David Lazar is one of the world’s foremost travel photographers.
— Practical Photography Magazine
Our Japan photo tour winter workshop is the only trip we offer that takes advantage of Winter weather, and because of that, is perhaps our most photographically stunning. We cordially invite you to have a look around and see if joining the fun and superb image making on offer is your cup of hot saké. The photo opportunities range from the frenetic, futuristic streets of Tokyo on one end, to the tranquil snow-scapes and elegant swans of Hokkaido. In between are lovely Geishas expressing life as art, playful Snow Monkeys, deep green bamboo forests, a legendary snowcapped volcano, graceful ancient temples, serene Zen gardens, colorful Torii Gates, and a whole lot more.
To help you get the utmost out of these many and varied photo opportunities, are renowned fine art travel photographer David Lazar, and brilliant landscape snapper Francis Ansing. Francis lives in Japan and is an expert on all things Hokkaido. Both gentlemen are outstanding photo tour leaders who always put YOUR image making above their own. It means a lot that you have entrusted them to guide you on this Luminous Journey, and maximizing your overall experience is their raison d’être. At least for the duration of the trip!
“David was a joy to travel with; often cracking us up along the way and, a fantastic mentor from whom I feel I learned a great deal. I really appreciated how genuine and generous he was sharing his knowledge and creative talent. I think my mom has unofficially adopted him!”— Lee Ann Birkenstock, USA
The culture shock 🙂 kicks off in Tokyo with some fascinating street shoots, including neon night scenes. From Tokyo we take a bullet train to the village/lakes area below Mt. Fuji for two nights, and then spend three in exquisite, imperial Kyoto. The mountain forest village of Shibu Onsen follows, where Snow Monkeys gather in winter to play and luxuriate in the natural hot springs. The scene is surprisingly little visited, and you will be able photograph quite close to them if you wish.
The last four nights will be spent on the north island of Hokkaido, where some of the most surreal, minimalist snow-scapes in the world are to be found. Also to be found are the Japanese Red-Crowned Crane that is so imbedded in Japanese art & culture, and the simply gorgeous Whooper Swan. The winter temperatures on Hokkaido range from Celsius -15 to 0, or a much warmer sounding 14 – 32 degrees Fahrenheit. No worries, we will offer detailed advice on clothing and photo gear for these conditions.
Accommodation on your Japan photo tour workshop will be a mix of clean, comfortable boutique hotels, Japanese Ryokans and traditional onsens, or inns with natural hot springs. High quality meals are all included on this trip, and oft times there will be western options should you tire of Japanese cuisine. It’s so good though… 🙂
Dates – Jan 5 – 16, 2020 (6 spots open)
Lead Photographer – David Lazar
Local Landscape Photographer – Francis Ansing
Tour Price – TBD (approx. $575 USD per day)
Single Supplement – TBD (approx. $100 USD per day)
Minimum Deposit – $1500 USD
Hotels – Japanese style, clean and comfortable, well located
Main Locations – Tokyo, Mt. Fuji lakes & villages, Kyoto & Environs, Shibu Onsen, Jigokudani, Hokkaido – Bird Sanctuaries, Biei, Asahikawa, Toyosaki
Skill Level – Suitable for ALL skill levels, novice to advanced
Tour Type – Small group photo tour workshop, 5 participant minimum, 10 participant maximum
Physical Difficulty – Light to Moderate
Transportation – Internal return flight Tokyo-Hokkaido, bullet trains, late model vans w/ plenty of space
Resplendent Kyoto – Temples, Shrines, Zen Gardens, Monks & Artists
Private Photo Shoots with Geishas & Kimono Clad Models
Magnificent Snow Capped Mt. Fuji Lakes & Villages
The Mystical Bamboo Forests of Kyoto
Red Crowned Crane & Whooper Swan Sanctuaries
The Intriguing Culture of Japan!
Japan Photo Tour Workshop – Winter Spectacular
Meet in Tokyo in the afternoon for a tour overview and briefing. Tokyo street photography in Harajuku in the afternoon. Move to nearby Shibuya to photograph patterns at a major intersection with crowds of people walking through. First ground level and then high angle, playing with slow shutter speeds. We can also try some lit street scenes later on, as no place lights up like Tokyo. Special Welcome Dinner tonight, Japanese style. Naturally.
Morning street shoot in some more intriguing districts of Toyko. Then travel by Shinkansen (bullet train) to Fujikawaguchiko, a small town near Mount Fuji. A great palce for landscape photography using the iconic snow-capped volcano as both subject and backdrop. Lake Kawaguchiko is perfect for reflection shots in the normally crisp clear skies of January. Afternoon and sunset landscape shoots here.
Sunrise and morning landscape shoots of Mount Fuji in a few new locations along the Kawaguchiko lakeside, including a great Torii Gate. Afternoon photography at yet a different location – Yamanakako – where we will seek the resident white swans on Yamanaka Lake (also known as Swan Lake) with Mt. Fuji in the background. Dinner at a favorite local’s restaurant.
Sunrise morning from a higher viewpoint of Mt. Fuji at the classic red Chureito Pagoda to use as foreground. After breakfast it’s back aboard the shinkansen bullet train to Kyoto. Very special afternoon private photo shoot at a Geisha teahouse with local models. If time permits, a sunset temple shoot at one of Kyoto’s most beautiful temples to cap off the shooting day.
Early morning shoot at Fushimi Inari Taisha where the hundreds of orange torii gates lead to a shrine at the base of a mountain. We shoot early here with our kimono clad models to beat the crowds. The shooting day also includes select ancient temples among the more than 1500 in Kyoto, and street scenes with old wooden buildings and traditional architecture.
There are actually two very impressive bamboo forests near Kyoto, and we will likely visit the one less travelled and adorn it with a local model or two. We’ll shoot both natural and with a human element. Among the endless possibilities for the rest of the day are grey robed monks in temple scenes, musicians, calligraphy artists, traditional style painters, and martial artists
Final morning shoot in Kyoto, probably in one of the Geisha districts. Actually the correct word for Geisa in Kyoto, is Geiko. Then we hobo on by shinkansen/bullet train to Shibu Onsen, a small town in the mountains near the Jigokudani forest home of the “snow monkeys”. This small town receives a lot of snow and is very quaint and atmospheric, known for its many onsens, or natural hot spring baths. Japanese beer and icy hot soak, anyone?
Early morning to the Jigokudani monkey forest to photograph the snow monkeys who come to bathe and keep warm in the steamy hot spring. You can photograph quite close to these Japanese Macaques w/o issue, and there won’t be many tourists to avoid. We’ll shoot until our monkey hearts are content, and then head back to Tokyo for the short flight north to the winter wonderland of Hokkaido island. Yeah! First Red-Crowned Crane shoot this afternoon.
Early today we return to another crane location, then move onto a lake area where the Whooper Swans congregate. These iconic white birds are a traditional symbol of good fortune in Japan, and are tall and elegant with black tipped wings and a small red patch on their heads. Photograph the big birds and late morning head for the area of Biei & Asahikawa. Afternoon shoot of snow laden hills, lone trees, and small groves.
On the photography docket for today are more amazing minimalist snow-scapes, icy waterfalls, a frozen blue lagoon, and assorted other scenic snow possibilities. After a long day of fantastic winter photography, there is nothing like returning to the onsen for a hot spring bath and little hot sake, followed by a mouth-watering Hokkaido dinner. Who wants Blowfish? 🙂
Today is more or less dedicated to one, really fantastic shot – a frozen red Torii Gate shrine located on the Sea of Japan north of Sapporo. This is one to enlarge and frame for sure. A sumptuous Farewell Dinner tonight, with cold beer and hot saké included.
Today there is time for optional final image review or further Photoshop / Lightroom tips, before, during or after the return flight to Tokyo this morning. Some of you may wish to spend more time in Tokyo, while others will have booked your flights home for this afternoon or evening. We will let you know what the exact time the flight is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo.
*Please note the above Japan photo tour winter itinerary is only a brief and subject to change. Final pricing will be posted the third week in July. Join the Interest List to be notified of final pricing. Or better yet, sign up to secure your spot. We anticipate the price will not be in excess of $575 USD per day, but if so and you wanted to opt out, you’d receive a 100% refund.
**A 30+ page detailed schedule and information kit concerning traveling for photography in Japan will be sent to all participants approximately 100 days prior to tour start date.
Professional photographer and local guide fees
All accommodation at traditional Ryokans, Onsens or boutique hotels
In-country return flight to Hokkaido, arrival airport transfer & ground transport
All meals from Day 1 dinner through Day 12 breakfast
Plenty of bottled water throughout
All entrance, zone and camera fees
Geisha and other local model fees
Drinks other than tea or water @ lunches & dinners
Any personal purchases
Trip cancellation or medical insurance
Gratuities for hotel porters, local guides & drivers
Japan visa fee
End of trip gratuities for photographer tour leaders