Japan, November 2020
Have you ever wanted to visit and photograph Japan?
Japan can be difficult for a foreigner to visit in a way that makes it possible to get the most artistic and satisfying photographs and not the usual tourist snapshots.
Have you considered going there on a photography trip, but never resolved to, because of cultural and language barriers, difficulty of planning, or because you are scared of being ripped off by tour operators that don't have the best interests of photographers in mind?
If that's the case, you might have just found the solution to your problems.
This is a tour meant to let you discover the intimate and traditional Japan, its onsen (thermal baths), wooden houses, tatami floors, tea ceremonies and smiling geishas. We want to make you experience the real Japan that lies beneath the high-tech gadgets and the glitzy neon lights.
The pace of the tour is optimal for us photographers. It is designed to let us spend as much time as we see fit in each location, without unnecessary pressure to move on to the next one. It We don't like shooting when there are big crowds and we're sure you don't either, so we'll pick times carefully to avoid them.
Ours will be a small group of no more than 10 photographers. We deliberately chose to limit the group size to make the tour more of an intimate experience and to give you our undivided support.
This also means we will be able to select smaller, more traditional hotels and restaurants and avoid those that cater to large groups and events.
November is a magical season in Japan. Weather is typically fair, with balmy days and cool nights. It is not unusual to lie down on the grass in a park in Kyoto with no jacket on, and to wear gloves and a scarf at night in the mountains. In any case, it seldom rains, as the typhoon season ends in October.
The cooler temperatures trigger the onset of foliage, causing the leaves of the Japanese maples and of the gingko trees turn bright red and yellow, respectively. In between, all shades of orange appear. Few places in the world are as dazzling as a Japanese temple's garden in the fall.
This tour has been carefully planned to give you the best chances at capturing the fall colors as they spread from North to South. However, keep in mind that the the exact dates when peak color happens change from year to year and we can't change Nature's course.
Japan is a place of contrasts. On one hand it is a modern, technologically advanced, almost futuristic society. On the other, it carefully preserves its millenary traditions, in the form of arts and crafts, religious ceremonies and architecture.
This tour focuses on these latter aspects, deliberately excluding the glitzy neon lights of the Shinjuku and Akihabara districts of Tokyo in order to let you spend more time in old-fashioned Gion in Kyoto or in tranquil mountain towns like Takayama.
It's hard to visit Japan and not spend some time in its immense capital, so if you've never visited Tokyo or would like to see it again, an optional extension can be added, before the beginning of the tour. Express to me your desire to enjoy Tokyo and we'll discuss the possibilities.
To ensure the maximum level of comfort during the whole trip, we will make ample use of Japan's super-efficient and timely railway network, including the famed Shinkansen bullet trains. These are usually the fastest means of moving from city to city.
Wherever necessary, we will also use private luxury vans with professional drivers.
At a Glance
- The tour will be held in mid-November 2020. Exact dates will be communicated soon.
- Duration is 11 days (10 nights), with the possibility of extensions.
- The price of the tour is €6,500, inclusive of single room accommodation.
- The tour starts in Tokyo and ends in Osaka. We recommend booking your return flight from Osaka, but transfer back to Tokyo via bullet train is also possible.
- Highlights of the tour will include:
- Kyoto, with its temples and parks
- The traditional mountain villages of Shirakawa-go, famed for their farmhouses with dramatically angled thatched roofs.
- Other historical cities and locations, possibly including Nara, Kanazawa, Takayama, Matsumoto, Kamakura, Nikko.
- An optional extension to Tokyo before the beginning of the tour.
- More to be revealed as we proceed with the planning and scouting.
- Very small group size: maximum of 10 students.
- Assistance of a professional photographer.
- The best local guides and drivers.
To travel and work with Ugo is a delight. He is resourceful and knows his destination, so no matter what weather awaits you, Ugo will always suggest a way to make the most of the day. He is energetic, non-stop, productive. A travel/work experience with Ugo motivates you to become a better photographer. Must mention that he is very fun company, and loves good food!
Kyoto (京都, Kyōto) served as Japan's capital and the emperor's residence from 794 until 1868. It is one of the country's ten largest cities with a population of 1.5 million people and a modern face.
Over the centuries, Kyoto was destroyed by many wars and fires, but due to its exceptional historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and escaped destruction during World War II. Countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today.
Takayama (高山) is a city in the mountainous Hida region of Gifu Prefecture.
Takayama retains a traditional touch like few other Japanese cities, especially in its beautifully preserved old town. It now ranks as one of the prime candidates among travelers wishing to add a rural element into their itineraries.
Kanazawa (金沢) boasts many historical attractions such as restored residences and districts, as well as modern museums. But Kanazawa's unchallenged main attraction is Kenrokuen, one of Japan's "three best landscape gardens" and by many considered the most beautiful of them all.
Nikko (日光, Nikkō) is a town at the entrance to Nikko National Park, most famous for Toshogu, Japan's most lavishly decorated shrine and the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate.
Most of Nikko's monuments are nestled among trees that start turning yellow and red and the beginning of November. Nikko is less than 2 hours away from Tokyo by train.
The Shirakawa-go (白川郷, Shirakawagō) and neighboring Gokayama (五箇山) regions line the Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountains that span from Gifu to Toyama Prefectures. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, they are famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old.
Ogimachi (荻町) is the largest village and main attraction of Shirakawa-go.
Nara (奈良) is located less than one hour from Kyoto and Osaka. Due to its past as the first permanent capital, the city remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan's oldest and largest temples.
Lake Kawaguchiko (河口湖) is the most easily accessible of the Fuji Five Lakes with train and direct bus connections to Tokyo. The best views of Mount Fuji can be enjoyed from the lake's northern shores and are particularly breathtaking during the cherry blossom season around mid April and the autumn colors around the first half of November.
What is included
What is included
The price of the workshop includes:
What is NOT included
The price of the workshop does NOT include:
Use the form below to submit your booking request. I will respond within two business days with a confirmation. In order to confirm your booking, a deposit of €1,000 is required.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to provide all the answers you need.
My husband and I were fortunate to travel on Ugo Cei's photography trip to Oman. The country itself is an undiscovered treasure, filled with nature and welcoming people. Traveling with Ugo was a pure pleasure. He offered us a thoroughly researched itinerary and lots of photographic guidance. We shot portraits, landscapes, markets and all manner of subjects and Ugo was always there to offer tips. Do yourself a favor and try out one of his workshops!
I have done 3 photo tours with 3 different guides and locations, this has been the best of the three. Ugo was definitely the best of the three guides. His attention to detail with setting the scene and location with models, suggestions on camera settings were helpful for me, a novice with portrait photography. I would definitely recommend any tour with Ugo, he is an excellent photographer willing to share his knowledge, experience and secrets of special places he knows to make the entire photography experience a lifetime memory.
If you are planning to travel and love photography at any level Ugo can plan a personal tour to fit in with your itinerary! He has a wealth of knowledge to share with you on any subject of photography. Apart from photography (my passion) Ugo provides a total travel experience looking at Italy through the eyes of a local. A life changing trip leaving me totally hooked to book another! Thank you Ugo and yes I will be returning my dilemma is choosing a destination.
Ugo was a wonderful teacher and host in Venice at last years’ Carnival. He takes all the time you need to get your shot and to help with the camera settings when needed! Ugo was very generous and took us out for dinner two times, beginning and end of the workshop. And, he’s fun to be with!!
What an extraordinary experience to participate in a photography tour and workshop with Ugo Cei Photography Tours, in Venice, Italy during the Venice Carnival. His knowledge of Venice along with the right place to be at the right time made this perfect. Add to that his technical and lighting knowledge and then to top it off the perfect local eateries and local interests. It was days full from daylight to evening at a manageable pace with likeminded new international friends. So glad I took the leap and participated.