JAPAN: Kyoto & Osaka Sakura Sessions
JAPAN: Kyoto & Osaka Sakura Sessions
MARCH 18-26 2019
Welcome to the land of the rising sun. Against the stunning backdrop of autumn, join us on a photographic adventure to capture the heart of Japanese tradition and the beautiful landscape.
This is a city of some 2000 temples and shrines: a city of true masterpieces of religious architecture, such as the retina-burning splendour of Kinkaku-ji (the famed Golden Pavilion) and the cavernous expanse of Higashi Hongan-ji. It's where robed monks shuffle between temple buildings, prayer chants resonate through stunning Zen gardens, and the faithful meditate on tatami-mat floors. Even as the modern city buzzes and shifts all around, a waft of burning incense, or the sight of a bright vermillion torii gate marking a shrine entrance, are regular reminders that Kyoto remains the spiritual heart of Japan.
While the rest of Japan has adopted modernity with abandon, the old ways are still clinging on in Kyoto. With its roots as the cultural capital of the country, it's no surprise that many traditional arts and crafts are kept alive by artisans from generation to generation. Wander the streets downtown, through historic Gion and past machiya (traditional Japanese townhouses) in the Nishijin textile district to find ancient speciality shops from tofu sellers, washi (Japanese handmade paper) and tea merchants, to exquisite lacquerware, handcrafted copper chazutsu (tea canisters) and indigo-dyed noren (hanging curtains).
If you don't know your matcha (powdered green tea) from your manga (Japanese comic), have never slept on a futon or had a bath with naked strangers, then it doesn't matter as this is theplace to immerse yourself in the intricacies of Japanese culture. Whether you watch matcha being whisked in a traditional tea ceremony, spend the night in a ryokan, get your gear off and soak in an onsen, join a raucous hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) party or discover the art of Japanese cooking – you'll come away one step closer to understanding the unique Japanese way of life.
Japan's first permanent capital, Nara (奈良) is one of the country's most rewarding destinations. With eight Unesco World Heritage Sites, it's second only to Kyoto as a repository of Japan's cultural legacy.
The centrepiece is the Daibutsu (Great Buddha), which rivals Mt Fuji and Kyoto's Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) as Japan's single most impressive sight. The Great Buddha is housed in Tōdai-ji, a soaring temple that presides over Nara-kōen, a park filled with other fascinating sights that lends itself to relaxed strolling amid greenery and tame deer.
Nara is also compact: it's quite possible to pack the highlights into one full day. Many people visit Nara as a side trip from Kyoto, but with an overnight stay (there's high-quality accommodation for all budgets) you might spend one day around the city centre, another exploring west and southwest of here (areas called Nishinokyō and Ikaruga, respectively) and/or another exploring more far-flung historical destinations.
If Kyoto was the city of the courtly nobility and Tokyo the city of the samurai, then Osaka (大阪) was the city of the merchant class. Japan's third-largest city is a place where things have always moved a bit faster, where people are a bit brasher and interactions are peppered with playful jabs – and locals take pride in this.
Osaka is not a pretty city in the conventional sense – though it does have a lovely river cutting through the centre – but it packs more colour than most. The acres of concrete are cloaked in dazzling neon; shopfronts are vivid, unabashed cries for attention. This is not a city that prefers to dress all in black.
Above all, Osaka is a city that loves to eat: it's unofficial slogan is kuidaore ('eat until you drop'). It really shines in the evening, when it seems that everyone is out for a good meal – and a good time.
This trip has an activity rating of moderate; travelers should be in good health, comfortable walking or standing for extended periods, and prepared for multiple hours of activity on some days. Excursions may include navigating uneven terrain, climbing stairs without handrails, and walking on paths with steep sections.
Accommodation in deluxe western style hotel (based on double occupation, upgrade available)
All tuition & mentoring
Transport during tour
Location fees and venue admission
DOES NOT INCLUDE
Airfare to and from Osaka
Meals, drinks, snacks or other discretionary expenses
DEPOSIT: 50% upon booking. Final payment by February 15, 2019 Non-refundable, transferable.
Cancellation and refund policy:
If you cancel and the workshop is otherwise full, we will refund you the full amount, minus a $150 service charge as follows:
Greater than 60 days from the start date of the workshop: full refund minus $150 fee
60 days: 75% refund
45 days: 50% refund
Less than 30 days: no refund
Refunds will be paid in the same method that the original payment was made.
Refunds will be initiated within 72 hours of the time that the request is approved.