Without any doubts, the best seasons to visit Japan are spring and fall. It is not only because of the pleasant temperatures, but also of the spectacular natural phenomenon that offers in the both seasons: cherry blossoms and autumn leaves. And Tohoku is one of the best places to enjoy them without crowded tourists like in Tokyo or Kyoto.
Moreover, Tohoku, a region far from the big cities and located in the northern part of the country, also gives us a chance to get to know rural and authentic Japan that we cannot find in big cities. Tohoku is surely deep Japan that welcomes us with the unique and impressive nature, hidden hot springs in the magical enclaves, and traditional handicrafts that keep alive quietly in the valleys.
Although you can easily reach some of the towns of Tohoku by bullet train from Tokyo, it is quite difficult to explore deep inside Tohoku because of the numerous mountains, rivers and volcanoes. But these are the very places where you can find real treasure of Tohoku and Japan. We will take you there.
Discover Japan with the authors of the photo book “Japan/日本”
Toru Morimoto and Tina Bagué, both professional photographers, have organized a dream trip to Tohoku to enjoy the beauty of autum leaves in traditional villages and relaxing and healing hot springs that spread all over Tohoku. Sleeping in high-class hotels, enjoying luxurious Japanese dinner, kaiseki, as well as delicious local food, travelling by a private bus with a professional driver, and visiting placing off the beaten tracks are some of the elements that make this tour more special.
This photo tour to Japan is not just a trip for photographers, but also for everyone how wants to have unique and unforgettable experiences.
* “kokeshi” is traditional typical wooden doll of Tohoku
* “shamisen” is a Japanese three stringed musical instrument
Toru Morimoto and Tina Bagué are both professional photographers with more than 20 years of experience behind them. Both have been traveling Japan together since 2002. Their photo project, The Japan Photo Project, started in 2010 when they decided to leave everything behind in Spain and spend a whole year of their life (365 days) photographing Japan from the northernmost island of Japan (Hokkaido) to the tropical islands of Okinawa, with a motorhome. As a result of this road trip, they published their first co-authored book “Japan/日本“.
The fact that Toru Morimoto is Japanese and has lived half of his life in Japan and the other half abroad, and that Tina Bagué is Spanish and has traveled countless times to Japan makes them the perfect couple to guide and lead a small group of photo lovers and people who want to travel out of the beaten track in Japan. They organize a unique and unforgettable photo tour to Japan full of top-notch photographic opportunities and wonderful experiences during this adventure.
Once the reservation is made the participants will receive a dossier with the complete information of the tour. For now this is a small introduction of our photo tour to Japan – Tohoku.
The meeting point of this organized tour to the northern part of Japan will be Tokyo station. We will take a bullet train there to Yamagata station. Once we are there, a private bus that will carry us for the next 9 days in this tour will pick us up. From Yamagata station, we will head to Mount Zao from which we can see the incredible crater Okama from a short distance. After lunch, we go down to a hot spring village of Zao where we will bathes in an outdoor hot springs bath in the middle of nature. Dinner
In the morning, we will go up Mount Zao (1.736m) by a cable car to enjoy the impressive and photogenic views of the mountain painted with colorful autumn leaves. We will stroll on the top of the mountain, and go down to Zao hot springs village by a cable car to explorer the village. After a lunch, we will head to Naruko, a village famous for handcrafted wooden doll called kokeshi and hot springs. We will visit a workshop of kokeshi to see how a kokeshi is made in front of our own eyes. After sunset, we will enjoy hot springs bath in our hotel. We will also take you a public hot springs bath in the village if you wish. Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner
From Naruko, passing by famous valley with autumn leaves, we will go up to north until we reach to Morioka, center of the production of handmade iron kettles. We will visit a workshop of the handicrafts. After a lunch, we will keep going up to north. In the evening, we will arrive at Hirosaki where we will find ourselves in the middle of illunated beautiful autumn leaves with a castle. Breakfast-Lunch
From Hirosaki, we will head to Mount Hakkoda (1.585m) where we will go up by a cable car to enjoy the impressive views of the landscape covered with the carpet of autumn leaves. After taking a walk in the colorful mountain, we will approach to Sukayu hot springs, one of the most oldest hot springs in Tohoku with more than 300-year-old history. In the afternoon, we will arrive at the city of Towada to visit the famous contemporary art museum, Towada Art Center, where large format art works by Japanese and international artists are featured inside and outside of the museum. This night, we will stay over a night at a luxurious hotel, Hoshino Resorts, in Oirase. Breakfast-Dinner
In the morning we will stroll along the Oirase River to enjoy the breathtaking landscape. If you were a nature photographer, this is a perfect place for you. We will stroll along the river to enjoy the smell and sounds of the nature. At lunchtime, we will head to Lake Towada where we will eat local food and get on a cruising boat. We will be amazed by the beautiful landscapes of the lake, visiting two peninsulas of the lake that were only accessible by boat. In the evening, we will arrive at a very special ryokan, in a magical place hidden in the narrow valley where a stream crosses. We will find ourselves in a fairy tale. This place is lit up only by oil lanterns. No electricity is available at room. Forget everything and make your mind totally blank in hot springs baths. It is absolutely unique experience. Breakfast-Dinner
In the morning we will head to a park in Hirosaki to visit the small and lovely castle, and take pictures of the wide varieties of autumn leaves in various tones. In the afternoon, we will visit Mount Iwaki surrounded by the rice fields, which is the absolute beauty of rural Japan. Then we will go on an excursion to Shirakami Sanchi, impressive virgin forest of Japanese beech, declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. If we have time, we will stop by a Shinto shrine of Iwaki Yama. At night we will have a dinner in a restaurant where we can enjoy dinner with live music of shamisen, a three-stringed Japanese traditional music instrument that is very popular in this region of Tohoku. Breakfast-Dinner
We will keep going up to north until we arrive at a wonderful town of Kakunodate with samurai houses. Created in 1620, Kakunodate is one of few cities in Japan that maintains the atmospheres of its old time. We will take a walk along the river and visit one of the samurai houses to enjoy the architecture of the 17th century. In the evening, we will head to a ryokan, Japanese style inn, lost in the middle of nature, with authentic interior and amazing outdoor wooden hot springs baths of more than 300-year-old history. It is a magical place where splendor multiplies at night. For a dinner, we will have a traditional local cuisine Breakfast-Dinner
We will leave Nyuto Onsen toward to Yamagata prefecture, stopping at Lake Tazawa. In the afternoon we will arrive at Mount Haguro, one of the Three Mountains of Dewa (Dewa Sanzan). Dewa Sanzan is a popular pilgrimage destination to visit shrines of each mountain. In this season, it is only accessible to the shrines on the top of the Mount Haguro. In a foggy day, the shrines become very mysterious, giving a great opportunity for photographers. We will descend the mountain and head to a small hot springs village, Ginzan Onsen, where we will stay at a ryokan. At night we can take a walk in the romantic hot springs village in yukata (thin kimono) and geta (Japanese wooden sandals) just like authentic Japanese people. Breakfast-Dinner
In the last day of our photo tour to Japan, we will visit Yamadera temple. This temple offers impressive views over the valley and walking course with many wooden temples with more tan 1000 years old. The walking course has more 1000 stone steps that lead to the top of the mountain little by little. It is easy walk and perfect to take pictures on the way up to the mountain. After lunch, we will head to Yamagata Station to take a bullet train to go back to Tokyo. Breakfast-Lunch
Eating and sleeping in Japan is not a mere process, quite the opposite. Traditional food and accommodation is a very important part of the Japanese experience, as well as of the photographic work.
During our photo tour to Japan we will combine nights in ryokans with nights in western hotels. Ryokan, traditional Japanese style inn, with tatami room, kaiseki food and thermal baths, offers a myriad of photographic opportunities, from the beauty of the dishes to the minimalist aesthetics of the rooms. Whether they are traditional Japanese inns or western hotels, most of them are high class accomodations with thermal baths in their facilities to relax at the end of the day.
The rooms will be twin room (with two beds), so participants who come alone will share a room with another single participant. There might be some nights with a single room if twin rooms are not availble. If you wish to stay in a single room for the whole trip, you must pay a supplement. But single room might not be available in some of the accommodations.
Restaurants are carefully selected to enjoy the varieties of Japanese food from sophisticated kaisei to homemade local food. Not to be forced to eat the same things together, some of the meals are not included. If breakfast or lunch is not included, since we normally go to a restaurant together for breakfast or lunch, you just choose what you would like to eat and you pay for it. If dinner is not included, each person can choose a restaurant to dine. If you don’t want to look for a restaurant, you can also go to a restaurant where the tour leaders go, and you just pay for what you eat.
If anybody has allergy or food intolerance problems, or is a vegetarian, we will try to make the necessary changes in the menus when it is possible.
Once the first payment of the deposit has been made, these are the conditions of return of the deposit of the €1.000:
Once the full payment has been made, these are the return conditions of the remaining of € 2,990:
“Discover Tohoku with Toru Morimoto and Tina Bagué, both professional photographers specializing in Japan. An adventure away from the crowds and tourist areas. Capture the true spirit of Japan!”
PRICE: € 3,990
DATES: from October 26 to November 3, 2018 (9 days)
SEATS: 6 to 10 participants
STATE: open to sign up
RESERVATION: send email to email@example.com
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