.

Day 11: Kyoto Discover some more of the city’s highlights with a full-day private coach tour. Start with a visit to the 15th-Century Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion), before continuing to the Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), which is coated in gold leaf and lies on the shores of a lake. Following lunch you’ll join a private photo session with a Geisha in a traditional Japanese teahouse. An absolute highlight of the trip, this exclusive opportunity will allow you to photograph the geisha in her natural environment, observing her style, customs and traditions as she hosts you. End your day by experiencing Chado, or Sado, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, before heading to the historic Gion district to watch an authentic Maiko performance. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo (or similar). B, L.

Day 12: Kyoto This morning make your way to Nishiki, a bustling food market and hub of photographic activity known as ‘Kyoto’s kitchen’, which features over a hundred vendors selling local delicacies, from octopus skewers to tofu doughnuts. This afternoon is free for you to spend at leisure. Put the skills that you’ve learnt along the trip to the test and head out on your own for an independent exploration of Kyoto. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo (or similar). B, D.

Day 13: Kyoto to UK Transfer to Osaka airport by shared airport shuttle bus for your return flight to the UK. B.

Day 1: UK to Tokyo Depart from the UK on your overnight flight to Tokyo.

Day 2: Tokyo
On arrival you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel by shared airport shuttle bus. This evening you’re invited to a welcome drinks reception at the hotel, where you’ll have the chance to meet your group and Neil, the tour’s photographer. Stay: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (or similar).

Day 3: Tokyo This morning, join Neil in a photography workshop to learn all the basics of travel photography. Head outside to the hotel’s Japanese gardens and put your newly learned skills to the test – the beautiful gardens are home to more than 200 cherry trees and include a small temple and a Sakurabashi-style bridge across a stream. This afternoon head out for a guided city tour by private coach, starting with a visit to the Meiji Shrine. A dream for photographers, this shrine is dedicated to the first emperor of modern Japan. Next, visit the Imperial Palace where you’ll have the chance to wander around the serene East Gardens before you continue to the historic Asakusa District – a historic neighbourhood which offers a glimpse into old Tokyo. Soak up the atmosphere and take some pictures as you head to Sensoji, one of the oldest temples in the city. Continue to the World Trade Centre Building’s Observatory Deck, where you’ll see a stunning 360-degree view of Tokyo’s iconic skyline. Make sure to look out for key landmarks like the Tokyo Tower and the Tokyo Skytree – and on a clear day you may even get lucky enough to spot Mount Fuji. This evening it’s time to take in the iconic neon lights of the Shibuya District. Home to one of the world’s busiest intersections, attempt to capture the extraordinary moment that hundreds of people swarm from all directions at once. Stay: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 4: Tokyo Depart by coach (8.30am) for the serene mountain town of Hakone, stopping at Mount Fuji’s 5th Station on the way. Continue towards Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park where you’ll ride the scenic Hakone Ropeway to the top of Mount Owakudani. Later, join a ruise across Lake Ashi, which offers views of the iconic red torii of the Hakone Shrine. Head back to the city where the rest of the evening will be at leisure. Stay: Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa (or similar). B, L.

Day 5: Tokyo to Takayama Transfer by coach to Takayama, visiting the beautiful Matsumoto Castle on the way. Arrive into Takayama, a historic Edo-period merchant town. Take a stroll through its narrow streets, admiring and capturing images of the wonderfully old buildings. This evening try Hida beef; a Wagyu-style speciality of the region. Approx. journey time: 5 hours, 190 miles. Stay: Takayama Ouan (or similar). B, D.

Day 6: Takayama This morning capture local life in action as you pay a visit to the Miyagawa Morning Market. Head to Takayama Jinya, a former government headquarters of the Edo period, and visit the Takayama Museum of History and Art to learn more about the history and culture of the town. Stop for a visit at a local sake brewery where you’ll have the chance to treat yourself to a glass (or two). Tomorrow morning, your luggage will be sent ahead to Kyoto so pack an overnight bag with enough clothes for your night in Kanazawa. Stay: Takayama Ouan (or similar). B, L.

Day 7: Takayama to Kanazawa
Depart for Kanazawa, stopping at the World Heritage-listed village of Shirakawa-go on the way. Take some time to snap some images of the famous farmhouses up close before you continue to Kanazawa, a city known as ‘Little Kyoto’. Kanazawa has managed to retain much of its traditional charm and is full of many intact districts that make for iconic photo opportunities. Visit Kenroku-en Garden, deemed one of the ‘Three Great Gardens of Japan’, and head to the Nagamachi Samurai District, once the residential neighbourhood for the city’s samurai. Approx. journey time: 2 hours, 75 miles. Stay: Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel (or similar). B, D.

Day 8: Kanazawa to Kyoto
Travel by train to Kyoto, a city home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites and more than 1600 temples and 400 Shinto shrines. On arrival, head to the Sanjusangendo Temple, famous for its 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. You’ll also visit the Fushimi Inari Shrine – a complete dream for photographers, ten thousand vermilion torii gates form a path up the mountain and contrast beautifully with the surrounding forest. Approx. journey time: 2½ hours, 138 miles. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo (or similar). B, D

Day 9: Kyoto
It’s a full day exploring Kyoto. Visit the Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), which is coated in gold leaf and lies on the shores of a lake, and see the historic Ryoanji Temple – home to Japan’s most famous rock garden. Continue to the tranquil Arashiyama District, stopping at the Okochi-Sanso Villa and visiting the dense forest of Arashiyama’s famous bamboo groves. Take a rickshaw ride alongside the river and visit the 14th-Century zen garden of Tenryu-ji Temple. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo (or similar). B, L, D.

Day 10: Kyoto
Early this morning (8am) transfer by train to Hiroshima. Visit the thought-provoking Peace Memorial Park and Museum, where you can read first-hand accounts of the fateful nuclear attack, and see the famous A-Bomb Dome – also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Later, catch a ferry over to the picturesque island of Miyajima. This sacred national treasure is home to the UNESCO-listed Itsukushima Shrine, one of the most photographed sites in Japan. Travel back by train to Kyoto where you’ll arrive at your hotel later this evening (approx. 10pm). Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo (or similar). B, L.

Day 11: Kyoto
Embark on a full day city tour, starting at the 8th-Century Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Wander down to the historic Higashiyama District before making your way to Nishiki; a bustling food street known as ‘Kyoto’s Kitchen’. After lunch you’ll join a private photo session with a Geisha in a traditional Japanese teahouse. This exceptional tour highlight gives you the exclusive opportunity to observe the Geisha’s style, customs and traditions as she hosts you. Round off the city tour with a visit to Nijo Castle and discover its magnificent audience halls that were built during the Edo Period. Listen out for the squeak of the corridors’ noisy ‘nightingale floors’; so-called for their chirping sound that alerted against potential intruders. End your day in the city’s historic Gion District to watch an authentic Maiko performance. Stay: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo (or similar). B, L, D.

12: Kyoto Transfer to Osaka airport by shared airport shuttle bus for your return flight to the UK. B.

ABOUT THIS TOUR

Is this for you?

Suitable for all levels of abilities, this amazing itinerary is perfect for those with a love for travel and photography.

Good to know

• For guests aged 16 and over (unless travelling on a private journey)

• Average group size of 14 guests

• A maximum of 18 guests

• A good level of fitness is required

• Tipping is not expected in Japan

• Suitable for all levels of abilities, whether you’re a beginner or experienced photographer

• Mount Fuji is often shrouded in cloud and visibility may be limited so views cannot be guaranteed

• The itinerary may be changed depending on traffic, weather and other unforeseen circumstances.

What to expect

• Expert advice and easy going tutorials

• Once booked, Neil will contact you to answer any questions, and offer pre-departure advice

• Various types of transport including coach and train

• This tour is unsuitable for those less mobile

• We recommend packing light as you will be required to carry your own luggage on and off public transport throughout the tour (there are no porters in Japan) and luggage space can be limited

• Meals are traditionally Japanese style and special diets including vegetarian and gluten free are not widely catered for

• On Day 5, your luggage will be sent ahead to Kanazawa so you’ll need to pack a small overnight bag with enough clothes for 2 nights

• On Day 8, your luggage will be sent ahead to Kyoto, so you'll need to pack a small overnight bag with enough clothes for 1 night.

Accommodation on tour

Japan is renowned for its hospitality and throughout your stay you’ll experience consistently high standards and superb service. We have chosen modern westernised hotels in most destinations with the exception of Hakone. Here you can experience a taste of local life with a stay in a Japanese-style hotel with rooftop onsen, or hot springs.

Is this for you?

Suitable for all levels of abilities, this amazing itinerary is perfect for those with a love for travel and photography.

Good to know

• For guests aged 16

• Average group size of 14 guests

• A maximum of 16 guests

• Journey times do not take into account stops or traffic conditions

• We recommend travelling with no more than one suitcase and one day bag

• A good level of fitness is required

• Tipping is not expected in Japan.

What to expect

• Expert advice and easy-going tutorials

• This tour is not suitable for those less mobile – sightseeing mainly takes place on foot and many miles will be covered each day

• The Hakone Ropeway may be closed in bad weather

• You will need to pack an overnight bag for your night in Kanazawa

• Areas of the Kiyomizu-dera Temple are currently undergoing renovations

• Meals are traditionally Japanese style and special diets including vegetarian and gluten free are not widely catered for

• Japanese hotel rooms can be small in comparison to other countries

• Travelling around Japan is unlike travelling in any other destination; you should arrive with an open mind and flexible approach

• Mount Fuji is often shrouded in cloud so visibility may be limited

• The order of the itinerary may change depending on traffic and weather conditions.

Accommodation on tour

Japan is renowned for its hospitality and throughout you’ll experience consistently high standards and superb service. We have chosen modern westernised hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto, which are both centrally located with great facilities. In Takayama, you’ll stay in a Japanese-style hotel which is full of character with comfortable western-style beds and charming local features like the tatami flooring and a rooftop onsen.

Single travellers

Sole-use room from £7382

DATES AND INCLUSIONS

Tour dates

16 May 2019

Included in price

• Quality accommodation

• Insightful local tour leaders

• Hand-picked itineraries

• Flexible arrival times

• Small groups and a relaxed approach

• Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner), or the freedom to explore local restaurants independently

• All specified flights.

Tour dates

19 Apr 2020

Included in price

• Quality accommodation

• Insightful local tour leaders

• Hand-picked itineraries

• Flexible arrival times

• Small groups

• Meals where most convenient (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)

• All specified flights.

Kuoni highlights

Neil Buchan-Grant is an award-winning photographer with over 30 years’ experience of landscape and travel photography. Neil’s experience in travel and street portraiture, easy-going and friendly style of tuition and way of imparting his knowledge will help you make the most of Japan’s spectacular visual possibilities. Whether you’re a beginner or just looking to build on your existing skills, Neil will be available to guide you with advice and offer feedback as you take your own photographs. Through workshops and post-sightseeing review sessions, he’ll tailor his advice and tuition to suit you and help you capture images to the best of your ability.

Kuoni highlights

Neil Buchan-Grant is an award-winning photographer with over 30 years’ experience of landscape and travel photography. Neil’s experience in travel and street portraiture, easy-going and friendly style of tuition and way of imparting his knowledge will help you make the most of Japan’s spectacular visual possibilities. Whether you’re a beginner or just looking to build on your existing skills, Neil will be available to guide you with advice and offer feedback as you take your own photographs. Through workshops and post-sightseeing review sessions, he’ll tailor his advice and tuition to suit you and help you capture images to the best of your ability.