Classic Japan Autumn Tour

13th – 28th November 2017

16 days | TOUR PRICE – AU$8195* pp | SOLD OUT

– Read our 2016 Tour Report | Still want to see Japan’s autumn colours? 

Intro

Experience the vivid autumn colours of Japan!

Autumn/fall is one of the most picturesque times in Japan, when maple leaves transition through majestic colours of the sun. Join us on our incredible 16-day Classic Japan Autumn Tour, where you will experience the best this season has to offer – and how to capture the pictures that will reflect memories for a lifetime.

You name it, Japan has it all – traditional culture proudly practiced in modern day, leading futuristic cities, diverse landscapes showcasing spectacular natural wonders, and ancient temples preserving thousands of years of history.

Led by Julius Pang, a Japan expert and award-winning travel photographer, you’ll learn how to take better travel photos and visit the best spots in Japan to take amazing photos of the autumn colours.

We roam the great cities of Osaka and Tokyo, capturing the buzz of the night and the bustle of the day. Experience the energy and buzz of Dotonbori, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku and Ginza, some of the most famous urban areas in Japan, and perfect for street photography and cityscapes.

We visit the famous onsen (hot spring) area of Hakone where we explore around Lake Ashinoko to spot the picture-perfect postcard shot with Mount Fuji in the background. We also visit Japan’s two finest original castles in Matsumoto Castle and Himeji Castle.

After paying our respects with a sombering visit to Hiroshima Peace Park, we journey to nearby Miyajima island, home to the World Heritage listed Itsukushima Shrine and its stunning ‘floating’ torii gate. We also visit the magnificent gardens of Korakuen (one of Japan’s “Three Great Gardens”) and Ritsurin, both masterpieces of Japanese garden design.

Our trip also includes a visit to Mount Koya, the center of Shingon Buddhism, where we overnight at a temple lodging (shukubo) and get a glimpse at the daily lives of monks.

No trip to Japan is complete without a visit to magnificent Kyoto, mighty in temples, glorious in landscape, and saturated in proud culture. This is the city to witness geisha up close and watch the elegance of their traditional art and service, a peek into their exclusive world. The gardens of Saihoji, Eikando, and Tofukuji are at their best – vivid, rich, and popping with colours red, orange, yellow and green.

This is the tour that shows you the postcard shots, the history, and the secret hot spots of Japan. Book now for our early bird special – all you need is your camera and passport!

Highlights

This tour provides a wealth of incredible photography opportunities and unlike any other during Japan’s autumn season. We visit a selection of incredibly photogenic sights where you’ll learn how to improve your photography and create the images you’ve always wanted to.

Our highlights include:

  • Autumn colours at their peak during the season!
  • Tofukuji Temple – one of Kyoto’s most famous autumn colour spots.
  • Saihoji (the “Moss Temple”) – Kyoto’s most exclusive temple open to the public and a World Heritage landmark.
  • Mount Koya temple stay – Experience an overnight temple stay on Mount Koya, the centre of Shingon Buddhism.
  • Hakone – Famous for its onsen (hot springs), traditional ryokan accommodation, and view of Mt Fuji.
  • Tokyo Skytree – Asia’s tallest building at 634m with spectacular views over Tokyo.
  • Tsukiji Fish Market – famous for its tuna auction and amazing variety of seafood.
  • Korakuen Garden – one of Japan’s “Three Great Gardens”, located in Okayama.
  • Ritsurin Garden – one of the best gardens in Japan, often rated alongside Japan’s “three most beautiful gardens” (I’ve been to all of them and think it’s the best!)
  • Fushimi Inari Shrine – famous for the thousands of red torii gates on the mountainside.
  • Todaiji Temple – besides being one of the world’s largest wooden buildings, Todaiji also houses the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue.
  • Visits to several Kyoto World Heritage sites, including Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion), Ginkakuji, Ryoanji, and Nanzenji.
  • Himeji Castle – after years of renovations, Japan’s best castle is due to reopen end of March 2015!
  • Miyajima – famous for its iconic “floating” torii gate and Itsukushima Shrine.
  • Private geisha lunch and photo session – it’s just our small group with a geisha and interpreter!
  • Photographic training and personalised feedback from Julius Pang, a multi award winning photographer and Japan travel expert.
  • Great food and optional activities!
Inclusions

Japan Classic Autumn Colours Tour includes:

  • 15 nights accommodation (incl. 1 night in ryokan, and 1 night in temple stay)
  • 15 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
  • All local land transport (train, bus, taxi – except airport transfers)
  • 7-day Japan Rail Pass
  • Photography tuition over entire tour
  • Entry fees and cultural activities as listed in itinerary
  • 3 luggage transfers

Tour does not include:

  • International airfares
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals and food not listed in itinerary
  • Additional local transport and entry fees outside of itinerary
  • Portable wifi internet access (available through our partners Japan Wifi Rental Service)
  • Beverages (alcoholic & non-alcoholic)
  • Personal spending money
  • Tips & gratuities (not routinely expected in Japan)
Dates & Prices

13 – 28 Nov 2017

EARLY BIRD PRICING – $7895* pp

Limited places available for this Japan autumn photography tour!


* All prices shown are based per person in Australian dollars and include all taxes, gratuities, land transport, and some meals as indicated. Accommodation provided is based on twin share. Single supplement available at additional cost of $1295. Airfares are not included and must be organised separately. Prices and itineraries at time of publishing but are subject to change. Payments online using Paypal attract a 3.6% service charge. No service charge applicable for direct deposit payments. Please call or email us for more details. View our full terms & conditions here.

Map

JapanCJAT2017_map

Bookings

2017 Classic Japan Autumn Tour – Booking

To book your place on the Classic Japan Autumn Colour Tour, you will need to complete a Booking Form and make a deposit*. We accept payments via direct deposit, Paypal or a credit card (through Paypal).


ONLINE PAYMENT

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DIRECT DEPOSIT PAYMENT
For direct deposits, please transfer payment to the following bank account and email the transaction record to admin@incrediblephototours.com:
Bankwest – Garden City, 125 Riseley Street, Booragoon WA 6154
BSB: 306066
Account number: 2762488
Account name: Incredible Photo Tours


SEND US YOUR BOOKING FORM
Please email the completed booking form to us at admin@incrediblephototours.com and we will get back in touch with you regarding room preferences.


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If you are making an international telegraphic transfer (TT) into our account, please email us at admin@incrediblephototours.com and we will provide you with further details so you can proceed with the telegraphic transfer. Any bank fees incurred to accept the telegraphic transfer will be payable by the sender.


* Tour deposit is non-refundable and the balance payment of the tour is to be paid to our bank account via direct deposit or Paypal no later than 30 days of tour departure. Payment details will be emailed to you upon confirmation of your deposit payment and allocation of your place on the tour. Full Payment and balance payment online using Paypal includes a 3.6% service charge. There is no service charge using direct deposit. By making a Deposit or Full Payment you agree to our booking terms and conditions.

QUICK DETAILS

Start: Tokyo, Sun 13 Nov. 2017
End: Osaka, Mon 28 Nov. 2017

Places visited: Tokyo, Matsumoto, Hakone, Himeji, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Okayama, Takamatsu, Mt Koya, Osaka

Transport: Bullet train, regular train, public bus, taxi

Accommodation: 3-4 star hotels in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Himeji, Okayama and Osaka; 3 star ryokan (Japanese style inn) in Hakone; shukubo (temple lodging) in Mt Koya.

Extra days: Pre- and post-tour accommodation available. Book here.

Type of tour: Small group photography tour
Group size: Min 4, Max 8
Fitness level: Moderate (please refer to FAQ)

Price: AU$8195 pp twin share
(single supplement AU$1295)

TESTIMONIALS

I greatly enjoyed my photography holiday to Japan with Incredible Photo Tours and Julius. It was an action packed holiday with an excellent overview of Japan and ample time to take photographs. Julius had clearly spent time checking out the best locations and stunning scenery. The travel and hotel arrangements all went as per the […]

Jan Ison

My partner and I went on the Japan Autumn Tour 2016 with Incredible Tours. Not having gone on a photography tour before we were both a little anxious and did not know what to expect.

What we received was nothing short of an amazing experience.

Michele & Peter

ITINERARY

Day 1 – TOKYO – [Mon 13th Nov]

Arrive at Narita or Haneda Airport and make your way to our accommodation located in Ginza. If you arrive early you can take the opportunity to explore the world-famous shopping area of Ginza or around Tokyo Station nearby.

A welcome dinner will be held and we’ll discuss the photography and activities we will undertake in Tokyo over the next few days.

Accom: Tokyo
Meals: D

Day 2 – TOKYO – [Tue 14th Nov]

A packed first day as we start off with an early morning visit to Tokyo's most famous temple – Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Followed by Tsukiji Market, famous for its early morning tuna auction*, and in the process of moving in 2017. You can enjoy a super fresh sushi meal nearby after seeing all the incredible variety of seafood on sale.

After lunch, we visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens, part of the site of the former Edo Castle, and featuring a nice Japanese garden. Nearby is the stunning Tokyo International Forum building, an architectural masterpiece.

From late afternoon, we visit Shibuya, home to the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing. After dinner in Shibuya, we have the option of exploring and photographing around Ginza. Ginza is home to the flagship stores of many luxury fashion brands and there are many incredible examples of architecture here.

Accom: Tokyo
Meals: B

* if you are interested in visiting the tuna auction this requires arriving at Tsukiji Market by 2:30am in order to safely secure a spot for the auction (first in best dressed, with only 120 places available for two auctions) and will not be accompanied by the tour leader. The first auction is from 5:25-5:50am, the second from 5:50-6:15am. We do not consider Tsukiji tuna auction to be photographer-friendly. We have an alternative and much better tuna auction we can visit at the end of the tour. Please contact us for more details about this.

Day 3 – TOKYO – [Wed 15th Nov]

A morning visit to Showa Memorial Park, one of the largest parks in Tokyo and a fantastic autumn colours location. The highlight here are the ginkgo trees, including a beautiful ginkgo avenue.

The afternoon is some free time for you to explore Tokyo on your own, we recommend checking out one of Ueno's many museums. 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.

Accom: Tokyo
Meals: B

Day 4 – TOKYO, MATSUMOTO – [Thu 16th Nov]

Our final morning in Tokyo includes visits to Harajuku, famous for its crazy fashion and youthful vibe, and the spacious and peaceful grounds of Meiji Shrine.

A brand new addition to our tour this year is a visit to Matsumoto, located 3 hours from Tokyo. Home to Matsumoto Castle, one of the best original castles in Japan, and often considered as beautiful as Himeji Castle.

Accom: Matsumoto
Meals: B

Day 5 – HAKONE – [Fri 17 Nov]

We make our way to Hakone, famous for its natural beauty, hot springs, and views of Mount Fuji. After taking the scenic Hakone Tozan Railway line, we'll be visiting the Hakone Museum of Art, home to one of Japan's best moss gardens and autumn colours.

Accom: Ryokan in Hakone
Meals: B

Day 6 – HAKONE – [Sat 18 Nov]

We explore Hakone further in the morning and explore around Lake Ashinoko and the sights of Hakone, before making our way to Himeji.

Accom: Himeji
Meals: B

Day 7 – HIMEJI, TAKAMATSU – [Sun 19 Nov]

We visit Himeji Castle, Japan’s finest surviving example of castle architecture.

After lunch,In the afternoon, we make our over the Great Seto Bridge to visit Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu City. Ritsurin is one of the most impressive gardens in Japan and often rated alongside the famous "Three Great Gardens".

Accom: Hiroshima

Meals: B

Day 8 – HIROSHIMA – [Mon 20 Nov]

Hiroshima is best known as the first city to suffer an atomic bomb attack in history. Despite this tragic event, the city was rebuilt after the war and a number of monuments are present to remember the atomic bomb victims and to promote peace.

We spend the day in 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.

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.

Accom: Okayama
Meals: B

Day 9 – OKAYAMA – [Tue 21 Nov]

In the morning, we visit Korakuen, one of Japan's "Three Great Gardens" and with the stunning backdrop of Okayama Castle, also known as "crow castle" due to its black exterior.

After lunch, we have a long transit to Mount Koya (Koyasan), the center of Shingon Buddhism, and the start and end point of the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage route . We stay overnight at a temple lodging (shukubo) where you can get a taste of a monk's lifestyle. There is also the option to visit the Okunoin Temple cemetery as part of a night tour* run by one of Mt Koya's temples.

Accom: Temple stay
Meals: B, D

Day 10 – MOUNT KOYA, KYOTO – [Wed 22 Nov]

We have an early start to experience the unique morning prayer ritual of our temple before breakfast. We explore more of Mount Koya including Okunoin Temple, where the Kobo Daishi, the founder of Shingon Buddhism is enshrined. The cemetery surrounding Okunoin is the largest in Japan.

In the centre of town, we visit Kongobunji Temple, the headquarters of Shingon Buddhism and featuring beautiful screen doors and Banryutei, the largest rock garden in Japan.

We then head off to Kyoto in the afternoon. After checking in and bit of free time, we'll go to visit Eikando Temple and its fantastic autumn night illuminations.

Accom: Kyoto
Meals: B

Day 11 – KYOTO – [Thu 23 Nov]

This morning we visit Arashiyama in western Kyoto, a popular destination for tourists and locals alike especially during cherry blossom and autumn colour seasons. Among the attractions in Arashiyama are the famous Sagano bamboo forest, and home to a number of beautiful autumn colour temples in Tenryuji and Jokkajoji.

After lunch, we visit the spectacular Saihoji, also known as Kokedera (“Moss Temple”)*. Kokedera’s moss garden is regarded by many as one of the best zen gardens in the world.

Accom: Kyoto
Meals: B

*Saihoji is subject to a strict visitor entry quota and is at the discretion of the temple. Where we cannot secure places for all tour participants, we will visit other spectacular sites in Kyoto, e.g. Rurikoin Temple.

Day 12 – KYOTO – [Fri 24 Nov]

Today we visit some of the city’s most famous temples including: the gold-covered Kinkakuji (also known as the “Golden Pavilion”); Ryoanji, featuring Japan’s most famous zen rock garden; and Ginkakuji ("Silver Pavilion") with its famous dry sand garden.

After lunch we head south to visit Fushimi Inari Shrine and its thousands of torii gates, which make a seemingly endless vermillion tunnel up the mountain side. Try finding one of the lanterns attached to a gate! The gates look amazing as the light changes in the late afternoon and past sunset.

Accom: Kyoto
Meals: B

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Torii gates at Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社)

Day 13 – KYOTO – [Sat 25 Nov]

For our final day in Kyoto we have have an early start with a visit to Tofukuji temple, one of Japan’s most famous autumn colour locations.

Next is our tour's special highlight – a walking tour of Gion guided by a Kyoto guide, with a special private lunch accompanied by a maiko (apprentice geisha), there to serve and talk with us! Learn more about the world of geisha while enjoying Kyoto cuisine. This is a truly exclusive gathering, it’s just our tour group, our guide/interpreter, and the geisha. And yes, you will have the chance to take photos with the geisha!

The late afternoon is free time on our final day in Kyoto.

Accom: Kyoto
Meals: B

Tofukuji

Autumn colours at Tofukuji (東福寺)

Day 14 – OSAKA, NARA – [Sun 26 Nov]

This morning is free for you explore on your own until the lunchtime. Take the opportunity to visit some of Osaka's landmarks, including Osaka Castle, and the Umeda Sky Building.

In the afternoon 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!

Accom: Osaka
Meals: B

* The Osaka Market is open Mon-Sat, except national & temporary holidays. The tuna auction starts at 4:15am, and currently there are no restrictions on tourist access, but this may be subject to change.

Kyoto kaiseki cuisine

Kaiseki (懐石) cuisine

Day 15 – OSAKA – [Mon 27 Nov]

The morning is free for you to explore on your own. Catch up on some souvenir shopping or visit Osaka Aquarium, one of the largest public aquariums in the world. If you are especially keen, you could also visit the Osaka Central Wholesale Market which has its own tuna auction, a much more intimate affair compared to Tsukiji's popular one.

In the evening, we 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. Finishing off, we'll celebrate with our final dinner together in Dotonbori.

Accom: Osaka
Meals: B, D

* The Osaka Market is open Mon-Sat, except national & temporary holidays. The tuna auction starts at 4:15am, and currently there are no restrictions on tourist access, but this may be subject to change.

Day 16 – OSAKA – [Tue 28 Nov]

The end of our tour and after checkout we will assist you with transfers to the airport for your flight home or continue with your travels in Japan.

Accom: N/A
Meals: B