JAPAN PHOTO TOUR 2025

WITH MARK HEMMINGS

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

 

International travel photographer and workshop instructor Mark Hemmings is ready for his annual one week Japan photography workshop and tour, scheduled for Tuesday January 21 to Monday January 27, and Saturday February 1 to Friday February 7, 2025. We will also be photographing the world famous Japanese Snow Monkeys in Nagano. Scroll down for pricing information.

 

Message from professional photographer Mark Hemmings: “The country of Japan is a really important travel destination. The World Economic Forum gave Japan the highest ranking of first out of the top 10 countries for travel and tourism development. 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?

Mark Hemmings Japan photo Tour

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. Also check out the second video that CBS Sunday Morning created featuring Mark and his photo tours to visit the famous Japanese snow monkeys:

JAPAN PHOTO TOUR COSTS

The one-week workshop includes all meals, all subways and taxis, all local and bullet train fares, 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 per person for a double occupancy room. For single occupancy, please add $495 USD. Please contact Mark for further details about this workshop: mark@markhemmings.com (FaceTime enabled) or 506-898-0204 (Canadian mobile number). 

ITINERARIES

Since 2005 Mark Hemmings has been leading photography enthusiasts throughout Japan, taking them on an enlightening tour of a visually and aesthetically rich country. While both itineraries below are based on previous years, there may be alterations of equal or better visual and cultural value based on in-country changes. Mark will lock down the itinerary closer to the departure time. Until then consider the following itineraries as 90% accurate.

 

Due to higher demand for the Japan Photo Tour, for 2024 we are offering two different dates with different experiences. After you read through the itineraries, please check out the Itinerary Summary which will help you decide which trip is right for you.

Mark Hemmings Japan photo Tour

DAY 1 TOKYO – FOR THE JANUARY GROUP:

3:00pm meet as a group in the hotel lobby to check and to have our orientation session. Please have your camera gear with you as we will be out for the entire evening. If your flight arrives today Mark’s associate will arrange to pick you up and take you to the hotel.
4:00pm begin our photo walk. Here is a rough list of locations that we will be visiting and photographing: Omoide Yokocho – Nishi Shinjuku bridge (for long exposures) – Kabukicho neon lights – Godzilla Head and more if time allows. Tripods are optional.
6:30pm okonomiyaki dinner.
8pm to 8:30pm optional timelapses of Kabukicho plus other neon lights photography. 

 

 

FOR THE FEBRUARY GROUP:

6:30pm group meets in the hotel lobby for our orientation and introductions.
7pm dinner at local Shinjuku restaurant.
8pm to 8:30pm Kabukicho neon lights photography. 

 

Mark Hemmings Japan photo Tour
BOTH TOUR DATES WILL EXPERIENCE THE MOST PHOTOGENIC LOCATIONS IN TOKYO
MT FUJI BY MARK HEMMINGS
THE JANUARY GROUP WILL SPEND THE DAY AND NIGHT AT ENOSHIMA/KAMAKURA, WITH A VIEW OF MT. FUJI

DAY 2 TOKYO TO ENOSHIMA – FOR THE JANUARY GROUP: 

10am from Shinjuku Station to Kamakura Station, leave our luggage at our Kamakura hotel.

11:45am easy-paced photo walk along the Shichirigahama beach boardwalk, arriving at Shichirigahama Station, then a famous local train to Enoshima. We will be doing a fair amount of walking after our local lunch, but at a relaxed pace, exploring and photographing the beautiful Enoshima Island area.

Weather permitting we’ll be photographing Mt. Fuji from a distance.

6pm dinner at a local, then back to our hotel for the night.

 

 

FOR THE FEBRUARY GROUP: 

8:30am depart the ground floor hotel lobby for our full day tour of Tokyo. We will be travelling Tokyo via the Yamanote loop line, which is a very large circle that stops at most of the Tokyo sub-cities. Some of our photo walk locations include Ueno Ameyokocho market street photography, Okachimachi to Tokyo Station for architectural photography (both ground-level and rooftop aerial perspectives), the Tokyo International Forum building architectural photo shoots, traditional Kyoto ramen lunch, Yurakucho traditional Yokocho izakaya alleyways street photography, the famous Shibuya Scramble timelapse lessons, Harajuku including Takeshita Street, Shinjuku Station’s Omoide Yokocho alleyway street photography, and Kabukicho long-exposure photography until 5:30pm

6pm dinner at a local Shinjuku restaurant.  

Mark Hemmings Japan Photo Tour
THE SHIRAKAWA CANAL IN THE GION GEISHA DISTRICT OF EAST KYOTO
Mark Hemmings Japan photo Tour
THE PICTURESQUE HOT SPRING VILLAGE OF SHIBU ONSEN

DAY 3 ENOSHIMA TO KYOTO – FOR THE JANUARY GROUP:

11:30am depart Fujisawa Station for Kyoto Station, check in to our Kyoto hotel at about 2:30pm.

3:30pm depart our hotel for our afternoon and evening photo walk. We will explore the Higashiyama side of Kyoto on foot, taking taxis from Kyoto Station. Here is a general list of locations:

Kiyomizu-dera Temple – Sanneizaka – Yasaka (Hokan-ji) Temple – Nineizaka – Nene Street – Yasaka Shrine – Hanamikoji Street in Gion (home of the Geisha) – Tatsumi bridge and shrine – Shirakawa canal – Pontocho Geisha district. Today will have a lot of walking but it will be at a slow pace with plenty of rest stops. 

6:30pm we will take taxis back to our hotel.

7pm group dinner at a nearby restaurant. 

 

 

FOR THE FEBRUARY GROUP, TOKYO TO NAGANO: 

9am take trains to Yudanaka Station.  

12:30pm from our traditional Japanese mountain inn take taxis to the base of the mountain, then after a leisurely hike through the woods, photograph the snow monkeys until dusk.

5:30 return to our inn, free time before dinner.

6:15pm group kaiseki (multi-course) dinner. 

8pm free time hot spring soaking within the inn, or any of the village hot spring baths.

Mark Hemmings Japan Photo Tour
EARLY MORNING PHOTO SHOOT IN THE FAMOUS BAMBOO FOREST OF KYOTO
Mark Hemmings Japan photo Tour
PHOTOGRAPHING THE FAMOUS JAPANESE SNOW MONKEYS IS ALWAYS REWARDING!

DAY 4 KYOTO – FOR THE JANUARY GROUP: 

6:15am depart our hotel lobby, take taxis to Kyoto’s bamboo forest. Then taxis to the Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion.

9am arrive at the Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion for a 1-hour photo walk. 

10:30am arrive at our hotel for a free time break.

12pm meet in the hotel lobby with camera bag, as we will be out for the rest of the day. Lunch at a nearby restaurant. 

1pm (to whenever) from Kyoto Station and take the local train to Fushimi. This is a mountain path with photogenic red gates. The end time of this hike is dependent on how long you want to explore the mountain. Some participants will see what they want within a half hour, others may want to stay for a few hours. To that end, Mark will be at the bottom of the mountain and will meet each person as they return on their own schedule. If any of you want to return to Kyoto Station for shopping while the others are on the mountain, Mark will lead you to the correct train with full instructions. 

5pm we will meet in our hotel lobby and will photograph Kyoto from Kyoto Tower. After our photography session we will choose one of the Kyoto Tower restaurants for dinner.   

 

FOR THE FEBRUARY GROUP, NAGANO: 

8:45am leisurely mountain photo hike, photograph the famous Japanese snow monkeys.

12pm lunch at the base of the mountain.

Option #1 for those who got enough snow monkey photos:

1pm depart Enza Café for a slow and all-downhill walk to Tamamura Honten, a traditional sake brewery, then back to the hotel for free time.

Option #2 for those who want more time with the snow monkeys:

1pm depart restaurant and return to the snow monkeys, photographing them until dusk. An easy walk all downhill or taxi back to the hotel. 

6:15pm group kaiseki (multi-course) dinner.

Mark Hemmings Japan photo Tour
JAPANESE MULTICOURSE MEALS ARE WORLD-CLASS, AND OF COURSE INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS!
Mark Hemmings Japan Photo Tour
THE BACKSTREETS OF KYOTO ARE ALWAYS PHOTOGENIC

DAY 5 KYOTO TO MATSUMOTO – FOR THE JANUARY GROUP: 

10am optional architecture tour of Kyoto Station.

12pm depart Kyoto on the bullet train arriving at 

Matsumoto Station at about 3pm. 

3pm check-in to our hotel rooms. Free time until 4pm.

4 pm meet in the hotel lobby, walk to Matsumoto Station to get taxis to Matsumoto Castle.

4:20pm arrive at Matsumoto castle, get a photographic tour of the castle interior, then capture golden and blue hour photographs of the castle exterior.

5:45pm leisurely walk back to our hotel stopping mid-way to eat at a local restaurant.

7:30pm (approximate) return to our hotel, free time for the rest of the night. Don’t forget to try out the hotel’s natural hot spring baths on the roof!

 

 

FOR THE FEBRUARY GROUP, NAGANO TO KYOTO:

9:54am depart Yudanaka Station for Kanazawa Station with a stop for lunch. 

1:20pm from Kanazawa Station to Kyoto Station, then check in to our Kyoto hotel.

4pm rest time.

5pm meet in the hotel lobby, taxis to Mark’s favorite Kyoto restaurant which includes traditional Japanese garden photography sessions. Dinner at 6pm.

Mark Hemmings Japan Photo Tour
A JAPANESE SNOW MONKEY POSING FOR MARK!
Mark Hemmings Japan photo Tour
THE FAMOUS BAMBOO FOREST OF KYOTO

DAY 6 MATSUMOTO TO SHIBU ONSEN – FOR THE JANUARY GROUP: 

8am depart Matsumoto Station for Yudanaka Station arriving at our traditional inn for about 11am. 

11:45am eat lunch at a local restaurant.

12:45pm start the mountain hike to photograph the Japanese snow monkeys.

4pm arrive back at our traditional Japanese inn either by walking (all downhill) or taxis, check in to our rooms.

4:45pm meet in the inn’s lobby for an optional photo walk. Sunset is at 5:07pm so tripods are a good idea if you have one.

6:15pm group kaiseki (formal multi-course) dinner. 

8pm free time hot spring soaking within the inn, or any of the village hot spring baths. 

 

 

FOR THE FEBRUARY GROUP, KYOTO: 

6:15am depart our hotel lobby, take taxis to Kyoto’s bamboo forest. Then taxis to the Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion.

9am arrive at the Kinkakuji Golden Pavilion for a 1-hour photo walk. 

10:30am arrive at our hotel for a free time break.

12pm meet in the hotel lobby with camera bag, as we will be out for the rest of the day. Lunch at a nearby restaurant. 

1pm depart for our afternoon and evening photo walk. We will explore the Higashiyama side of Kyoto on foot, taking taxis from Kyoto Station. Here is a general list of locations: 

Kiyomizu-dera Temple – Sanneizaka – Yasaka (Hokan-ji) Temple – Nineizaka – Nene Street – Yasaka Shrine – Hanamikoji Street in Gion (home of the Geisha) – Tatsumi bridge and shrine – Shirakawa canal – Pontocho Geisha district. This afternoon will have a lot of walking, but it will be at a slow pace with rest stops at Mark’s favorite cafés. The last walk will be Pontocho, and we will then have our dinner at a local restaurant.

7:30pm we will flag taxis back to our hotel for free time. If anyone wants to walk-off their meal, Mark can lead a stroll down the photogenic Takase River canal and then pick up a taxi at Kawaramachi Station.

Mark Hemmings Japan photo Tour

DAY 7 TOKYO – FOR THE JANUARY GROUP: 

10am depart Yudanaka Station arriving at Tokyo Station at noon.

12:30pm onwards – Mark leads each guest to their airport train, or for those who are staying in Japan longer, to either their desired Tokyo hotel or train platform to another Japanese city. Thanks for joining us on the Japan Photo Tour!


FOR THE FEBRUARY GROUP, TOKYO: 

Some of you may plan to stay in Kyoto longer after we finish our breakfast in the hotel, but for those who are travelling with Mark back to Tokyo, we will plan our Kyoto departure time based on the first flight out of Tokyo. For example, if the first flight is from Narita airport at 3pm, Mark will calculate backwards to schedule our Kyoto to Tokyo bullet train departure time. Mark always makes sure that there is plenty of time (at least 3 hours) for guests to be at either Haneda or Narita airport prior to their flight home. Thank you for joining us on the Japan Photo Tour!

 

SUMMARY: The January trip has a few more locations to visit, and the February trip has much more time photographing the snow monkeys. Please contact Mark with any questions: mark@markhemmings.com or 506-898-0204

FAQ & CONTACT INFO

1. “How long have you been operating the Japan Photo Tour?” Mark Hemmings started the Japan Photo Tour and Workshop in 2005, and operated it annually. He took a break from the workshop during the Covid travel restrictions of 2021 and 2022, but restarted the trip in 2023. Each winter Mark returns to Japan to offer photographers such as yourself a glimpse into one of the most interesting cultures of the world!

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 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.

3. “How many times have you been to Japan?” 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.

4. “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 may present some challenges for you, but feel free to contact Mark to discuss options.

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

6. “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.

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

8. “How many workshop participants?” We operate this workshop with a maximum of 8 participants.

9. “What is included in the cost of this photo tour? Is it all-inclusive?” Upon meeting Mark Hemmings in Japan and until we depart at the end of the workshop, all meals 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. The tour begins at supper time the first evening, and ends just after breakfast on our last day with our bullet train returning to Tokyo.

10. “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. 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.

11. “Is there any free time on this trip? How busy is the itinerary?” 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.

12. “I want to stay in Japan longer than just one week. Can you help me extend my trip?” Many workshop participants like to stay in Japan longer, and Mark will do his best to help with accommodation and sightseeing options.

13. “What are some potential issues that may keep me from signing up?” 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.

14. “How do I know that you are a legit business?” 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. His website is www.markhemmings.com and his Instagram is @markhemmings

15. “Do you have a  refund policy?” Yes, our policy is part of our contract/application and will be emailed to you upon request. Please ask Mark for a copy for you to review: mark@markhemmings.com

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Mark Hemmings
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JAPAN PHOTO TOUR LEADER MARK HEMMINGS