Japan Photo Tour – Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms, Temples, Nature, and Crazy Tokyo

15 days, 14 nights


About the tour

This tour is great for anyone looking to experience a mixture of the beautiful and quirky sides of Japan.  It is designed to teach how to make better photos, and to tell great travel stories.

Great photography comes from great experiences and opportunities.  This tour is designed to provide both, as well as expert advice on shooting in many different situations.   The trip includes several photo lectures, advice on producing travel stories, and a master class on photo editing.

But you don’t have to be a photographer to have a great time on this tour, since it is all about experiences.

We are looking for independent travelers who enjoy a slightly ad hoc experience, and have a positive attitude when things don’t go as planned.


March 24th – April 7th, 2019.  15 Days, 14 Nights

8 Guests Maximum

Cost – $5300


  • Prime Cherry Blossom Season
  • Exploring Tokyo nightlife and fashion
  • Historic temples and gardens of Kyoto
  • Two nights stay at beautiful Lake Kawaguchi by Mt Fuji
  • A visit to Okunoshima, a tiny island with hundreds of wild rabbits
  • An option for a beautiful, full day, island hopping bike ride
  • A ride on one of Japan’s famous bullet trains
  • Designed for great experiences and photo opportunities
  • Photography talks and coaching, including video and drones


Note: This itinerary is still a work in progress and will change.  It will be finalized by December 1st.

Day 0


nelson_ronald_1Day 1

  • Talk: Creating photos that tell stories
  • Walk around the gardens of the Imperial Palace and Yasukuni Shrine.  Expect to see a lot of cherry blossoms
  • Group lunch
  • Shopping in Ginza
  • ‘Get to know you’ dinner at an Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant


nelson_ronald_15Day 2

  • Talk: Taking photos of people
  • Shinjuku Gyoen.  A garden with wonderful Cherry Blossoms
  • Photoshoot of models in traditional dress, in the gardens
  • Return to hotel
  • Talk: Taking photos at night
  • Robot Restaurant
  • Evening tour of crazy shops around Shinjuku


nelson_ronald_1Day 3

  • Talk: Advanced composition techniques
  • Ikebana class.  A hands on flower arranging class followed by an opportunity to create professional photos of our own, or a master’s, flower arrangements
  • Group lunch
  • Harajuku.  We’ll explore this trendy fashion district and have lunch in one of the funky cafes there.
  • Shibuya.  Dinner and a nighttime walk around this modern maze of neon lit streets


nelson_ronald_2Day 4

  • Ueno Park
  • Senso-ji Temple
  • Group lunch along the Sumida River with the cherry blossoms
  • Akihabara:  An evening walk around this district focused on games, toys, and anime
  • Group dinner
  • Maid Cafe: we’ll stop in a Maid Cafe


Day 5

  • Shibari:  Rope bondage demonstration and hands on class
  • Free afternoon.  Catch up on rest and photo editing
  • Shinjuku: Visit some of the strange shops and bars near our hotel, like: the cat cafe, or the prison bar


Day 6

  • Talk: Techniques for better landscape photos
  • Bus ride to our hotel on Lake Kawaguchi, a location with amazing views of Mt. Fuji
  • A short trip across the lake for sunset photos of Mt. Fuji
  • Fuji View Hotel or similar


Day 7

  • Gather for sunrise photos of Mt Fuji
  • Talk: Editing you photos with Lightroom and Snapseed
  • TBD: Lakeside biking, nature walk, visit to historic village, visit to tea plantation, have a soak in a hot spring spa (onsen)
  • Gather for sunset photos of Mt Fuji, possible drone demo
  • Photo reviews.  Get feedback on your photos and building your travel story


Day 8


Bridge Between Innoshima and Ikuchi Islands, JapanDay 9

  • Biking the Inland Sea.  A beautiful all day bike ride, traversing several small islands between two of Japan’s major islands.  Distance 40 miles
  • Alternative: visit Fukuyama Castle, and an historic fishing village in town


Many Rabbits on Ōkunoshima Island, Japan - 2014Day 10

  • Okunoshima:  a visit to Japan’s famous ‘Island of Rabbits’
  • Group lunch
  • Shinkansen train ride to Kyoto
  • Photo reviews.  Get feedback on your photos and building your travel story
  • Share Hotels Rakuro Kyoto or similar


Kinkakuji, Kyoto, Japan - 2014Day 11

  • Maiko photoshoot.  A private photoshoot with a geisha in training in the historic back alleys of Kyoto.  Approximately one model per 2-3 photographers.
  • Temple Visits.  TBD, possibly Ryoanji, Kinkakuji
  • Group lunch
  • Cherry blossoms at night. Nijo Castle


Cherry Blossoms, Heian Shrine, Kyoto, Japan - 2014Day 12

  • Temple and garden visits.  Amazing cherry blossoms.  TBD, possibly Katsura Imperial Villa, Kiyomizu-dera, Heian Shrine, Philosopher’s Path
  • Group lunch
  • Cherry blossoms at night.  Toji Temple


Red Torii Gates, Fushimi Inari, Kyoto, Japan - 2014Day 13

  • Fushimi Inari Shrine.  Famous for it’s path with hundreds of red Torii gates
  • Farewell dinner.  Participants are invited to show the photo essays they created during the trip


Day 14

  • Transfer to Osaka for flights home

Tour Philosophy

  • This is a small, personal, friendly tour
  • The tour is designed to provide great experiences and photo opportunities
  • With talks and coaching, we hope all participants will be better photographers, and story tellers, by the end of the tour
  • The goal is to explore and learn, not just be shown around
  • You don’t need to take photos to have a great time
  • All activities are optional, you can be as busy or as relaxed as you like

Lodging and Meals

  • Rooms are non-smoking, have two single beds, and in room facilities
  • If you are traveling alone, you will need to share a room with another guest
  • Breakfast at the hotel is included every day.  Western and Japanese styles available
  • Vegetarian options available at all included meals
  • 7 lunches included
  • 4 dinners included


  • All accommodations are included, including ‘Day 0’
  • All transportation, including Shinkansen tickets
  • Admission and fees for all scheduled activities
  • Shared portable wifi hotspot
  • Photography talks, coaching, and critiques

Not Included

  • Airfare
  • Hotel rooms before or after the tour
  • Transportation from the airport to the hotel
  • Dinner on ‘Day 0’
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Souvineers
  • Travel Insurance or emergency services

Rates, Reservations, Cancellations

  • Tour cost $5,300
  • A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to hold the trip
  • Full payment must be made by Feb 1, 2019.  No refunds will be given after Feb 1
  • Prior to Feb 1, 2019 full refunds will be given, minus the deposit
  • If at least six guests don’t register by Feb 1st, the trip will be cancelled, and full refunds will be given, including the deposit
  • Inquiries and booking, contact ron@ronaldnelsonphotography.com

Visa and Passport

US citizens don’t need a visa to enter Japan.  You must have a valid passport and an onward ticket.  Your passport must be valid for the entire time you are stay in Japan.

Travel is Unpredictable

  • Cherry blossoms are fleeting, unpredictable, and not guaranteed
  • Bad weather may cause activities to be changed
  • We will make every effort to do everything planned, but reserve the right to make changes as we deem appropriate