1. How long have you been operating these tours to Japan?

Mark Hemmings started the Japan Photo Tour and Workshop in 2005, and operated it annually. He took a break from the workshops after the tsunami of 2011, but has since restarted the trip as Japanese tourism is now healthy and strong.

2. Why is the tour in winter? What temperatures will I encounter?

We chose winter for this tour and workshop so we can capitalize on the snowy mountains for great Snow Monkey photos. Also, Japan is one of the most beautiful locations in the world when photographing in the winter. Tokyo will be between 2 and 8 degrees celsius, Nagano will be at about the freezing mark (between plus 2 and minus 2 celcius), and Kyoto will be warmer at about 8 or 10 degrees celsius.

3. How do I know that you are legit?

Mark has been a professional photographer from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada since 1997. Please do a Google search for Mark Hemmings Photography to see what the internet has to say about him, and feel free to check Mark’s personal website: www.markhemmings.com. Mark’s Facebook page is www.facebook.com/markhemmingsphotography and his Instagram page is www.instagram.com/markhemmings. Also, CBS News did a feature on Mark’s Photo Tours to Japan. Photos: http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/snow-monkeys-of-japan Video: https://vimeo.com/156173906

4. How many times have you been to Japan?

Mark has been to Japan thirteen times, and lived in Nagano Prefecture from 2000-2001

5. What kind of food will we be eating on this trip?

Most of the food that we will be eating at restaurants is Japanese food. There is very little Western food available, especially in the traditional inns. If you have a dislike of Japanese food this tour will may present some challenges for you, but feel free to contact Mark to discuss options.

6. I am a complete photographic beginner. Will I be the weak link of the workshop?

All of Mark’s workshops and tours are geared for any skill level, from beginners to pros. Each skill level will glean new information and leave the workshop with new inspiration.

7. What kind of camera do I need to buy for this tour?

Mark can teach participants that come with any type of camera, including mobile phone cameras. The type and cost of a camera is less of an issue than becoming grounded in compositional principles.

8. How many participants will be on this workshop?

We operate this workshop with a maximum of 7 participants.

9. What level of health do I need to attend this workshop?

There is a lot of walking on the tour, and some gentle mountain path hiking. Participants of any age are welcomed, but please be prepared for a significant amount of walking, crowded Tokyo subways, and bringing your luggage from one location to another.

10. Can I access my money from ATM’s in Japan?

Yes, international ATM’s are available everywhere we visit.

11. What is included in the cost of this photo tour?

Upon meeting Mark Hemmings in Japan and until we depart at the end of the workshop, all three meals per day are included, accommodations, in-country transportation, admission fees, and of course the photographic instruction. What is not included are alcoholic drinks, additional orders of food at the restaurants that we eat at, plus mid-meal snacks and drinks.

12. Should I get a flight to Tokyo Haneda (HND) or Tokyo Narita (NRT) airports?

Tokyo Haneda (HND) or Narita (NRT) are both equally good airports to fly into.

13. Is there any free time on this trip?

There are breaks during this trip almost every day for you to go off on your own to photograph, edit, or see the sites by yourself. A detailed schedule will be give to each person before the trip.

14. I want to stay in Japan longer than just one week. Can you help me with ideas on where to stay either before or after the workshop? 

Many workshop participants like to stay in Japan longer, and Mark has always been able to help with accommodation and sightseeing options.

14. What are some potential issues that may keep me from signing up?

It is important that each person considering this trip realizes the following:

There is no baggage forwarding services; you are responsible for transporting your luggage as we go from city to city. Thus, we ask that you only bring one wheel-able suitcase and one backpack. The lighter your luggage is, the easier it will be to move from location to location.

Please be aware that while rare, there have been winters in Japan without snow in the mountains where the monkeys live. The photo workshop operators cannot guarantee snow.