Off-the-Beaten Track Japan Photography Journey with Harold Davis

What: Step into the fabled Japan of myth and legend. Journey back in time to a Japan that few westerners are familiar with. Join a small group of compatible photographers led by Harold Davis and a professional guide for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Click here for the detailed day-by-day trip itinerary (“Prospectus”) and here for the Reservation Form. Our in-country partner is Oku Japan.

When: Sunday October 15 – Wednesday October 25, 2023.

Where: We meet at our hotel in Tokyo, Japan. After exploring the new and old sides of Tokyo, we’ll travel back in time through the Japanese Alps via the ancient Nakasendo way. We’ll visit well-preserved villages in the Kiso Valley, Matsumoto Castle, the castle town of Takayama, and the World Heritage site of Shirakawa-go. Following a stop in the culturally important city of Kanazawa, we will wrap up the destination photo workshop with a dreamlike visit to the gardens and temples of Kyoto, where the tour will end. For full details, please see the Prospectus.

Group Size: This is an exclusive, small photo workshop (non-photographer significant others are also welcome) with very limited space availability (the minimum group size is six and the maximum is twelve). 

How to Register: Please send us an email expressing interest right away; a completed registration requires a $1000 deposit, the trip Reservation Form, a copy of your Covid vaccination card, and a copy of your currently valid passport page.

Misty Mountains © Harold Davis

Details: Welcome to a photographic journey that not only presents a visual journey of Japan, but also a deep dive into its history – from the pulsing present-day capital of Tokyo, back into rural areas in the central mountains along paths where shoguns and samurai once tread, and then on the to the ancient capital of Kyoto, Japan’s spiritual, political, and cultural center for 1400 years.

After discovering the new and old sides of modern Tokyo, we will jump back 400 years and from Tokyo Bay to the Japanese Alps. In feudal times people travelling from Kyoto to Tokyo would use the Nakasendo way – the road through the central mountains – one of a network of ancient highways. We will visit one of the best-preserved sections in the Kiso Valley, where the lovely villages of Tsumago and Magome have been immaculately restored.

In the Hida region, we will visit the castle town of Takayama, isolated by a barricade of mountains. The superb local crafts and architecture are much in evidence in the old town, with the preserved merchants’ houses, tea houses, local sake, and crafts shops specializing in lacquerware, pottery, and furniture. Further north is Shirakawa-go, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995, where will discover the traditionally thatched gassho-zukkuri houses. These large wooden houses have steep thatched roofs, designed to withstand heavy snow, and the term gassho-zukkuri refers to the shape of praying hands formed by the roofs.

Dawn in the High Fields © Harold Davis

Dawn in the High Fields © Harold Davis

From the mountains, we will move to Kanazawa, a city that retains many traces of its important political past. Here we will discover old geisha teahouse districts, one of Japan’s most famous gardens, a lively market, and a strong cultural heritage.

From Kanazawa, we will travel to Kyoto, Japan’s capital for more than a thousand years. The city is home to more than 1600 Buddhist temples, hundreds of Shinto shrines, imperial palaces and formal gardens. There will be ample time to explore this historical city, and also enjoy some of the wonderful Kyoto cuisine, with its refined preparation and artistic presentation.

Acclaimed photographer and bestselling photography book author Harold Davis will help guide this trip and share his love for photographing Japan throughout the tour. The tour will include guided photography sessions, tips about technique, informal discussions of photography goals and style, optional assignments, and one-on-one availability with Harold.

Tree and Reflection © Harold Davi

Tree and Reflection © Harold Davis

Cost: $8,995 per person (single supplement $1,320 as explained below). $500 early-bird discount for registrations by Nov 30, 2022.

Single supplement: The single supplement covers single rooms in Tokyo, Matsumoto, Kanazawa, and Kyoto. Outside these cities, please understand that single rooms may not be available in ryokans, which are smaller, traditional accommodations. We will be traveling Japanese-style, where group members of the same sex may be paired, particularly in smaller country inns. For more details, see the Accommodation Notes section of the Prospectus.

Inclusions: Accommodation in hotels and Japanese-style inns (ten nights); six dinners and ten breakfasts,  all transportation between tour locations, full-time services of a professional bi-lingual tour leader, entrance to museums, temples, etc. as indicated in the itinerary, luggage transfer services as detailed in the itinerary. See the full Prospectus for details about inclusions. Photographic guidance, discussions, and one-on-one tutorial sessions with master photographer Harold Davis are also included.

Exclusions (not included): Airfare and transportation to Japan, meals except as indicated above and in the Prospectus, drinks (such as wine and beer) with meals, admissions except as indicated, personal and miscellaneous items such as laundry and souvenirs, and gratuities.

Fitness level: Moderate; to fully enjoy Off-the-Beaten Track Japan Photography Journey with Harold Davis, you should be able to comfortably walk a moderate distance (two or three miles) at a leisurely pace while carrying a backpack with a camera and a few items such as a water bottle and a raincoat.

Assisting with air travel arrangements: We’re happy to consult and advise regarding air travel arrangements to Tokyo on request. Directions for transferring from Narita Airport to our meeting-point hotel will be provided.

Travel Insurance: Very highly recommended. Please see Travel Insurance in Terms & Conditions section of the Prospectus.

Terms & Conditions: Please see the important sections on Refunds, Travel Insurance, and Covid policies in the Prospectus.

To Register: Please send us an email expressing interest right away; a completed registration requires a $1000 deposit, the trip Reservation Form, a copy of your Covid vaccination card, and a copy of your currently valid passport page.

Temple Flags © Harold Davis

Temple Flags © Harold Davis