* “hanami” is picnic with bento, lunch box, under the cherry blossoms
* “sakura” means cherry blossom
* “kokeshi” is traditional typical wooden doll of Tohoku
The meeting point of this organized tour to the northern part of Japan will be Ueno station in Tokyo. We will take a bullet train there to Yamagata station. Once we are there, a private bus that will carry us for the next 9 days in this tour will pick us up. From Yamagata station, we will head to a hot springs village, Zao. We will go up a mountain (1.736m) by a cable car to enjoy the impressive and photogenic views. If the weather permits, and if the road is open, we will approach to the crater of a volcano, Okama. If not, we will bathe in an outdoor hot spring bath, rotenburo, in the middle of nature to enjoy the thermal water. Dinner
From Zao, we will head to Yamadera Temple located in a steep mountain. The place offers impressive views over the valley and a walking course with many wooden temples with more than 1.000 years old. There will be countless opportunities to take curious photos there. In the afternoon, we will visit Naruko, a village famous for handcrafted wooden doll called kokeshi. We will visit a workshop of kokeshi to see how a kokeshi is made in front of our own eyes. In the evening we will arrive at a retro romantic hot spring village, Ginzan Onsen, to photograph the village and stay over night there. Breakfst-Lunch-Dinner
From Naruko we will keep going up to north until we reach to a lovely samurai village, Kakunodate. Here is the first place where we can really enjoy breathtaking spectacular landscapes of cherry blossoms. For people who love nature, this should be one of the best occasions to capture the images of cherry blossoms with traditional Japanese houses. We will also experience “hanami” as if we were authentic Japanese locals under the cherry blossom trees beside the river. And later we will visit samurai houses in the old part of Kakunodate. In the evening, we will head to a ryokan, Japanese style inn, lost in the middle of nature, with authentic interior and amazing outdoor wooden hot springs baths of more than 300-year-old history. It is a magical place where splendor multiplies at night. For a dinner, we will have a traditional local cuisine. Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner
We will start the day, being surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the Lake Tazawa with snow capped spring mountains. We will photograph the famous red entrance gate of a shinto shrine on the shore of the lake. At lunch time, we will arrive at the city of Morioka, center of the production of handmade iron kettles. We will visit a workshop of the handicrafts. In the evening, we will arrive at the city of Hirosaki where the festival of cherry blossom is being held. We will visit the huge park of the Hirosaki Castle at night where cherry blossoms are illuminated and reflected on the inner moat of the castle. There will be an old style makeshift amusement park and very photogenic food stands. Breakfst-Lunch
In the morning, we will go back to the castle’s park. We will visit the small and lovely castle, and take pictures of the wide varieties of cherry blossoms in various tones under the daylight. In the afternoon, we will visit Mount Iwaki surrounded by the rice fields filled with water to plant rice. It is the absolute beauty of rural Japan. We will visit the Iwakiyama Shrine at the foot of the Mount Iwaki, and in the evening we will return to Hirosaki. This night, we will have a dinner in a restaurant where we can enjoy dinner with live music of shamisen, a three-stringed Japanese traditional music instrument that is very popular in this region of Tohoku. Breakfast-Dinner
From Hirosaki, we will head to Mount Hakkoda (1.585m) where we will go up by a cable car to enjoy the impressive views of the landscape whose trees are still covered with snow and where skiers are enjoying the last ski season. From there, we will approach to Sukayu hot springs, one of the most oldest hot springs in Tohoku with more than 300-year-old history. In the afternoon, we will arrive at the city of Towada to visit the famous contemporary art museum, Towada Art Center, where big format art works by Japanese and international artists are featured inside and outside of the museum with cherry blossom. Breakfast
In the morning, we will go to the Oirase river whose nature is just breathtaking. If you were a nature photographer, this is a perfect place for you. We will stroll along the river to enjoy the smell and sounds of the nature. At lunch time, we will head to Lake Towada where we will eat local food and get on a cruising boat. We will be amazed by the beautiful landscapes of the lake, visiting two peninsulas of the lake that were only accessible by boat. In the evening, we will arrive at a very special ryokan, in a magical place hidden in the narrow valley where a stream crosses. We will find ourselves in a fairy tale. This place is lit up only by oil lanterns at night. No electricity is available at room. Forget everything and make your mind totally blank and relax in hot springs baths. It is absolutely unique experience. Breakfast-Dinner
We will leave the valley with full of nature to the city of Aomori. There, we will visit a culture center where the traditional floats of Nebuta festival, famous summer festival in Aomori, are displayed. After seeing the huge floats made of Japanese paper, we will head to north, to Shimokita Peninsula where we will find Mount Osore (Osorezan), a mysterious place that folklore describes as the border of this world and the other world. Mount Osore is considered as one of the three most sacred mountains in japan together with Mount Koya (Koyasan). The rocky landscape almost like a moon, blue caldera lake, sulfur vapor coming out of the ground, and hundreds statues of jizo (protector of children and travellers) create surreal environment and convert this remote place to a paradise for photographers. This night we will sleep in a temple. We will eat Japanese vegetarian dishes, the same food the monks of temple eat. At night we can relax at a hot spring. Breakfast-Dinner
The last day of this tour will start at 6.30am to chant Buddhist sutra with monks. After vegetarian breakfast, we will head to the Cape Shiriyazaki, easternmost part of Shimokita Peninsula before we catch a bullet train at Aomori to Tokyo. On the cape, we will see beautiful wild Japanese horses from this area. On our way to Aomori, we will have a lunch, and we will leave our private bus at Aomori Station where we will take a bullet train to Tokyo. Breakfast
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 leadres 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. (In that case, we will return propotional part of single supplement fees.)
Restaurants are carefully selected to enjoy the varieties of Japanese food from sophisticated kaisei to homemade local food. Not to be forced to eat the same things together, some of the meals are not included. If breakfast or lunch is not included, since we normally go to a restaurant together for breakfast or lunch, you just choose what you would like to eat and you pay for it. If dinner is not included, each person can choose a restaurant to dine. If you don’t want to look for a restaurant, you can also go to a restaurant where the tour leaders go, and you just pay for what you eat.
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.
For the trip to be carried out, there must be at least 5 participants (maximum of 10 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, repartriation 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 & conditiones.
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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