Japan Photo Workshops with Mark Hemmings

PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP LOCATIONS – Tokyo, Nagano, Matsumoto, and Kyoto

International travel photographer and workshop instructor Mark Hemmings is ready for his annual one week Japan photography workshop and tour, scheduled for Sunday February 5 to Saturday February 11, 2023. We will also be photographing the world famous Japanese Snow Monkeys in Nagano.

Message from professional photographer Mark Hemmings: “The country of Japan is a really hot destination now. In fact, the World Economic Forum gave Japan the very high ranking of fourth out of thirty countries for travel and tourism competitiveness, trailing only Spain, France, and Germany.

I don’t want you to miss out on Japan. What it offers for food, nature, cities, architecture, wildlife, and especially my favorite . . . photography! That’s why I’m inviting you to the Japan trip of a lifetime.

Since 2005 I’ve been leading photography workshops and tours throughout Japan, and this coming year is no exception. My job is two-fold . . . to teach you photography, AND to introduce you to one of the most intriguing countries and cultures in the world.

What better place to learn street, architecture, and urban photography than Tokyo? It’s hard to beat Nagano for mastering landscape, nature and wildlife photography, and where else in the world can you step back in time and witness the unique natural and cultural gems of Kyoto?

The Japan Photo Tour is meant for photographers of all skill levels and all types of cameras. Whether you’re a beginner or pro, whether you have a ten thousand dollar camera or an iPhone, YOU are well positioned to receive maximum technical and artistic skills by joining the Japan Photo Tour.

But this isn’t just any photo tour that chooses low end hotels and transportation methods . . . The Japan photo Tour is my premium photography workshop that stays in high-end hotels and traditional inns, uses the famously fast Japanese bullet trains to explore the country, and makes full use of Japan’s famous culinary arts.

Japan is a land of mystery and beauty, and I believe it’s now time for you to visit and photograph this magical country. And as I’ve been a photography workshop instructor for so many years now, I am thrilled to pass along my two decades worth of professional photographic knowledge to you during this trip.

Because I like to keep this photography tour small, there are very limited spaces remaining, so contact me right away to get more sign-up information. I am quite certain that you will LOVE Japan, and come back home with a wealth of amazing photographs, a new passion for photography, and a strange fascination for the most chilled out and relaxed animals on earth . . . the world famous Japanese snow monkeys! Living your entire life soaking in natural hot spring water? Nice!!!

My name is Mark Hemmings, an internationally recognized professional photographer, and I cordially welcome you to the Japan Photo Tour. I hope to see you in Tokyo!”

Please view the Japan Photo Tour & Workshop video below to get an idea of what you may encounter on this photography trip:


The one week workshop includes all meals, all subways and taxis, all accommodations, all teaching time, and all admission fees. Exceptions are mid-meals snacks/drinks/alcoholic beverages, and return airfare from your home city to Tokyo Narita or Haneda airport. This all-inclusive full package is $4,950 USD for a double occupancy room. For single occupancy, please add $400 USD.

Please contact Mark for further details about this workshop: mark@markhemmings.com (FaceTime enabled). Also, CBS News did a report on the Japan Photo Tours, specifically the visits to the Snow Monkeys. Press play on the video below to watch the episode.

“Snow Monkeys” (CBS Sunday Morning, Feb 2016) from Randy Schmidt on Vimeo.


Since 2005 Mark Hemmings has been leading photography enthusiasts throughout Japan, taking them on an enlightening tour of a visually and aesthetically rich country.

SUNDAY DAY 1 – Most international flights arrive at Narita Airport around 5pm, and similar times at Tokyo Haneda airport. Feel free to choose either Haneda or Narita airport. If you arrive in Japan today, you will be picked up at the airport by Mark or one of his associates and delivered to the workshop hotel. If you arrive in Japan earlier than today you will be asked to purchase your own bus or train ticket to Shinjuku, Tokyo. This transfer into Tokyo is quite easy, and Mark can give you full instructions. When we are gathered as a group at our hotel we will go out for our first dinner, and discuss the exciting week that lies ahead of us! After dinner we will practice night street photography in Shinjuku.

MONDAY DAY 2 – This morning is our day of exploring the fascinating sub-cities of Tokyo, traveling along the Yamanote train line. We will be learning about architectural photography, urban/street photography, and techniques for great travel photos. The Yamanote line is a huge circle around Tokyo. Some locations that we will visit and photograph are Ueno, Akihabara, Tokyo station area, Yurakucho, Shibuya, Harajuku, and back to our home base of Shinjuku. Our breakfast will be at the hotel, and then our lunch and dinner will be at restaurants along the train line.

TUESDAY DAY 3 – After  breakfast we will get on the famously fast and comfortable Japanese bullet train (Shinkansen) for our journey to Nagano. We will break up the trip by stopping at Ueda City to have lunch at a fantastic traditional Japanese restaurant, then re-board the bullet train to arrive in Nagano city mid-afternoon. After a coffee break at Nagano Station we will then board a mountain train for our final destination in the mountainous Shiga Kogen region of Nagano. We will be staying in a beautiful and authentic traditional inn called a ryokan. For those who like natural hot springs, there are plenty in this village and in the inn. After our traditional multi-course Japanese dinner we are free to soak in the public hot springs throughout the village, or in the traditional inn’s own natural hotspring baths. There’s nothing quite like soaking in hot water with snow falling on your head!

WEDNESDAY DAY 4 – After breakfast at our inn we will go for a wonderful hike into the mountains to photograph the world famous Japanese Snow Monkeys. The path that we take into the mountains is all uphill, but at a slight incline so it is not too strenuous. Please pack a pair of water resistant hiking shoes as there will possibly be a lot of snow in the mountains.  After our snow monkey photography adventure we will have a late lunch at a local cafe, and will then head back to Nagano Station to get a train to Matsumoto. We will stay overnight in a traditional Japanese inn and photograph the historic Matsumoto Castle.

THURSDAY DAY 5 – After breakfast at our traditional inn we will get back on the train and go straight to Kyoto. We will spend our evening in the Gion district, looking to photograph Geisha as they go from tea-house to tea-house.

FRIDAY DAY 6 – Today is our full day in Kyoto, exploring the many photogenic sites that make it a world-class destination. Mark has many great locations to visit and photograph, and the list will be given out to the participants when a long-range weather forecast is available. Locations include the famous Bamboo Forest, Higashiyama, Poncho, the Shirakawa canal plus many others.

SATURDAY DAY 7 – Mark will be taking everyone back to Tokyo today for their flights home. If you are staying in Japan longer, Mark will make sure you get off the bullet train at the appropriate station while the rest of us continue on to either Tokyo Haneda or Narita Airport. Thank you for joining the Japan Photo Tour!

Please contact Mark with any questions! mark@markhemmings.com or 506-898-0204


Most frequent questions and answers

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. Each February Mark returns to Japan to offer photographers such as yourself a glimpse into one of the most interesting cultures of the world!

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 5 and 10 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 15 degrees celsius.

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. 

Mark has been to Japan thirteen times, and lived in Nagano Prefecture from 2000-2001. Mark’s desire to always return to Japan speaks well of the country! There’s always a new photo opportunity around every corner.

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.

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. Don’t ever feel that you will hold others back! Our workshops are geared to be of value to photographers of all skill levels.

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.

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. If you only use a mobile device you will not feel out of place.

We operate this workshop with a maximum of 7 participants.

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

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.

Tokyo Haneda (HND) or Narita (NRT) are both equally good airports to fly into. We suggest that you make your decision based not on which airport, rather which airport will allow you to arrive in Japan for (at the latest) mid-afternoon on the first day of the tour. Our desire is to all have dinner together on evening #1, so a 3pm arrival in Japan at the latest would be ideal.

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.

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

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. However we have scheduled the trip to be within the ideal range of historical snowfalls.

Check out our Tour Photos!

More Tour Photos from 2005 to Current: