*Route Ohenro is a route made up of 88 temples for Japanese Buddhist pilgrims. Many Japanese people wish to visit these 88 temples before they die.
*Torii is a red gate to Shinto shrine.
*Ryokan is a Japanese style inn, where usually you sleep on futon in tatami room
We will all meet at a hotel in Kyoto in the evening to make sure that everyone has arrived and is ready for our adventure that starts next day.
We will start our tour with the most famous Zen garden in Kyoto. After being amaized and puzzled with this zen garden whose author or aim is yet to be known, we will move to Golden Temple, Kinkakuji, built in 1937 by a Shogun, military ruler of Japan. After this world heritage site, we will proceed to another world heritage site, Ginkakuji, Silver Temple, built in 1490 by another Shogun. After photographing this poetic buddhist temple and garden, we will stroll down the Philosopher’s path with cherry blossoms. We will enjoy to photograh this 2km-long charming cherry blossoms path along a stream. At evening, we will visit Ponto-cho, a vivrant narrow street filled with hundreds of restaurants and have a dinner there.
Today we will wake up early to photograph the famous thousands of Torii, red gates of Shinto shrine, in Fushimi Inari Shrine. Once we are happy with the photos of the Shinto shrine and overwhelmed by the crowds of tourists, we will move to our favorite quiet Zen temple with beautiful Zen garden. There we will find less tourists and enjoy peaceful moments. After lunch, we will head to Kiyomizu temple, wooden buddhist temple built in 778. From Kiyomizu temple, we will walk down a stone paved path along until a park where local Japanese people enjoy picnic under the cherry blossoms. In the evening, we will visit Gion area where we might find and be able to photograph geisha or maiko. We will have a dinner at our hotel.
We will wake up early agian to photograph the popular bamboo forest before the place is filled with tourists. After bamboo forest, we will explore Arashiyama area with cherry blossoms and a famous wooden bridge, and visit a world heritage buddhist temple with impressive garden. After lunch, we will pick up our suitcases at our hotel and catch a bullet train to head to the city of Takamatsu located in Setouchi region, in Shikoku, one of the four main islands of Japan.
From Takamatsu, we will visit Naoshima Island, headquarter of Setouchi Art Festival. Naoshima Island has a few important museums designed by famous Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, and also famous huge pumpkin artwork by Yayoi Kusama. Contemporary art, nature, architecture, landscape and slow life melt together beautifully in this island. We will spend the whole day, wondering around the island and capturing the essence of the life in the island. At night we will return to Takamatsu.
Today we will take our private van to move around. In the mornig, we will visit one of our favorite Buddhist temples of Route Ohenro, Japanese Buddhist pilgrimage rout with 88 temples. After we discover what Ohenro is all about, and photograph Japanese pilgrims, we will go to a Japanese traditional puppet theatre, Joruri or Bunraku. After enjoying and photographing the Japanese tradition, we will move to a small town with a picturesque street with historic Japanese merchant houses of Edo Period (1603-1868) and Meiji Period (1868-1912). In the evening we will retrun to Takamatsu, where we will visit a park where Japanese locals are enjoying night picnic under the illuminated cherry blossoms.
In the mornign, we will visit a gorgeous Japanese garden with cherry blossoms. The garden is so enormous that we spend a couple hours to enjoy the beauty. Afterward, we will head to the most popular Shinto shrine in Shikoku. But unlike in Kyoto, we will find very less foreign tourists and we will be able to mingle into local Japanese people. The shrine is located on the top of a hill, so visitors have to go up about 800 steps of stone stairs although we will start climbing from a point where only less than 300 steps are left. In the evening, we will retreat to a Ryokan, Japanese style inn, near the shrine and enjoy authentic Kaiseki dishes, artistic traditional Japanese cuisine, and hot springs bath to relax our bodies and mind.
In the morning, we will visit a beautiful mountain with cherry blossoms with a great view of Setouchi and small islands. From there we will head to Matsuyama to visit the Matsuyama Castle. If weather permits, in the evening we will photograph a great view of sunset in Setouchi.
Today, we will cross Setouchi over a long bridge that connects small Setouchi islands. In the morning, we will photograph astonishing cherry blossom mountain in a small island. Then, later, we will photograph another small island with 500 stone sculptures of disciples of Buddha standing on the top of the hill from where we can see the spectacular view of Setouchi. Then, finally we will reach to city of Onomichi, located in the Setouchi region of Honshu, main island of Japan.
We will visit a Buddhist temple with cherry blossoms on a hill where we go up by a cable car and walk down by photogenic long stairs and slopes. After lunch, we will catch a bullet train to go to Osaka that is our final point of this tour.
During our photo tour to Japan we will combine nights in ryokan with nights in western hotels. Whether they are traditional Japanese inns or western hotels, all of them are mid-high or high class with good reputation or selected by tour leaders from their experiences.
The rooms will be twin room (with two beds), so participants who come alone will share a room with another single participant. If you wish to stay in a single room for the whole trip, you must pay a supplement. But single room might not be available in some of the accommodations, and you have to share a twin room with another participant.
Restaurants are carefully selected to enjoy the varieties of Japanese food from sophisticated kaisei to homemade local food.
If anybody has allergy or food intolerance problems, or is a vegetarian, we will try to make the necessary changes in the menus when it is possible.
*The tour price is fixed in Japanese yen (￥). When you make a payment, depending on the exchange rate with your currency, tour price in your currency will change. The approximate price in Euro and US Dollars above are calculated based on the exchange rate of the publishing day of this tour, June 1, 2019, 1 euro = 120.986 yen, 1 US dollar = 108.27
For the trip to be carried out, there must be at least 4 participants (maximum of 7 participants). For this reason it is recommended to consult the occupancy of the trip before buying the international flight if the flight ticket requires cancellation fees.
It is mandatory to have comprehensive insurance cover for cancellation, medical expenses, personal accident, emergency evacuation, repatriation of remains, dismemberment, and accidental death. You have to give us a copy of travel insurance before the trip.
If the cancellation is made more than 61 days before the start of the tour, deposit will be refunded in full only if the place(s) is/are filled with another/other participant(s). Deposit will not be refunded if the cancellation is made within 60 days before the start of the tour. For more details of cancellation and conditions of refund of the balance due after 60 days, please read our terms & conditions.
The cherry blossom can not be guaranteed in any case. Each year cherry blossoms bloom on different dates and even though we try to catch them at their best time, blossom period varies every year depending on the winter, the temperature, the rain, the wind and the heat of each spring. It is important to keep it in mind that the organizers will not have any responsibility if it is too early or too late to enjoy cherry blossom during the specific dates of the tour. However, if it did happen, organizers will try to chance plans to be able to view cherry blossom tree in different spots.
If you have more doubts about any topic related to the photo tour to Japan, send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Documentary photo project on Japan by Toru Morimoto and Tina Bagué
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