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 renown travel photographer Paul Pichigun, 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 Takayama
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 Takayama. The village is picture perfect with the wooden shopfronts and quaint streets covered in snow. The views from the old lacquered bridge in the centre of town create an atmospheric scene indeed.
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
Sony Digital Imaging Advocate Andy Yee specialises in travel and tourism photography. When not leading workshops in exotic locations, he can be found in Sydney, Australia working as a visual content creator and photo educator.
As evidenced by his diverse portfolio and winner of the Sony Alpha Landscape Award, Andy utilises his camera to capture the harmony between people, culture, and landscapes. His work has been described as expressive and inspiring. He harnesses his attention to detail to compose images with a classic look as opposed to chasing trends.
Andy’s passion for photography is infectious. He has a knack for translating the mysteries of image creation into concrete, practical language. Using his work as a springboard, he guides people to draw upon their own creativity to discover their individual styles. His balance between one-on-one instruction and critique enables learners to capture the shots they see in their minds.
What Andy finds most rewarding is inspiring others to take their cameras along on their own adventures. He is passionate about leveraging his professional skill and knowledge to advance others to the next level. Experiencing learners’ joy of capturing images the way they want to see them is what motivates Andy to continue finding new ways to support the creative process.
Paul Pichugin is a dad to three awesome daughters, fortunate husband to the best wife anyone could ask for, proud brother to a sister who is doing amazing things, and a son to some pretty incredible parents. He also takes photographs for a living.
He loves what he does, and you can often see him pinching himself before murmuring "this *isn’t* a dream", and you can't blame him. His career as a photographer has taken him kayaking and snorkeling in Antarctica, night kayaking amongst the bioluminescence in Tasmania and hiking through blizzards in the Tasmanian mountains. He's hung out of plane shooting aerial photography in Queensland, Dubai and Western Australia and camped with Bedouin in Jordan as well as riding horses around the Great Pyramids of Egypt – all the while with camera in hand.
His travel photography has caught the eye of some alluring clients, including location shoots for Jeep, Qantas and American Express. He has hosted photography workshops around Australia, Cambodia, Jordan and Iceland.
Japanese Cuisine and Accommodation
Japan is a gastronomic destination in and of itself. With such a wide and varied selection to choose from, you will learn that Japanese food is more than just Sushi. From succulent seafood to giant bowls of Raman, crispy tempura, or Kansai Okonomiyaki, you will come to appreciate all of what Japan has to offer your palate. All breakfasts, and one meal, either a lunch or dinner, will be provided.
We will be staying in three-star or greater hotels during our trip. Each has been selected for their value and offers a comfortable stay in petite but modern and well-equipped rooms. All rooms on the workshop will be provided as dual-occupancy, but a single occupancy is available for an additional €600.
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.
Two professional photography guides
Ten nights accommodation
One meal a day, lunch or dinner
Transportation in private cars
Return Airfair from Tokyo to Hokkaido
All entrance fees to photography locations
Post-Processing sessions during the tour
Airfare to/from Japan
Optional Single Supplement - additional €1000 available on request
Equipment and baggage insurance
Visas (if applicable)
For more information, please read the full Terms and Conditions
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Reviews for Aperture Tours
I felt the instructors push you to improve at each shoot and there was great camaraderie between all the participants. I could not recommend this trip enough. An amazing experience made better by the teaching and the company.
The learning and sharing from all and the different perspectives of all participants were wonderful. Having the expertise and guidance of three professional photographers added to the value and learning experience of this workshop. The instructors are fantastic, caring and understanding individuals who always went the extra mile to ensure that everyone was comfortable and happy... Definitely customer centric individuals!!
The Aperture Tours Workshop was a great experience! We covered some great locations, and the leader's knowledge of the area meant we didn't waste time getting to the best locations at the optimum times. The accommodation and food were excellent, and the leader's knowledge meant we got a good 'taste' of life as well as some truly memorable memories and images.