Day 1 - 5: Arrival and meet Tokyo Haneda Airport, (HND), place to be announced to participants. We will journey as the artisans we are, with camera in hand along the most spectacular autumn-colored pilgrim’s route on our planet. Buddhist monks, samurai, artisans, as well as, The Ainu, The First Nation’s People of Japan, have pilgrimaged the same route for thousands of years. After arrival in Niigata, the adventure begins in Yuzawa. Beautiful highlands and autumn leaves await you. Perfectly composed natural scenery with the still waters framed with scintillating Japanese Maples in red, yellow, and orange await you, and, to further perplex your vision, you will gaze upon the Japanese Purple Maple. The next morning will include a trip to the spectacular rice terraces for a photographic encounter during the blue into the golden hour sunrise. Hoshitouge Tanada is one of the five most beautiful rice terraces in all of Japan. In span of one hour, from blue hour to sunrise, your view of the rice terraces will dramatically change. The sky will slowly brighten from a dark blue to brilliant orange, but the mountains, forests, and the terraces themselves will remain shrouded in fog banks. As the sunlight reaches the valley, the fog slowly dissipates, and the radiance of the sun dispels the magic of the valley of dragons, and the trappings of humanity reappear. The next stop will be Akiyamago. Blocked by the steep Nakatsu River Valley, development has been delayed here making it a secluded region steeped in the traditional, old-fashioned way of life. The natural seclusion provided protection for outcasts who fled from the forces of the shogun, Tokugawa. See the modern day incarnation of this immaculately preserved natural habitat. Your photos will be separated with the higher altitudes yielding snow-capped peaks and the lower portion and foreground of your photos will be graced with autumn leaves.
Day 6 & 7: After our visit to the valley of the dragons, we will take the meandering scenic route to the Myoko Mountain Range where you will have the opportunity to experience the traditional Japanese community lifestyle. We will follow the paths laid out in the oral traditions, rediscovering the myths and legend in the present day. After two days focusing on waterfalls, ponds, and exploring one of the most beautiful forests in all of Japan. Afterwards, you can soak in the milky white hot springs in the evening time to refresh yourself for another day filled with amazing photos.
Day 8 & 9: The Japanese macaque is a terrestrial Old World monkey species that is native to Japan. Jigokudani Yaenkoen was established in 1964 in the highlands forest of the Jigokudani valley in Yamanouchi, and to this day, offers a unique experience to photograph and visit with these wild Japanese macaques. We will enter Snow Monkeys territory in Jigokudani Joshinetsu-Kogen National Park, where you will have up-close and personal encounters with wild Japanese macaques as they relax in the hot springs to offset the cool autumn temperatures, and the time you spend there will be at the peak of mating season. These are not docile primates as you see during the winter due to the cold temperatures. The mating instinct is running high in the snow monkeys, and your workshop instructor Blain will have you prepared for this once in a lifetime encounter.
Day 10 & 11: For centuries artisans have been mesmerized by Mount Fuji and its breathtaking beauty. Autumn is especially mesmerizingly beautiful, with lavish displays of vibrant fall foliage and the legendary Japanese maple tree in red-yellow and orange. By daylight or moonlight, Blain guarantees that Mount Fuji will capture your heart and imagination, that no one picture that you take will express the zen emotion that will overcome you. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, but it will take a thousand pictures to express your one emotion of photographing autumn in Mount Fuji.
Day 12: After breakfast at our lodgings near Mt. Fuji, drop off and departure at Tokyo Haneda International Airport, (HND).