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
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.
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.
Sole-use room from £7382
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.
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.