Classic Japan Cherry Blossom

30st March – 12th April 2018

14 days | $7990* EARLYBIRD $7490 – SAVE $500!| BOOK NOW

– Read our 2016 Tour Report.

Intro & Highlights

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!

Highlights

This tour provides a wealth of incredible photography opportunities and unlike any other during Japan’s cherry blossom 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:

  • Saihoji (the “Moss Temple”) – Kyoto’s most exclusive temple open to the public and a World Heritage landmark.
  • Tokyo Skytree – Asia’s tallest building at 634m with spectacular views over Tokyo.
  • Chidorigafuchi moat – arguably Tokyo’s most photogenic cherry blossom spot.
  • Tsukiji Fish Market – famous for its tuna auction, and due to move location from late 2015. Visit this Tokyo icon while it’s still in Tsukiji!
  • 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.
  • Otagi Nenbutsuji – one of Kyoto’s quirkiest and least-visited temples featuring hundreds of stone statues.
  • Visits to several Kyoto World Heritage monuments, including Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion), Ginkakuji, Ryoanji, and Nijo Castle.
  • Himeji Castle – after years of renovations, Japan’s best castle has now reopened!
  • Miyajima – famous for its iconic “floating” torii gate and Itsukushima Shrine.
  • Kintaikyo – this beautiful bridge is one of the best examples of wooden bridge architecture in the world.
  • Private geisha dinner – it’s just our small group with a geisha and interpreter!
  • Mount Yoshino – Japan’s most famous cherry blossom location for centuries.
  • Photographic training and personalised feedback from Julius Pang, a multi award winning photographer and Japan travel expert.
  • Great food and optional activities!
Inclusions

Classic Japan Cherry Blossom Tour includes:

    • 13 nights accommodation (3-4 star hotels)
    • 13 breakfasts, special geisha lunch
    • All local land transport (except airport transfers)
    • Japan Rail Pass
    • Photography tuition over entire tour
    • 2 photography workshops
    • Entry fees and cultural activities as listed in itinerary
    • 2 luggage transfers

Tour does not include:

    • International airfares
    • Travel insurance
    • Airport transfers
    • Meals and food not listed in itinerary
    • Portable wifi internet access
    • Beverages (alcoholic & non-alcoholic)
    • Personal spending money
    • Tips & gratuities (not expected in Japan)

Activities:
Tokyo Skytree, Tsukiji Market, Meiji Shrine, Shibuya, Himeji Castle, Ritsurin Garden, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Itsukushima Shrine, Kintai Bridge, Kinkakuji, Ryoanji, Todaiji, Gion walking tour, private geisha dinner, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Nanzenji, Ginkakuji, Nijo Castle, Otagi Nenbutsuji, Saihoji, Mount Yoshino.

Map
Classic Japan Cherry Blossom Tour 2017 Map
Classic Japan Cherry Blossom Tour 2017 Map
Dates & Prices

30 March – 12 April 2018

$7990*pp $7490pp EARLY BIRD SPECIAL

BOOK NOW


* All prices shown are based per person twin share in Australian dollars and include all taxes, gratuities, land transport (except airport transfers), and some meals. Single supplement is $1290. Airfares are not included and must be organised separately. Prices and itineraries are correct 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 check the inclusions and email us to confirm or to find out more details. View our full terms & conditions here.

Bookings

2018 Classic Japan Cherry Blossom Tour – Booking

To book your place on the Classic Japan Cherry Blossom Tour:

  1. Complete this Booking Form (PDF)
  2. Make a deposit or full payment*.
    We accept payment via direct deposit, Paypal or a credit card:

Paypal payment:

Choose Payment Option:


Direct deposit:
Please transfer Deposit payment of AUD$500 or Full Payment of AUD$7490 to the following bank account and email the transaction record to admin@incrediblephototours.com. Please note all foreign exchange fees for payment are the traveller’s responsibility:
Bankwest – Garden City, 125 Riseley Street, Booragoon WA 6154
BSB: 306066
Account number: 2762488
Account name: Incredible Photo Tours


International Telegraphic Transfers:
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. Please note, TT payments usually have additional fees levied on both the sender and receiver, and all 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 within 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. Deposit, Full Payment and Balance Payment made 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, 30 March 2018
End: Kyoto, 12 April 2018

Places visited: Tokyo, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Iwakuni, Himeji, Takamatsu, Kyoto, Osaka, Mount Yoshino

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

Accommodation: 3-star hotels in Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Osaka. Apartment in Kyoto.

Type of tour: Small group photography tour
Group size: Min 2, Max 8
Fitness level: Moderate (please refer to FAQ)

Price: AUD$7990pp  $7490pp twin share – save $500!
(single supplement AU$1290)

TESTIMONIALS

I consider that when I “Googled” “photo tours in Japan” it was one of my luckiest days as it gave me the details for one of the best tours I have ever heard about.

Sue & Rob Pursell

Thank you very much for a wonderful tour of Japan. I thoroughly enjoyed all the places you took us to and also the great photo opportunities we had. Japan is an amazing place and it was a great introduction to all that Japan is, the traditions, customs, people, tourist attractions.

Maria Jenkins

ITINERARY

Day 1 | 30 Mar. 2018 (Fri) | TOKYO

Arrive at Narita or Haneda Airport and make your way to our accommodation located in Kiyosumi, just east of central Tokyo. An introductory dinner will be held and we’ll discuss the photography and activities we will undertake in Tokyo over the next few days.

Accom: Comfort Hotel Kiyosumi Shirakawa
Meals: D

Day 2 | 31 Mar. 2018 (Sat) | TOKYO

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.

Accom: Comfort Hotel Kiyosumi Shirakawa
Meals: B

Day 3 | 1 Apr. 2018 (Sun) | TOKYO

We start off our day with a morning visit Tsukiji 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.

Accom: Comfort Hotel Kiyosumi Shirakawa
Meals: B

* Tsukiji Market will be relocated to Toyosu from Nov. 2016. Details of how the new market will operate, e.g. tuna auction and opening hours, will only be available later in the year.

Day 4 | 2 Apr. 2018 (Mon) | TOKYO

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.

Accom: Comfort Hotel Kiyosumi Shirakawa
Meals: B

Day 5 | 3 Apr. 2018 (Tue) | HIMEJI

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.

Accom: Hotel Park Side Hiroshima Peace Park
Meals: B

* 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 | 4 Apr. 2018 (Wed) | HIROSHIMA, IWAKUNI, MIYAJIMA

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.

Accom: Hotel Park Side Hiroshima Peace Park
Meals: B

Day 7 | 5 Apr. 2018 (Thu) | KURASHIKI, TAKAMATSU

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.

Accom: Ibis Styles Osaka
Meals: B

Day 8 | 6 Apr. 2018 (Fri) | NARA, OSAKA

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.

Accom: Ibis Styles Osaka
Meals: B

Day 9 | 7 Apr. 2018 (Sat) | NARA, OSAKA

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.

Accom: Ibis Styles Osaka
Meals: B

Day 10 | 8 Apr. 2018 (Sun) | KYOTO

We make our way to Kyoto this morning and we'll visit Kiyomizudera*, one of Japan's most famous temples located in eastern Kyoto. Along the way we will visit the Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka preserved districts, featuring two of Kyoto's most attractive streets.

Mid-afternoon, we will visit the geisha district of Gion and view a performance of the Miyako Odori, Kyoto’s famous spring dance performance staged by the geisha of Gion Kobu.

From late afternoon, we visit Fushimi Inari Shrine and its thousands of torii gates, which make a seemingly endless vermillion tunnel up the mountain side. For a challenge, 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: Orient Gojozaka
Meals: B

* Kiyomizudera is currently undergoing renovations and these will continue until the end of the decade. The renovations have some impact on the view, particularly the covered pagoda at the front (this can be hidden to some extent in photos). Put simply, Kiyomizudera doesn’t look picture perfect at the moment and it is why this is an optional visit on this tour. It is still a great location for classic temple "street" photography images.

Why are we telling you all this? At Incredible Photo Tours, we have experienced ourselves the misfortune of visiting landmarks under renovations and also being misled about how photogenic a location happens to be. Renovations represent one of the major problems in travel photography and our policy is to fully research the current state of landmarks and advise potential clients on any renovations or restoration work that have an impact on the photography. We are the only travel company that does this and we feel this is the only ethical thing to do seeing as we promote a photography and travel product. There are several major landmarks currently undergoing renovation in Japan but we are fortunate that Japan has such a wealth of incredible landmarks that we can choose from to photograph. For any further questions about this, please feel free to contact us.

Day 11 | 9 Apr. 2018 (Mon) | YOSHINO

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.

Accom: Orient Gojozaka
Meals: B

Day 12 | 10 Apr. 2018 (Tue) | KYOTO

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.

Accom: Orient Gojozaka
Meals: B

* 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 | 11 Apr. 2018 (Wed) | KYOTO

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 maiko (apprentice geisha/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!

Accom: Orient Gojozaka
Meals: B, L

Day 14 | 12 Apr. 2018 (Thu) | KYOTO

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

Accom: N/A
Meals: -