Fushimi-Inari Torii walkway Japan.
JAPAN April 2021
An in-depth adventure through Japan and many of the highlights the country has to offer – all with Mike Gulbraa and his intimate knowledge of the country he has been dealing with for over 35 years.
We’ll enjoy and photograph the highlights of – Tsukiji – the world’s largest fish market in Tokyo, Kyoto and her temples/shrines, Majestic Mt. Fuji and area, Kamakura, Nikko, Tokyo, and Mt. Koya.
About the Tour
Per person double occupancy
International Airfare INCLUDED
Single Supplement Optional
$2,500 USD due at time of booking
Tour Guest Limit
10 Guest Maximum
90 Days before departure
This price is inclusive of Round Trip economy airfare from USA gateway city.
Tour Pricing Info
International RT airfare from USA gateway city
All hotel stays
Meals as mentioned in the program
Land transfer by Japan Rail including Bullet Train
Admission fees to Temples & Shrines
World’s largest fish market
Majestic Mt. Fuji and area
Ancient Kamakura & Nikko
Mike Gulbraa has Intimate knowledge of Japan and the culture - Mike has been traveling to Japan since 1983
Any Passport and Visa arrangements
Early check-in, late check-out surcharge
Additional drinks and other personal expenses (alcoholic drinks, laundry, phone calls etc.)
Any services not specifically mentioned in the tour program
Tips for guides or baggage handlers
We use local boutique hotels and other establishments that give us access to great photos, food, and transport.
More specific information on accommodations will be provided on a closer date to the tour.
Tour Itinerary – subject to change
Day 1 - Depart USA
Day 2 - Arrive in Tokyo Narita International in late afternoon/early evening where we’ll meet guests arriving on other flights and then we’ll take a train into Tokyo (Shinagawa area) then taxi to hotel & check-in. Once we are all settled-in at the hotel head out for dinner and then our first evening/night shoot. We have many options.
Day 3 - Today after breakfast we’ll travel to Kamakura via train (app. 1 hr.) where we’ll explore this former feudal capital of Japan. We plan to visit and photograph the following – Engaku-ji, Tokei-ji, Jochi-ji, Kencho-ji, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, Jufuku-ji, Kotoku-in (Great Buddha), Hase-dera and we’ll wander the two most famous streets in Kamakura – Wakamiya Oji & Komachi Dori. Of course, something will catch your eye as we wander – feel free to shoot all you want. We’ll break for lunch and will also shoot Blue Hour in Kamakura and then have dinner there before heading back into Tokyo for the evening/night shoot where we have our choice of Ginza, Yurakucho, Akihabara, Kabukicho, or even Shibuya.
Day 4 - This morning we will rise VERY early (I suggest 3AM) and head to the world famous Tsukiji fish market to see if we can get lucky enough to be some of the 150 photographers they let in daily to shoot the tuna auction. If not, we improvise and find other things to shoot in this massive wholesale seafood/foods market. Once the market has calmed down we settle in for Sushi for breakfast – yes, sushi/sashimi for breakfast at one of the local shops. Does not get any fresher than this! During the day we’ll head to Meiji Shrine, The Imperial Palace area, Harajuku and in the early evening right before the height of rush hour we’ll hit Shibuya Crossing at Blue Hour and when done there have dinner and then head to the Shinjuku area where we’ll shoot the Golden Gai (AKA Piss Alley) – a spot of many small bars and eating places that are full of colorful people, spots and intimate scenes.
Day 5 - Head to Nikko via train (app. 2hrs.) after an early breakfast. Arrive and check-in at our hotel (right across street from station). Head out to begin the day of shooting – Kanmangafuchi Gorge, Shinkyo Bridge, Toshogu Shrine & Complex, Taiyuibyo, Rinnoji, Futarasan Shrine, and more as time permits. We’ll time our day to be in a good location for Blue Hour.
Day 6 - Spend the morning shooting in and around Nikko. Afterwards leave Nikko for Mt. Fuji area (app. 4-5 hrs. depending on bullet train connections). We’ll experience a Japanese Bento box lunch on the train as well as other typical Japanese travel foods. Check-in to lodging and depending on time prepare for our Blue Hour and evening shoot of Mt. Fuji.
Day 7 - Sunrise of Mt. Fuji and then out to explore the area for more images of Mt. Fuji and surrounding lake(s) and landscapes. Shoot Blue Hour again from a different location.
Day 8 - Leave Mt. Fuji area for Kyoto after our sunrise shoot of Mt. Fuji. We’ll take the bullet train to Kyoto and then take taxis from Kyoto Station to our hotel to check-in. Depending on arrival time we’ll either get our first shots of local temples/shrines OR make our way to the Gion District and/or Ponto Cho for photos of Maiko & Geisha – hopefully, we’ll get a Blue Hour shoot in as well.
Day 9 - Today we have a private bus for 8 hours while we wander the following Temples/Shrines to shoot them and the beautiful (hopefully) Cherry Blossoms. The bus will pick us up at 8AM (we can go out and shoot before this as well as long as we are back in-time to catch the bus). We will visit & shoot the following in order – Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion), Ryoan-ji (the most famous Zen Rock Garden in Japan), Ninna-ji, and then Tenryu-ji. We’ll have 90 minutes at each location. I have personally selected these locations for their beauty, abundance of Cherry Trees and other beautiful landscapes. We’ll also have a Japanese Bento box lunch on the bus while traveling between temples to save time and maximize our time today. After Blue Hour the evening will be spent at the Gion District and/or Ponto Cho again looking for images of Maiko & Geisha and of course, whatever catches your eye – street food-stalls, small eateries/drinking spots, and more.
Day 10 - Today we will wander Kyoto and visit several locations to shoot Temples, Shrines and the fall foliage. The plan is Kiyomizu-dera, Fushimi Inari, Nanzen-ji, Zenrin-ji, Eikando, Ginkaku-ji (The Silver Pavilion), and more if time permits. Good walking shoes are a MUST today. This evening we’ll end with a shoot and dinner at Ponto Cho - a kilometer long, narrow pedestrian street lined with restaurants and bars. It is a former red-light district and has the Old Kyoto feel. It is great for taking photos in the early evening, and we might get a glimpse of Maiko walking past. We’ll select a Blue Hour location – like Ponto Cho and see what develops.
Day 11 - Leave Kyoto via our private bus for Mt. Koya – check-in at Temple and have lunch nearby. After lunch begin our shooting of local temples/shrines – Okunoin, Torodo Hall, Kongobuji, Banryutei Rock Garden, Danjo Garan, Konpondaito Pagoda, and more
Day 12 - Start morning with participation in morning prayers at Temple we stay at. After breakfast we’ll continue our shooting of Mt. Koya in AM & PM of places we don’t hit the day before and we may even shoot Blue Hour in the Okunoin Cemetery or surrounding area.
Day 13 - After breakfast head to Osaka for a free day.
Day 14 - Depart Osaka and take train to Osaka International for flights home.
What To Take (These are only suggestions, they are NOT required!)
Our list of Recommended Gear for your Photo Tour
· 2 camera bodies—the same manufacturer that will fit all your lenses
· Camera battery charger and cords
· CompactFlash/SD Cards (bring as much memory as possible. At least 40 gigs)
· Card Reader for file transfer
· External hard drives for back up (we recommend a minimum of a 500GB drive)
· Black Rapid camera strap
· Extra batteries (lots!)—best packed in checked luggage even when traveling abroad
· Lenses (Depending on the tour) Medium telephoto, Fixed, Wide angle & Macro lens that give you a wide range
of length. 10mm to 500mm if possible
· 1.4x or 2x teleconverter for the telephoto—same brand as lens
· Tripod and head
· Flash—strobe with automatic TTL fill flash capabilities or Reflector
· Photo backpack
· Lens cloth and cleaning fluid
· Blower ball for dust
· Circular polarizing filter
· Grad ND filters
· Rain sleeve for camera and lens
· Cable or electronic shutter release
· Laptop computer (travel size such as a netbook)
· Current version of Photoshop or Lightroom
· International power adapter
· Multiple plug power strip & adaptor to gain electric outlets in your room for simultaneous downloading & recharging
· Sensor cleaning supplies
GUESTS SHOULD PACK LIGHT. YOU MAY BE EXPECTED TO CARRY, ROLL, SCHLEP, AND/OR OTHERWISE TRANSPORT YOUR OWN BAGS AT ALL TIMES AND IN ALL PLACES ON THIS TRIP. LAUNDRY SERVICES ARE ALWAYS AVAILABLE. M&M RULE OF THUMB IS ONE BAG FOR CAMERA GEAR AND ONE 20-22"" ROLLER FOR YOUR CLOTHES AND TOILETRIES. INVEST IN A TRAVEL TRIPOD - BENRO (http://www.benrousa.com/products/travel-angel-ii/) HAS MANY OPTIONS AVAILABLE. MEDICAL DEVICES SUCH AS CPAP MACHINES ARE EXCLUDED FROM THIS RECOMMENDATION. PACKING LIGHT WILL MAKE YOUR TRIP MUCH MORE ENJOYABLE.
Tour Difficulty = Moderate
Easy = less than 2 miles walking/day and little climbing; Moderate = up to 5 miles walking per day with some climbing; Strenuous = more than 5 miles/day of walking and several climbing/hills/rough terrain expected. You should know your health and ability to carry your gear in hot, cold, humid, and dry conditions and be able to walk 5 miles or more per day and make climbs in elevation of up to 1000 feet in gain and be OK climbing many steps or steep terrain.
Pursuant to Clause 2 under Enrollment: If you need to cancel within a stated refund period, M&M Photo Tours, Inc. may allow you to apply all monies paid to a future trip, within 12 months. We must receive written notification (E-mail is accepted) of your cancellation and your desire to apply the funds to a future trip.
We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance as this policy is strongly adhered to. The purchase of travel insurance covering baggage, accident/life and trip cancellation is highly recommended. M&M Photo Tours, Inc. reserves the right to cancel any trip/tour/group due to insufficient registration at any time. In the even of such cancellation, those with reservations shall be notified as soon as possible and a full refund of trip payment will be given. It is agreed by registering for any M&M Photo Tours, Inc. tour that M&M Photo Tours, Inc. assumes no responsibility for refund or additional expenses incurred in preparation for a trip.
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