Nikko and all of its appeals are waiting for you. From Toshogu, Japan’s most vibrantly decorated shrine to Futarasan jinja and Rinno-ji, all of which are a part of Nikko’s UNESCO world heritage site. Nearby, the vermilion lacquered bridge is sacred Shinkyo, decorating the entrance of Nikko’s sanctuary. Surrounded by natural beauty, you will have access to Chuzenji, the lake just above Nikko as well as the Kegon Waterfalls. A Japanese photography workshop must include Mt. Fuji and the Fuji five lakes, Yamanakako, Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Shojiko, and Motosuko. As you take awe-inspiring photos, you can also experience Shinrin-Yoku, ‘natural therapy’ which is said to play a key role in Japanese longevity. Another must see location is Hakone, where you can further heal yourself with the natural spas used since before the start of the Edo Period. Once you have completed your stroll on the Tokaido, a 400-year old cobblestone road, you will be sip tea at Amazake Chaya, a tea house rejuvenating travelers for over 350 years.
When joining photography workshops, you will be introduced to Japan’s rich cultural heritage and depth of Japan’s natural and handcrafted beauty. Maple leaves in red, orange, and yellow are awe-inspiring, especially when commingled with the brilliant golden light cast on Mt. Fuji, Anraku-ji Zen Buddhist Temple, Yatsugatake Mountain Range, and several other spots visited by Blain and participants. You will experience ‘Shirin-Yoku,’ ‘natural therapy’ or ‘forest bathing,’ as we do every season at Japan’s nationally treasured sites. On all our tours and workshops, participants can enjoy the finest Japanese cuisine. Our focus in autumn is to guide you the client on the time-honored route similar to the ones the samurai, Buddhist Shinto monks, artisans once made and still do to this day, in order to paint the perfect picture.
When snow is falling, Blain and team shift their attention towards the wild frontier of Japan, bringing you another awe-inspiring dimension of the far east cultural treasures, a Japan winter wildlife photography safari workshop. Participants have up-close encounters with species such as the Snow Monkeys, Red-Crowned Cranes, Sika Deer, Red Tailed Foxes, Blakinston Fish Owls, White-Tailed Eagles, then traveling by boat through pack-ice to photograph the fierce Steller’s Sea Eagles that have existed since prehistoric times; their numbers are stable at around 5,000, but they remain on the endangered list. Winter workshops mainly focus on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island which transforms in winter to a birder's paradise and South for Snow Monkeys in Nagano and Mt. Fuji in Yamanashi. In the winters of 2015 - 2018, Blain and participants photographed the largest herd of Sika Deer on the planet. Blain and his team of professional staff photographers workshop guides, drivers, and technical staff look forward to sharing these unforgettable sights with you in 2018, 2020, 2021 and beyond.
During the 20+ years Blain has been leading cherry blossom photography tours, he and his team have followed time-honored routes, creating one path from six separate pilgrim's routes, guaranteeing you will experience the perfect cherry blossoms on a life-changing, cross-country adventure, an experience that Blain and team improve upon every year. Highlights include the Tokyo Skyline, Geisha-Maiko Ochaya 'teahouses' and processions, Mt. Fuji, snow monkeys, exotic birding for the elusive nectar drinking 'Mejiro' bird, onsens, Buddhist-Shinto shrines, Zen gardens that ancient samurai strolled on while enjoying green tea on castle grounds.