A - Seas - Japan Dreamscapes Photography Tour November 18 - 22
This tour is offered annually in September for 2019, 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 18, 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, premier metal Tsubame-Sanjo craftsmen workshops. Their techniques have been honed and passed down for seven generations and are famous worldwide. Tsubame artisans have been certified as an intangible Japanese cultural artifact. Every need for your garden or kitchen can be crafted 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 saw their value and used 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 is in position, the flock will arrive in groups, the total number will be over 1,000. You can use a 24-105mm lens to capture them directly above. 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 famous for rice wine which is distilled from the most delicious rice in all of Japan, so enjoy a nightcap.
Day 2 - November 19, 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 wake and call out, you will be ready to take photos of them as they begin their day and 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 photography some of the most beautiful autumn leaves in all of Japan. Mt. Yahiko is also known throughout Japan as a power spot, but 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 bearer. Always surrounding you will be maple trees, and you will also notice 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. Spending another night in Iwamuro means another night of basking in the warm, calming waters of the hot springs before you rest for the evening.
Day 3 - November 20, 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. To much surprise there are approximately 160,000 mounds in Japan and 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 shrewd enough to divine its location. Depending on the person and the connection, you may want to spend hours taking in this off the beaten path location. You need not worry about losing your footing. 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 21, 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 its downtown. 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 hewn 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 epicurean delights, Murakami’s famous sea food. You will be torn between beginning to partake of the superbly presented food or obtaining 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 22, 2018, Thursday
Rise, enjoy breakfast and check out. In Murakami, spirits shops and sake wineries open their doors at 9:00 am for customers and to conduct tours. JDS will select a winery so you can view the inner workings of one of Japan's luxury sake producers. You can sip green tea, one of Japan's iconic 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 exclusive restaurants, Suzu 8 Natural Restaurant adjoined to the Katayama Eight Grand Showroom. Among the collected furnishings and works of art, there are more sakes than there are days in the year, so you will find a rice wine that suits you at Suzu 8. If you would prefer to add a rich gouda or piquant cheddar or some other type and crispy baguette or another variety of delicious bread to accompany your sake for your ride home, the clerks at Katayama Eight will help you make pairings you will be happy with. Perhaps red or wine is a better combination for your cheese and bread choices. You are in luck because Katayama Eight carries a wine selection curated by Katayama-san himself. 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
2018 is the 21st year that your workshop photography instructor has lead workshops & tours throughout Japan.
Tour Cost: TBD 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.