Japan in the fall

November 13th to 22nd, 2020

November 13th to 22nd, 2020

Photo tour to Japan in the fall in a small group; limited to 14 people

Thank you so much for your interest in the 2020 Japan in the fall tour.  I am all excited about this trip, because in 2017 I had the opportunity to visit most of the places on an assignment for a travel company in early November – unfortunately too early to see the fall colors.  Doing a lot of research, my trip is timed that we will travel from Hakone to Kyoto at the time of the peak of the fall colors.  On this journey we will have spectacular views of Mt. Fuji (weather depending – it is usually good at this time of the year), landscapes with forests of colorful maple trees, waterfalls, and beautiful temples and architecture.  The images of the fall colors are breathtaking.

On my assignment in 2017 we visited the Senkoji Temple, a Buddhist Zen Temple on top of a hill above the Katsura River in Kyoto.  The monk performed a tea ceremony explaining everything in perfect English.  This temple is very small, but very picturesque.  After my group left, I stayed behind to take more photos.  The monk approached me and told me to come back the middle of November for the colors.  He disappeared and came back with a photo album:  spectacular!

Having traveled to Japan more than a dozen times, I am also looking forward photographing the local people, having great food and exploring some new places I have not visited before.  Anyone with an interest in the arts will be impressed by the artwork we will be seeing.

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2020 Japan in the fall

  • Price: $1,500.00
  • Samples: Single person booking: 1; a couple booking: 2; a group or family of four: 4
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Trip Details

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 1 Nov.13 (Fri) ARRIVAL / NARITA INT’L AIRPORT- TOKYO

Overnight in a hotel in Tokyo – SHIBA PARK HOTEL or similar

Day 2 Nov.14 (Sat) TOKYO – MT.FUJI – HAKONE (B, L, D)

We begin our Japan adventure by heading to majestic Mount Fuji.  Seeking out the most dramatic views, we follow the coast of Lake Kawaguchiko, making stops along the way.  At Kawaguchiko, a museum along the lake’s northern shore, we take advantage of the exceptional panoramic views. This museum, known as one of the best places to photograph Mount Fuji, features the work of artist Kubota Itchiku. Itchiku is known for his artistic kimonos portraying nature, the seasons, and the cosmos.  His impressive and unfinished piece “Symphony of Light” includes 80 kimonos that together represent Mount Fuji.

Kawaguchiko’s museum and garden introduce us to Japan’s artistic appreciation of nature.  The architecture, utilizing Okinawan coral and limestone, along with a timber frame construction, creates the natural stage for Itchiku’s work.  Outside, a waterfall tumbles through gardens designed by Itchiku, and maple forests blanket the hillsides.  Strolling the grounds, we also encounter art work from Asia and Africa.

Check-in at the Hakone Hotel and special Teppanyaki dinner at our hotel.

Accommodation: HAKONE HOTEL or similar for 2 nights – there are hot springs in the hotel

Day 3 Nov.15 (Sun) HAKONE (B, L, D)

Continuing our quest for magnificent views of Mount Fuji, we head to Owakudani.  This volcano has a crater formed from the eruption of Mount Hakone, 3000 years ago. As we walk amidst steamy hot springs, steam vents, and bubbling pools, we have the opportunity to create artistic compositions.  On a clear day, Mount Fuji may create the stunning backdrop.  We pause to taste a local specialty– eggs cooked in the natural hot springs.  With ebony-colored shells, tinted by the sulfur, the eggs are known as a secret to longevity, possibly adding years to our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a catamaran cruise on Lake Ashi, we take advantage of exquisite scenery that includes the lake, a vast caldera, and Hakone Shrine’s Torii Gate.  If weather permits, we photograph Lake Ashi with Mount Fuji in the background. The Hakone Shrine, at the foot of Mount Hakone, creates intriguing images: one immense tori gate emerges from the water, while others frame the main street of Moto-Hakone.  After our cruise, we follow a path through the forest to the picturesque and tranquil shrine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Narukawa Museum’s Panorama Lounge and Cafe, we pause for tea and the grand view—weather permitting– of Lake Ashi, Mount Fuji, and the floating tori gate of Hakone Shrine. Art aficionados may wander among the works of the contemporary art museum, dedicated to a style of painting known as nihonga.  This style, originally characterized by its use of traditional Japanese artistic conventions, techniques, tools and materials, today includes Western techniques.

We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.  In the evening we relax with a soak at the hotel onsen (hot spring), followed by a Western dinner.

Day 4 Nov.16 (Mon) HAKONE – ODAWARA – NAGOYA – TAKAYAMA (B, L, D)

Today we travel by train to Nagoya.  Arriving in the afternoon, we take a walking tour of the picturesque old town of Takayama with our English-speaking guide.  Visiting Takayama Jinya House and strolling Sanmachi Old Street, we witness the history of feudal ages when, controlled by the Shogun, Takayama was known for its timber and carpentry.

In the evening, we check in at our hotel, HOTEL TAKAYAMA OUAN for two nights, and enjoy a Japanese and Western buffet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5 Nov.17 (Tue) TAKAYAMA – HIRAYU – TAKAYAMA (B, L, D)

 Takayama & Hirayu offer us a full day of sightseeing.  By private bus, with our English-speaking guide, we set off for the Morning Farmer’s Market, the Takayama Yatai Kaikan (Festival Hall), and the Kusakabe Folk Craft Museum.  Pausing for lunch at a local restaurant, we continue our drive to Hirayu Falls, the most impressive waterfalls in Hakone. We photograph the two cascades, named Hirayu because they are said to resemble a flying dragon.

Accommodation: HOTEL TAKAYAMA OUAN or similar

Day 6 Nov.18 (Wed) TAKAYAMA – SHIRAKAWAGO – KANAZAWA (B, L, D)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our drive along the Shogwa River brings us to Shirakawa-go and Gokayama regions designated a UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995.  At villages like Ogimachi, the largest and most famous of the area, we explore and photograph traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some more than two centuries old.  The appellation Gassho-zukuri derives from the forms of these buildings, referring to the roofs that resemble praying hands.  These remarkable steep roofs were constructed without nails and able to support heavy snow.  In the attic space, residents often raised silkworms.

Accommodation: HOTEL KANAZAWA or similar for 1 night

Day 7 Nov.19 (Thu) KANAZAWA – KYOTO (B, L)

The beautiful city of Kanazawa offers us a window into the Japanese tea house and geisha culture.  We begin our sightseeing tour by exploring the Omicho Market.  Today at this market, dating to the Edo Period, vendors sell seafood, produce, flowers, and clothing – creating a kaleidoscope of color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the bustle of Omicho market, to the tranquility of the famous Kenrokuen Garden, we experience these important aspects of Japanese life.  At Kenrokuen, we discover one of Japan’s “three most beautiful landscape gardens”.  The famous gardens took the powerful Maeda family almost two centuries to build.  We wander pathways, taking advantage of excellent photographic opportunities of the peaceful ponds, blazing maples, and the famous stone lantern for which the garden is known.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Higashi Chayamachi Street, we visit a chaya, a special restaurant where traditional geisha sing and dance for their guests. Chayas were clustered in special districts on the outskirts of town during the Edo Period.  We visit the Higashi Chaya District and its famous chayas: Shima Teahouse and Kaikaro Teahouse, over 195 years old. In Kaikaro Teahuouse, a red lacquer staircase leads to the Golden Tea Room.  Here tatami mats, made from woven gold, make the chamber glisten.  At small shops, we find Hakuza, finely crafted wooden boxes and items made from gold leaf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We enjoy lunch at a traditional Japanese restaurant in this fascinating and historic district.  After our meal, we leave Kanazawa, boarding an express train for Kyoto. In Kyoto, we settle into the New Miyako Hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 8 & 9 – Kyoto and Nara (B, L – last night farewell dinner included)

Kyoto is a magical place where traditional Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and Japanese gardens create a city of unmatched beauty.  The stunning architecture, dating back many centuries, was all spared destruction during the bombings of World War II.  We spend the next two days intensively photographing the sights of Kyoto’s rich cultural heritage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On our fist evening, we make an optional visit to Kodaiji, built in 1606 in memory of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, famous for his contribution to unifying Japan during the 16th century.  The finely decorated temple interior, Zen gardens, tea houses, and mausoleum, adorned with special laquerwork known as Kodaiji Makie, offer delightful photographic opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highlights of our visit include the Fushimi Taisha Shrine.  This shrine’s series of red tori shrine gates, winding through the forest, has been a favorite subject for photographers and filmmakers.  Here we have the opportunity for many artistic compositions.  A winding path through the woods also brings us to five picturesque shrines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the visit to the Fushimi Shrine, we drive to Nara.  The astounding Todaiji Temple complex in Nara is famous for Daibutsu-den, the world’s tallest wooden building, originally dating to 743 and built in honor of Emporer Shomu.  The temple was rebuilt in 1709.    Inside we photograph the towering 49 foot gilt bronze Daibutsu (Great Buddha). We also visit the Nara Deer Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Kasuga Taisha in Nara and Kasugayama Primeval Forest, we explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Built in the kasuga-zukuri architectural style, Kasuga Taisha offers opportunities to photograph its striking vermillion inner shrines and the countless bronze hanging lanterns that adorn the eaves of the stunning buildingsThousands of stone lanterns, draped in moss, also make wonderful subjects for our artistic photography.  At the end of our day in Nara we return to Kyoto.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyoto’s ‘Golden Pavilion’, Kinkaku-ji, covered in glistening gold leaf and mirrored in a pond, is both a famous sight and an excellent photo opportunity.  Originally a villa built in 1397 for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, Kinkaku-ji later became a temple.  A passionate monk set it aflame in 1950, destroying the original building.  Today the site is graced with a beautifully reconstructed temple that honors the building’s original design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeking out its famous view of Kyoto, we head to Senkoji Temple.   A short hike up the hillside brings us to a breathtaking view of the city and its surrounding nature.  At Senkō-ji Temple, monks perform a tea ceremony for us.  Afterwards we stroll the Togetsukyo Bridge, where we take advantage of the fall foliage–trees shimmering with amber, crimson, and gold.   This area, Arashiyama, known for its beautiful nature, was a popular spot for nobility during the Heian Period (794-1185).  In Arashiyama, we also discover the tranquil bamboo groves and Tenryuji Temple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyoto’s artistic merit also extends to its fine handicrafts such as silk brocades, bronzes, damascene work, porcelain and lacquerware.  We take time to see artisans at work and to do some shopping.

The last evening we enjoy a Japanese Farewell Dinner at the local restaurant.

Accommodation: NEW MIYAKO HOTEL (Premium Floor) or similar.

Day 10 Nov.22 (Sun) KYOTO – KANSAI INT’L AIRPORT / DEPARTURE (B)

Breakfast at the hotel

Check-out the hotel. (Regular Check-out time is 12:00)

Transfer to Kansai Airport by private bus with English Speaking Guide.

This itinerary is subject to change.

I hope you can join me.  In order to book this trip, please click on the BOOK THIS TOUR link on top of the page.  Thank you.