From the majestic Mt. Fuji to the adorable Snow Monkeys of Jigokudani and the fantastic festivals in Hokkaido, Winter is the perfect season to capture the beauty of Japan.
We will embark on an eleven-day intensive photography workshop covering the most photographic sites, from buzzing cities to the calm atmospheric landscapes, stretching the length of Japan. Lead by landscape award-winning photographer Andy Yee, and accompanied by self-admitted Japanophiles Alexander J.E. Bradley and Giovanni Piliarvu, this tour will push your photography to the next level. The intimate group size is designed for personal attention to develop your photographic vision.
Day 1-2 — Tokyo
We start our magnificent journey across Japan in the bustling metropolis of Tokyo. Once we have all arrived, we will sit together for a delicious meal as we get to know one another before heading out into the electric Shibuya district to shoot the neon-lit future. We will shoot the back streets the following day, from Harajuku and Omotesando through to the skyscraper district of Shibuya and the impressive Metropolitan Government Building. In the afternoon we will set up for our sunset session from the top of the Bunkyo Ward building. During this time of the year, it is possible to catch “Diamond Fuji”, where the sunset perfectly aligns with the tip of the mountain, so fingers crossed the shy mountain isn't so bashful and puts on a show for us. As night falls and the lights flicker on, we will visit Asakusa to shoot Sensoji temple during its magical hours.
Day 3-4 — Mt. Fuji and the Five Lakes region
Throughout the ages artists have been fascinated by Mt Fuji's size, breadth and symmetry and after a short drive from Tokyo, we will immerse ourselves in Fuji-san from every possible angle. The Five Lakes region offers superb close viewing of the snow capped peaks from green tea plantation to hidden waterfalls and pagodas. We will perfect the best images of the most recognisable mountain in the world.
Day 4 — Matsumoto Castle to Shirakawago
We will pass by Japan's oldest castle, the Matsumoto Castle, also known as the "Crow Castle" owing to its black facade. The castle will be drapped in snow providing the perfect setting for shooting the keep over the moat. In the afternoon we will reach the unique historic village of Shirakawago. The village is picture perfect with the traditional hut roofs built with a steep incline to disperse the deep snow the region receives. We will be sure to capture the mountain village as it twinkles after dark.
Day 5-6 — Snow Monkeys and hot springs in Jigokunda
During the middle of our trip, we slow down a little to relax in the soothing hot springs, or Onsen as they are known in Japan, at Jigokunda in the Alpine region of Nagano. We will not be the only ones bathing in the onsen; wild Japanese Macaque, or Snow Monkeys, descend from the steep cliffs to sit in the warm waters during the colder months. It is a sight not seen anywhere else in the world, and an experiencing that is truly unforgettable.
Day 7-9 — Sapporo Snow Festival and the Biei Landscapes
After returning to Tokyo, we will fly to Japan's rugged northern island: Hokkaido. Our visit is timed to coincide with the Sapporo Snow Festival: a massive carnival of illuminated snow sculptures and ice-statues that take over the city streets and parks. The following day will see us dive into a winter wonderland to shoot the incredible snow-covered landscapes of the Biei area, known for their broad and hilly farming lands, it is just majestic in winter. We will rise before dawn to capture Shirogane waterfall during the blue hour, they are truly a unique incandescent cascade.
Day 9-11 — Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
We round out our winter workshop at the Snow Light Path festival in the canal village of Otaru. The mixture of the snowy fishing village and the glittering lanterns creates a sycophantic atmosphere. The coastal rock formations in nearby Yoichi are unforgettable, and if we have time, we might pop across to one of Japan's oldest Whisky distilleries, the Nikka Yoichi, for a wee dram. One last night shooting the canal before we fly back to Tokyo for some sake before we part ways.
Your Professional Photographer Guides
The Sony Alpha landscape award-winning photographer Andy Yee specialises in travel and tourism photography. When he is not living out of a suitcase, he is a content creator and photo educator based in Sydney, Australia.
His attention to detail provides a classic look, rather than a trend. As a photographer, he places importance to engage, educate and entertain an audience. A photographer can do all these things and make a difference in people’s perception of the world. To be able to travel abroad and capture the harmony between people of different cultures and beautiful landscapes, these are the things that inspire him to chase, photograph and share.
Andy enjoys inspiring others and helps them seek out their own adventures and pushes people to their own boundaries. He is a contributor to the Travel2Next and Resource Travel networks; his commercial work is published in Signature Style & Travel, Indesign Live and Habitus magazine.
Alexander J.E. Bradley
Alexander J.E. Bradley is the founder of Aperture Tours and a former resident of Tokyo. A photographer by spirit he has dedicated himself to his camera and opening up the world in order to break down barriers.
Alexander's style has been described as a "vivid lucid dream" as he enjoys mixing surreal elements into his conceptual work. His passion for photography grew hand in hand with his passion for travel, having visiting over 50 countries worldwide to perfect his skill. Now he teaches photography in his adopted home of Paris to anyone who will listen to him. He is a bohemian, a photographer, a philosopher and traveler... in that order.
Alexander has been featured in publications such as Lonely Planet, Practical Photography, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Savoir Tout faire en Photographie and The Peninsula as well as being features on The Flickr Weekly and the TV show Galwat & Oklat Mico produced by Al Ghad Al Arabi TV.
An experienced Tokyo based photographer, originally from Sardinia, Italy, Gio is at ease within the Italian and Japanese cultures. He enjoys both just as long as you don't put soy sauce on a pizza or you'll see him sweating cold! Landscapes, traditional Awaodori festivals and street photography are his cup of tea.
Living with a camera in his hand in Tokyo for more than ten years he can make anyone dangerously fall in love with it. Alleys, gardens, temples, crowded streets and hidden tunnels. What more can you ask for? Neon and lights all night long? There is plenty of those as well!
Currently collaborating with exhibitions at the Island Gallery Tokyo, he has been featured by Sigma Japan, Canson/Maruman, and print publications in Japan and internationally.
Post Processing Workshops
We understand taking the photo is only half of the battle, so we will host post-processing workshops throughout the trip to help you create images that really stand out. Our leading photographers will sit down with you to assist your selection process, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop techniques and workflows, and developing your best images, so you showcase the best Japan has to offer.
The eleven-day tour covers a broad spectrum of photography and is guaranteed to be an unforgettable cultural experience. The trip is suitable for the photographer of all levels, from beginners, through to amateurs and right the way up to experts. The trip is organised by Andy Yee and Aperture Tours and holds the high attention to detail that mades Aperture Tours the benchmark in Photography Tours across the globe.
Cost: $3950 USD
Single occupancy supplement: $1000 USD
The cost will cover ten nights accommodation, ground transport, return domestic flights from Tokyo to Sapporo, park entrances fees and all main meals. 25% deposit required to secure your place. Total payment required two weeks before departure. Payment in instalments or all at once via Credit Card, bank transfer or PayPal. Flights to and from Japan from your home country are not included. Visa requirements are the participant's responsibility, make sure check your requirements and apply for any visas early to avoid complications. Contingency plans are in place for inclement weather, but sadly, we cannot guarantee clear weather.
Find out more
Reviews for Aperture Tours
Alexander taught us so much in such a short period of time. He is smart, high energy and focused on teaching. The photos we took will be treasured for a lifetime. The teaching included camera use, taking advantage of camera features we didn't know we had, design of photos such as use of line and light to create interesting shots, use of a tripod and long exposure times at optimal camera settings to create stunning images and much more. All this knowledge was shared with grace and good humor! We highly recommend!!! - Ellen M Ville
One of my friends recommend Aperture Tours as a great way to learn more about night photography. She had done the tour before and wanted to do it again so we booked together. Alexander was great and I learned a lot. I was very happy because he taught me how to use my camera in the way that made sense for me. He challenged me to think. Alexander does work with you and will teach you in the way that is best for you. He won't let you get too frustrated. - Michelle Beary
Alexander gave us the feel for a local neighborhood showing us some interesting parks and views that only a local would know about. He took the time to ascertain the level of my guests (he already knew of mine) and throughout the tour discussed the images we all were taking and offered his input as to what might be done to improve the shots in a very patient and friendly manner dependent on each of our levels. During the evening, he showed us photographic locations that most photographers would keep to themselves, allowing us to have once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for shots. He was equally informative, patient, and flexible while walking us through the outdoors. I highly recommend the tours if you are looking for what I was looking for. I recommend this tour to photographers of all levels, whether or not you're "trendsetters." If you are serious about your photography, make room in your budget for it! - Marc Mandelbaum