Classic Japan Cherry Blossom
28 March – 10 April 2020
Explore Japan during the beautiful cherry blossom season
Japan is a fascinating country full of incredible contrasts, and well-known for its beauty during the cherry blossom (sakura) season.
In this 14-day Classic Japan Cherry Blossom Tour you will get to experience the best that this diverse country has to offer at its prettiest time of year. Incredible photographic opportunities await you as we explore a melting pot of traditional culture, futuristic cities, diverse landscapes, and ancient temples among the sakura.
We explore street and night photography in Osaka and Tokyo, and visit famous areas including Dotonbori, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku and Ginza.
View the majestic beauty of Mt Fuji while setting up the perfect landscape shot as the shinkansen (bullet train) whizzes past.
Make a sobering visit to the Hiroshima Peace Park, then visit the stunning floating torii gate at Miyajima. See the unique wooden construction of Kintaikyo Bridge at Iwakuni.
Explore magnificent Kyoto temples and their incredible details, all surrounded by blossoming cherry trees. Visit some of the most incredible gardens in the world at Saihoji and Ritsurin.
See geisha up close and watch the elegance of their traditional art and service.
This is a travel and photography tour unlike any other. If you’ve ever wanted to visit Japan and come away with amazing photos, and better photography skills, and have a great time doing so, this is the tour for you!
Book now and take advantage of our special pricing!
Day 1 – TOKYO | 28 Mar. 2020 (Sat)
Arrive at Narita or Haneda Airport and make your way to our accommodation in central Tokyo. A welcome dinner will be held and we’ll discuss the photography and activities we will undertake in Tokyo over the next few days.
Day 2 – TOKYO | 29 Mar. 2020 (Sun)
An action-packed first day exploring Tokyo, including visits to Harajuku, famous for its crazy fashion and youthful vibe, and the spacious and peaceful grounds of Meiji Shrine.
After lunch, we visit Sensoji Temple, one of Tokyo's most popular temples. We finish off our day at Tokyo Skytree, the second-tallest structure in the world and tallest in Asia at 634m! There are amazing views to be had and fantastic opportunities to capture the Tokyo cityscape literally beneath you as the sun sets and the night lights illuminate the city.
Day 3 – TOKYO | 30 Mar. 2020 (Mon)
We start off our day with a morning visit Toyosu Market, the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. You can choose to have a delicious and amazing fresh sushi lunch after the visit.
After Tsukiji Market, we visit Tokyo Imperial Palace Gardens and Chidorigafuchi moat, one of Tokyo’s most photogenic sakura (cherry blossom) spots.
In the evening we visit Shibuya, home to the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing. We finish off our day with a visit to Ginza, home of the flagship stores of many luxury fashion brands and incredible architecture.
Day 4 – TOKYO | 31 Mar. 2020 (Tue)
Shinkansen day! Often referred to as the bullet train, the shinkansen is Japan’s incredible high speed train and one of the country’s greatest technological achievements. After checkout, we will take a ride on the shinkansen south to Shizuoka prefecture to photograph the shinkansen against the backdrop of Mt Fuji (weather permitting).
We return back to Tokyo in the afternoon so sit back, relax, enjoy a bento lunch and experience a 270km/h train ride. The evening is free time for your to explore Tokyo on your own and get some souvenir shopping done.
Day 5 – HIMEJI | 1 Apr. 2020 (Wed)
Plenty of travel today as we make our way south to Hiroshima on the shinkansen. We stop en route at Himeji to visit Japan's most celebrated castle. Himeji Castle is Japan’s finest surviving example of castle architecture and it looks incredibly picturesque during spring with its many sakura in bloom.
* The Main Building of the Peace Memorial Museum is undergoing renovation work until spring 2018. The East Building still remains open for visiting.
Day 6 – HIROSHIMA, IWAKUNI, MIYAJIMA | 2 Apr. 2020 (Thu)
This morning we visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the location of the Atomic Bomb Dome, Children’s Peace Monument (the “Sadako statue”), the Memorial Cenotaph, and the Peace Memorial Museum*. These monuments make for a moving experience and time for contemplation.
After lunch we make our way to Iwakuni City. Iwakuni is home to Kintai Bridge (Kintaikyo), a multi-arch bridge made entirely of wood and without the use of any nails. Kintaikyo is one of the finest examples of wooden bridge architecture in the world and is considered one of the three most beautiful bridges in Japan.
From late afternoon, we visit Miyajima, home to Itsukushima Shrine and its iconic “floating” torii gate in the water. This sight is ranked as one of Japan’s three best views.
Day 7 – KURASHIKI, TAKAMATSU | 3 Apr. 2020 (Fri)
We visit Kurashiki this morning with its beautiful canal-lined Bikan Historical Quarter, featuring buildings dating back to the Edo period.
In the afternoon, we make our way across to Shikoku island via the Great Seto Bridge (13.1km long!) and to the city of Takamatsu, where we visit Ritsurin Garden. This is one of Japan’s greatest gardens and is often ranked alongside the famous “three most beautiful gardens of Japan” which are Korakuen (in Okayama), Kenrokuen (in Kanazawa), and Kairakuen (in Mito).
We make our way to Osaka in the evening and checkin. The evening is free time to explore on your own, with the neon-lit buildings of the Dotonbori food and shopping district just a short train ride away.
Day 8 – NARA, OSAKA | 4 Apr. 2020 (Sat)
In the morning we head to Nara. Nara was a former capital of Japan and has several significant historical monuments. We will be visiting Todaiji temple, one of the world’s largest wooden buildings, and housing the world’s largest wooden Buddha statue inside. We will also walk around Nara Park, home to hundreds of free-roaming deer!
The afternoon is free time and we will provide some ideas for things to do, or you can simply take the time to sit back and relax.
In the evening, we regroup and visit Dotonbori, Osaka’s famous food and nightlife district. Osaka is home to some of Japan’s famous street food, including okonomiyaki (Japanese-style “pancake”), and takoyaki (octopus-filled batter balls – you just have to try it!).
We will explore Dotonbori and you will get to see and shoot the enormous neon signs surrounding Ebisu Bridge.
Day 9 – KYOTO | 5 Apr. 2020 (Sun)
We make our way to Kyoto early in the morning and two of Kyoto’s most famous temples today, the gold-covered Kinkakuji, and Ryoanji, featuring Japan’s most famous zen rock garden.
We spend the afternoon in Arashiyama and enjoy the atmosphere and street food on offer. In the evening we make our way to downtown Kyoto to visit Nishiki Market, famous for selling many of Kyoto's food specialties.
Day 10 – KYOTO | 6 Apr. 2020 (Mon)
A very early start as we visit Fushimi Inari Shrine for sunrise, with its thousands of torii gates making seemingly endless vermillion tunnel up the mountain side. The gates look amazing as the light changes from twilight to sunrise.
Returning to downtown Kyoto, enjoy some free time until the afternoon to explore Kyoto on your own. Enjoy the fun atmosphere at Maruyama Park, where locals hanami (flower viewing) parties will be celebrated with plenty of drinking involved!
Mid-afternoon, we will visit the geisha district of Gion and view a performance of the Miyako Odori, Kyoto’s famous springdance performance staged by the geisha of Gion Kobu.
Day 11 – YOSHINO | 7 Apr. 2020 (Tue)
Today we head to countryside Nara to visit Mount Yoshino (Yoshinoyama), Japan’s most famous cherry blossom spot. There are thousands of sakura trees planted on Mount Yoshino, creating a beautiful patchwork of pink during sakura season as you look down the mountain.
We visit several temples as we make our way up the mountain and stop at various viewpoints. The hike up is vigorous at times but the reward is a glorious view of the sakura-dotted mountainside.
We return to Kyoto in the evening where you have free time to explore around downtown Kawaramachi.
Day 12 – KYOTO | 8 Apr. 2020 (Wed)
This morning we visit a quirky and very off-the-beaten-track temple in Kyoto, Otagi Nenbutsuji. This temple features hundreds of stone faces, all different and custom-made.
After lunch, we visit the spectacular Saihoji*, also known as Kokedera (“Moss Temple”). This is Japan’s most exclusive temple open for public access and requires advance booking due to a small daily visitor quota. Kokedera’s moss garden is regarded by many as one of the best zen gardens in the world.
After dinner, we visit Nijo Castle and its spectacular night time cherry blossom illumination.
* Saihoji has a visitor quota and places are subject to availability from the temple and are not guaranteed. We will visit an alternative temple if we cannot secure places for all our guests.
Day 13 – KYOTO | 9 Apr. 2020 (Thu)
In the morning, we visit some more of Kyoto’s famous attractions including Nanzenji, the Philosopher’s Path, and Ginkakuji (“Silver Pavilion”).
We meet up in Gion around lunchtime for one of the highlights of our trip – a walking tour of Gion guided by a Kyoto guide, with a special private lunch accompanied by a geiko, there to serve and talk with us! Learn more about the world of geiko while enjoying Kyoto cuisine. This is a truly exclusive lunch, it’s just our group, our interpreter, and the maiko. And yes, you will have the chance to take photos with the maiko!
After our amazing maiko lunch, the afternoon is free for you to explore Kyoto on your own and catch up on shopping.
We return to our hotel in the evening, and celebrate with our final dinner together and share the best images we have taken over the past two weeks!
Meals: B, L, D
Day 14 – KYOTO | 10 Apr. 2020 (Fri)
The end of our tour and after checkout we will assist you with transfers to the airport for your flight home.