Join Photo Quest Adventures and Adam Jones for an exciting wildlife photography workshop in Japan. You will be able to capture once in a lifetime images of the snow monkeys, bathing in the natural hot springs of Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano and the endangered Japanese red-crowned cranes of Kushiro Shitsugen National Park.
In this fascinating country of mountainous Pacific Ocean Islands, where ancient rituals co-exist alongside ultra modern ways, we will also explore the natural wonders of Mount Fuji and the well-preserved ancient culture of Kyoto.
Fill your frame with Kyoto’s temples, shrines, Zen rock gardens and Geisha in the best-preserved city in Japan and home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites
Capture the contrasts of Tokyo where futuristic fads co-exist with ancient cultural traditions
Stay in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) and sample simple home-cooked fare
Winter is a beautiful time of year to explore Japan. The streets are lit up at night and blanketed in snow, the markets are bustling a piping hot bowl of ramen tastes especially good when it is below zero outside!
Focus your lens for two full days on Japan’s snow monkeys bathing in the geothermal pools that bubble up from the frozen ground, their expressive eyes and
pink faces surrounded by ruffs of shaggy fur at the Jigokudani Monkey Park
Capture rare images of the endangered Japanese red-crowned cranes at the Kushiro Shitsugen National Park- the largest wetland and marsh habitat in the country
Photograph panoramic images of Mount Fuji from the northern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko – the largest of the Fuji Five Lakes
Day 1 – Departure
Depart the USA: overnight flight to Tokyo.
Day 2 – Arrival in Tokyo
On arrival at Narita International Airport, transfer to your hotel by airport limousine bus. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to explore Tokyo.
Overnight at the Metropolitan Hotel.
One of the world’s most cutting edge capitals, Tokyo is a city of contrasts. Famous for its modernity, neon-lit landscape and towering skyscrapers, it is also home to sprawling parkland, peaceful shrines and temples and beautifully tended gardens. Despite its love affair with manga pop culture, fashion, high-tech trends and conspicuous consumption, below the surface is a city that has its roots in an ancient heritage. Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples stand close to skyscrapers as a reminder of a more contemplative time. At the heart of the hyperactive center lies the serene Imperial Palace, the home of the ruling emperor that provides a tangible link to the city’s historical past.
Despite Tokyo’s expensive reputation, behind the shopping, entertainment and commercial emporia can be found quaint wooden houses, private gardens with meticulously clipped bonsai trees and the Zen-like calm of the Hamarikyu Gardens as well as inexpensive izakaya bars and neighborhood cafes that serve delicious noodles and rice dishes.
Day 3 – Tokyo to Yudanaka Onsen & Jigokudani Monkey Park
Your guide will meet you at your hotel this morning for a transfer from Tokyo by private coach to Yudanaka in Nagano (approx. 5 hours north west) for an afternoon shoot at the Jigokudani Monkey Park. Yudanaka Onsen has a long history as a hot spring resort dating back hundreds of years. Although it has seen development in recent years, it still retains its traditional atmosphere. Right inside the station is the Kaede no Yu public bath, allowing visitors to start enjoying the hot spring water immediately upon arrival. There is a free footbath located just outside the station for travelers not quite ready to completely submerge in the water.
Yudanaka is also well known for being the starting point for a visit to the Jigokudani Monkey Park, home to Japan’s famous Snow Monkeys who bathe in the parks natural hot springs. Jigokudani literally means ‘hell’s valley’ due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, and it is in the baths of this boiling water that the resident Japanese Macaques like to soak in on. The monkeys live in large social groups, and are fascinating to watch. Accustomed to humans, they can be observed from very close promising great photo ops.
Overnight at the Yorudu-ya Ryokan Hotel.
Day 4 – Yudanaka Onsen
We will spend the day exploring and photographing at the Jigokudani Monkey Park. During our lunch break, we will stroll through a nearby hot springs village for photos.
Overnight at the Yorudu-ya Ryokan Hotel.
Day 5 – Yudanaka to Lake Kawaguchi-ko & Mt Fuji
Transfer by private coach to Kawaguchiko (approx. 5 hours heading south) just in time for a late afternoon shoot of Mt Fuji at sunset. Overnight at the Tominoko Ryokan Hotel.
The largest of the Fuji Five Lakes, Lake Kawaguchiko is a hot spring resort town with many tourist attractions and amazing views of Mount Fuji. The best views of Mount Fuji can be enjoyed from the lake's northern shores. Among the wide range of other tourist attractions available around Lake Kawaguchiko are hot spring baths, various museums, the Fuji Q amusement park, boat tours and a ropeway leading onto a small mountain next to the lake. Kawaguchiko is also a good base for climbing Mount Fuji, although most people start their ascent from Kawaguchiko 5th Station halfway up the mountain these days.
Note: It is possible that Mt. Fuji may not be visible due to weather conditions.
Day 6 – Kawaguchi-ko & Mt. Fuji
Full day of landscape shooting at Lake Kawaguchi and surrounding viewpoints of Mt.Fuji.
Overnight at the Tominoko Ryokan Hotel.
Day 7 – Transfer from Kawaguchi-ko to Kushiro (East Hokkaido)
Transfer from Hotel to Haneda Airport by charted bus (approx. 1.5hrs) for flight to Kushiro (1.5hrs) and late afternoon sightseeing in the region including Lake Kushiro.
Overnight at the Kawayu Kanko Hotel.
Days 8 & 9 – Kushiro (East Hokkaido)
Two full days of photographing whooper swans and the endangered Japanese red-crowned cranes at Lake Kushiro, Lake Akan and Tsuri Village by chartered bus.
Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk, Hokkaido is the northernmost island in the Japanese archipelago. Kushiro Shitsugen National Park was established in 1987 and is Japan's most recently designated National Park. It was created in order to preserve the country's largest wetland and marsh habitat supporting the only known population of 20 endangered Japanese Cranes in Japan. The park does not receive much snowfall, even in winter, and offers bird watching, nature viewing, and walking trails. Japanese Cranes can be viewed there year round and attract hundreds of photographers.
Overnight at the Kawayu Kanko Hotel.
Day 10 – Kyoto
Transfer by chartered bus to airport for flight to Kyoto via Tokyo just in time for an early evening city shoot by chartered bus. Voted “Best City in Asia” in the Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards 2011, Kyoto is the nation’s former capital and was the residence of the emperor from 794 until 1868. Japan’s seventh largest metropolis with a population of 1.4 million, Kyoto is a city of culture that offers a plethora of temples, shrines and other historical structures. With 2,000 religious buildings, including 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, as well as palaces, gardens and associated architecture, it is one of the best-preserved cities in Japan and has 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Kyoto represent the “Japan of old” and beyond the high rise skyscrapers built as a monument to progress, the real monument to Japan’s historical and cultural past can be found in the city’s narrow alleyways where tea houses thrive and kimono-clad geisha gracefully dash from one function to another. Kyoto will take you go back in time to Japan’s mysterious past where echoes of the court nobility resonate at the Imperial Palace and the search for contemplation can be found in Ryoanji’s Zen rock gardens.
Overnight at the Kyoto Tokyu Hotel.
Day 11 – Kyoto
Morning city shoot in Kyoto of temples and shrines by chartered bus. Private transfer to airport for departing fights.
Itinerary is subject to change.
Adam has been photographing for over 30 years and has worked as a full time nature and travel photographer for the past 19 years. He travels extensively around the world leading his own photography tours and workshops. As a tour leader, he is widely known for his friendly practical nuts and bolts approach to solving problems in the field and sharing his enthusiasm and expertise with others.
Adam's award-winning images are widely published in magazines, posters, calendars, books, and in national advertising campaigns around the world for clients such as Canon, Ford, Eddie Bauer, Miller Beer and Honda.
Adam is recognized world wide as an outstanding stock photographer with his images represented by Getty Images, Corbis, Visuals Unlimited, Photo Researchers, and Danita Delimont Stock Photography. His work sells for editorial and commercial uses in over 50 countries. Adam's images are also featured in seven coffee table books.
Adam teaches photography workshops around the world helping students reach their full potential in the exciting world of digital photography. Considered to be one of the elite photographers in the world, Adam is proud to be sponsored by Canon as an "Explorer of Light." Adam is noted for his enthusiastic down to earth approach and his ability to communicate effectively with all skill levels.
Japan is a diverse country where ancient cultural traditions and ultra modern development coexists among a rugged mountainous island terrain extending along the Pacific coast of Asia. Although the bulk of the population inhabits the four main islands running from north to south (Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu), 3,000 smaller islands are included in this archipelago where temperatures range from subtropical to temperate. With a total land area slightly smaller than California, 73% of the country consists of mountainous chains running through each of the main islands with the highest peak of 12,388 feet belonging to the world-famous Mt. Fuji.
Ethnic groups: Japanese, Korean (0.5%), Chinese (0.4%).
Japan's population, currently just under 127 million, experienced a phenomenal growth rate for much of the 20th century as a result of scientific, industrial, and sociological changes, but birth rates have fallen steadily since the 1970s. In 2005, Japan's population declined for the first time, 2 years earlier than predicted. In 2010, the population growth rate was -1.0%. However, high sanitary and health standards produce a life expectancy exceeding that of the United States.
Shintoism and Buddhism are Japan's two principal religions. Shintoism is founded on myths and legends emanating from the early animistic worship of natural phenomena. Since it was unconcerned with problems of the afterlife which dominate Buddhist thought, and since Buddhism easily accommodated itself to local faiths, the two religions comfortably coexisted, and Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples often became administratively linked. Today many Japanese practice both faiths.
Japan’s climate is complex due to its mountainous and lengthy extension from North to South, but we will have ideal weather visiting in the spring. During this season the temperature will most likely be mild and clear with very little rainfall.
The electrical power throughout Japan is 100 Volt which is different from North America (110V), Central Europe (220V) and most other countries. The current in Eastern Japan (including Tokyo, Yokohama, Tohoku, Hokkaido) is on 50 Hertz and Western Japan (including Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Shikoku, Kyushu) uses 60 Hertz. Japanese electrical plugs are the flat two-pin type, similar to North American outlets.
While sushi is a large part of Japanese heritage and the modern day cuisine, many other daily food staples are enjoyed including: Yuba - thin vegetable protein layers that form when soy milk is boiled to make tofu; Ramen noodles in an enoki mushroom broth; a plate of deeply fried chicken Karaage; a simple bowl of soba noodles with freshly grated wasabi. Although Japanis home to some of the finest restaurants in the world, street food is where you’ll find some of the best and most affordable dishes including: okonomiyaki - a savory pancake made of meat, flour, yam, eggs, vegetables, seafood and sometimes cheese whipped; Takoyaki - octopus fried into a Japanese dumpling; gyoza, Yakitori, and Oden. Aside from delicious varieties of greens teas and organic concoctions made from various edible shrubs, herbs, vegetables, root crops, grains and fruit juices, when it come to libations...sake remains popular. But the current generation is more likely to drink beer or shochu, a strong alcohol (about 25% alcohol) typically made from grain or potatoes.
You must have a valid passport and an onward/return ticket for tourist/business "visa free" stays of up to 90 days. Your passports must be valid for the entire time you are staying in Japan.
The currency in Japan is the yen (¥) and banknotes and coins are easily identifiable. There are ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100 and ¥500 coins; and ¥1000, ¥2000, ¥5000 and ¥10, 000 banknotes. The ¥1 coin is an aluminum lightweight coin, the ¥5 and ¥50 coins have a punched hole in the middle (the former is colored bronze and the latter silver). Note that some vending machines do not accept older ¥500 coins.
Most automated teller machines do not accept foreign-issued cards. Even if they display Visa and MasterCard logos, most accept only Japan-issued versions of these cards. Fortunately, Japanese postal ATMs accept cards that belong to the following international networks: Visa, Plus, MasterCard, Maestro, Cirrus American Express and Diners Club cards. You’ll find postal ATMs in almost all post offices from those in big cities to even the smallest Japanese village. Most postal ATMs are open 9am to 5pm on weekdays, 9am to noon on Saturday, and are closed on Sunday and holidays. Some postal ATMs in very large central post offices are open longer hours.
Tipping in Japan or leaving gratuity is often viewed as being rude. Although you may find someone willing to accept your cash handout, leaving a tip is not a part of Japanese culture and can possibly even be misconstrued as an insult.
If you want to show your gratitude to someone, give them a gift rather than a tip. If you do choose to give someone a cash gift, place the money in a tastefully decorative, sealed envelope. Although tipping is accepted in some five-star, Western hotels, most of the hotel staff that you will encounter is trained to politely refuse tips and tokens of gratuity.
Computer / Digital Accessories
Laptop with charger and Photoshop and Lightroom (not mandatory)
Portable hard drives
All cables for drives, computer, card readers, storage devices, etc.
Power converters/adapters for all international quests
Cover or large zip-lock bag for camera for shooting in the desert
Sturdy tripod (carbon fiber)
Cable release (for night shots)
Small headlamp and flashlight
Your camera’s manual
Camera and extra body
Battery charger & extra batteries
Memory cards (bring plenty!!!)
Sensor cleaning supplies
Flash with plenty of batteries
Wireless transmitter for Flash
24-70mm for portraits or similar
70-200mm lens or similar
For night photography: fast/wide lenses like 14mm 2.8, 20mm 1.8 or 16-35 and 24-70 2.8
Your AF lenses must have a manual focus setting for night photography
Lens hoods for all lenses
Lint-free cloth to clean lenses and blower ball for dust
$____ based on double occupancy. $____ per person for a single room.
Limited to ___ participants.
We highly recommend that you purchase travel insurance.