A to Sea - Japan Dreamscapes Photography Tour November 17 - 21
This tour is offered annually in September for 2020 and 2021. Contact JDS to prebook your spot.
• Tsubame Metal Craftsman • Premiere Works of Art & Tools • Whooper Swan Photography • Iwamuro Onsen Experience • Delicious Niigata Saké • Autumn Leaves • Power Point - Yahiko Hot Springs & Shrine • Shibata Samurai Castle • Winter Landscape Photography
Day 1 - November 17, 2018, Sunday
Meet and at Tokyo Station at 9 am (place inside the station to be announced). After meeting, we immediately depart on the shinkansen for Niigata. Our group will depart the station in SUVs with business class seating to our first destination, the premiere metal Tsubame-Sanjo craftsmen workshops. Their techniques have been honed and passed down for seven generations and are famous around the world. Tsubame artisans are so noteworthy, they have been certified as an intangible Japanese cultural artifact. Every possible need for your garden or kitchen can be forged in Tsubame-Sanjo from a variety of metals: copper, stainless steel, iron, or even titanium. Imagine the stories you could tell over your expertly crafted set of luxurious kitchen knives or your perpetually spotless cooking utensils, pots, and pans. Some of the workshops are open for viewing, and you will be able to see the sparks of metal and inspiration fly at the same time. The metal finishes originated in Tsubame Sanjo are so refined, Apple Computers saw their value, and they were inspired to use them in various pieces of their finished electronics line.
Before the golden hour, we will prepare to capture some of Tsubame’s wildlife, Whooper Swans. Once everyone has readied themselves, the flocks will arrive, the total number being over 1,000 individual swans. You can use a 24-105mm lens to capture them in fight directly above you! As night falls, we check into our lodgings at the pastoral Iwamuro Onsen and unwind from your first day of adventure with a relaxing soak in the warm, healing waters. Niigata is renowned for rice wine, which is distilled from the most delicious rice in all of Japan, so why not enjoy a nightcap?
Day 2 - November 18, Monday
Begin your day of adventure before dawn with an early breakfast at our lodgings. Everyone will then get into position while the Whooper Swans roost at a nearby lake. As the swans slowly stir, you will be ready to take photos of them as they take flight. Your JDS Photography Tour Leader will help you to capture the flocks of swans as they depart to forage in the rice patties. Afterwards, sojourn to Yahiko to photograph some of the most spectacular autumn leaves in all of Japan. Mt. Yahiko is also known throughout Japan as a power spot, and a little known source of the healing is also hidden away above the main shrine. Stones taken from this area are said to award healing properties from the deities upon the person who possesses them. Maple trees will always surround you, and you will also become aware of the nearly 500 year old cedar and zelkova trees that surround the temple and mountain. Yahiko Shrine was completed in the 8th century, and the shrine grounds resonate with the history of samurai, Shinto priests, and zen buddhist monks. Quilted in the vastness of the evening sky, the Japanese Maple leaves shimmer with a different color palette, and your JDS Photography Workshop Leader will assist you with your color balance or WB settings, tripod, lenses, and shooting angles. You will be spending another night in Iwamuro, and that means another night of basking in the warm, calming waters of the hot springs before you rest for the evening.
Day 3 - November 19, Tuesday
Check out and depart from Iwamuro lodgings for nearby Kofun Mounds. Most believe that the Kofun Mounds are exclusive to the Osaka and Nara, appearing in a key-shaped form. Surprisingly, there are approximately 160,000 mounds in Japan, and they are different shapes and formations. Exploration of Japanese culture continues with a mysterious zen buddhist shrine tucked away in a cavern. Only local residents know of its whereabouts, but your JDS Photography Workshop Leader, using his years of experience, can grant you access. Approaching the shrine, you will be overcome with a sense of calm and peace. The shrine itself is shrouded in darkness yet inviting to passerby’s perceptive enough to divine its location. The potential connection varies from person to person, and you may want to spend hours taking in this off the beaten path location, but you need not worry about losing your footing because your JDS Photography Workshop Leader will provide illumination and even offer the opportunity to photograph an authentic buddhist candle lighting ceremony. Following your foray into spiritual Japan, you will travel to the Ito Manor Wealthy Farmer’s House Northern Culture Museum. The atmosphere preserves the culture of the Edo Period. The grounds themselves are overflowing with Japanese maples shining with leaves in a variety of colors: red, yellow, purple, black, orange, pink, magenta, blue, and brown. You will begin to lose your sense of time as you return to the what life would have been for a samurai. Before we return to our lodgings in Agano, attached to hot spring, you will enjoy another golden hour photo shoot with your subject the Whooper Swan.
Day 4 - November 20, 2018, Wednesday
Bid farewell to Agano City and drive about an hour Northwest. Shibata Castle, one of Japan's 100 Fine Castles, will suddenly emerge from the city center. During the Sengoku Period, the Taiko, Hidetoshi Toyotomi took the castle in an epic battle. Your JDS Photography Tour Leader loves history and will offer you a rare insight, from its inauguration in the 17th century under the shogun until the Meiji Restoration when Emperor Meiji took control. After your glimpse of Shibata, you will travel further north to Murakami. During autumn, you can photograph the interplay of the autumn trees and their leaves and the crashing waves as they echo through caverns worn into the coastlines, built from thousands of years of tidal erosion. Gazing out past the breaking waves, you will see another mysterious island silhouette, Awashimaura. Once you have feasted with your eyes, it is time for culinary delights, Murakami’s famous seafood. You will be torn between beginning to partake of the superbly presented food or retaining photographic evidence of such rare delicacies. Your lodgings will be one of the finest ryokans or traditional Japanese style inns that make Murakami famous as a location for international and Japanese visitors.
Day 5 - November 21, 2018, Thursday
Rise, enjoy breakfast, and check out. In Murakami, spirits shops and sake wineries open their doors for business at 9:00 am for customers as well as to conduct tours. The JDS photography workshop leader will select a winery so you can view the inner workings of one of Japan's luxury sake producers. You can also sip green tea, one of Japan's infamous flavors while selecting another, more robust Japanese flavor, rice wine. Since 2011, Niigata became the main producer of organic vegetables exported to the entire country, and your lunch will be a tour de force of all that Niigata has to offer at one of Niigata's hidden gems, Pier Bandai. Pier Bandai is home to several different types of cuisines and beverages. If you desire expertly crafted sushi, you may indulge yourself and the Benkei, the nearby sushi bar. Perhaps you'd prefer an Italian Bistro. That is also possible with the Piatto Giorno located in the same complex. With all your photos and omiyage, Japanese Style gifts, to take home, your JDS Photography Leader and team will escort you to your shinkansen, or bullet train, to Tokyo. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you again for your next Japan Dreamscapes Adventure!
Why Choose This Photography Tour/Workshop?
All levels of photographers are welcome.
Any type of camera is welcome: digital, pocket camera, scoping with an iPhone, large format, and others.
Professional Photo Instruction available when requested (included in tour cost).
Opportunity to photograph cultural and architectural masterpieces.
Activity level varying from leisurely to moderate.
Provided transportation: Sports Utility Vehicle with Business Class Seating.
Small group size (minimum two people; maximum eight) means quality, in-depth time with your workshop leader.
All questions are welcome and encouraged throughout your JDS adventure!
During each morning and evening meal, your JDS photo workshop leader will discuss with you and the group the best shooting options with weather conditions in mind so each tour member will be well prepared to take spectacular photos.
No precious moments are wasted in needless seminars
2019 is the 22nd year that your workshop photography instructor has lead workshops & tours throughout Japan.
Tour Cost:$3500 per person (based on double occupancy) in 3 - 5 star accommodations with western style toiletries, and all breakfasts and dinners included. All group ground transportation will be in sports utility vehicles with business class seating. All entrance fees and all donations at temples and shrines are included in tour cost. Also included is professional photography instruction as well as a detailed itinerary with clothing and gear recommendations.