Japan Photo Tour: Autumn in Japan

Tour Intro

Autumn is one of the most spectacular times of year to visit Japan. The fall color lasts longer than in the Northeast of the US, therefore the trees should be bursting with color on this photographic journey. Strabo takes you from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, to UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Miyajima Island & Mount Koya, and ending in the ancient capital and heart of old Japan, Kyoto. Japan has it all from natural landscapes, ancient temples, traditional culture, and wonderful modern street photography.

Enjoy the excitement with Ron Rosenstock, on his return journey to Japan.

Tour Highlights

• Enjoy the immersion in to Japanese traditions, today’s culture, and stunning photography locations.
• Capture the pulse of Tokyo at the Meiji Shrine & Imperial Palace.
• Six nights in colorful Kyoto, with its many gardens and fall foliage.
• Miyajima Island and the floating Itsukushima Shrine.
• UNESCO World Heritage Site of Koya-san and the largest Zen garden in Japan.

Tour Itinerary

November 7: Depart Home
Imperial Gardens Tokyo

Photo By: Ron Rosenstock

Photo Location: Japan

You will need to depart today on an overnight flight to Tokyo (NRT), losing a day en route. If you would like us to arrange additional evenings and transfer to hotel, please notify Strabo Tours. Please note your international flight will need to be Multi-City, return can be from Kansai (KIX) or Osaka Airports (ITM).

November 8: Tokyo

Photo By: Ron Rosenstock

Photo Location: Japan

The airport is 1-1.5 hours from city center, therefore everyone will take their transfer of choice to the hotel. Options will be provided upon enrollment with estimated costs. Check in time at the hotel is 3PM. Enjoy some time to rest and unwind until you meet in the hotel lobby at 6PM for an introductory meeting with Ron and your local guide. The group will depart on public to a lovely restaurant for your welcome dinner. Overnight Tokyo (D)

November 9-10: Tokyo
Imperial Garden Tokyo

Photo By: Ron Rosenstock

Photo Location: Japan

During your stay in Tokyo you will visit and photograph places of historical and cultural significance. Your guide will travel with you via public transportation to markets, temples and beautiful gardens. A few of the highlights that have been chosen are Koishikawa Korakuen Garden, a small garden jewel, one of the oldest gardens in Tokyo. There is a pond in the middle, which the garden master designed so that the visitor sees a different scene every few steps. Sensō-ji is an ancient Buddhist temple located in Asakusa. It is Tokyo's oldest temple, and one of its most significant. Asakusa is one of the few neighborhoods in Tokyo where you might spot a Geisha. There are thought to be about 40 Geisha in the area, back in the 1930’s there were hundreds.

The next day photograph in Showa Kinen Park, and Meiji Jingu Shrine, dedicated to the late 19th-century emperor who opened Japan to the West. Tokyo's most famous Shinto shrine is wonderfully serene and austere, not colorful or flashy like other Asian places of worship. The moat outside the Imperial Palace may provide beautiful reflections of the bridges that surround it. Before retiring for the evening you will need to separate your luggage, as you will only need an overnight bag and camera gear for your journey tomorrow. Your large suitcase (1 per person) will be transported to hotel in Kyoto for the following evening. Be sure to keep with you your camera gear, important documents, prescriptions, and clothes for a day. (B both days)


November 11: Hiroshima - Miyajima
Fall Color Miyajima

Photo By: Ron Rosenstock

Photo Location: Japan

After breakfast at the hotel your guide will assist you with traveling via bullet train (approximately 4 hours) to Hiroshima, where you will then transfer to a local train for another 20 minutes, and a ferry going to Miyajima Island. The tides will predict the timing of your photography shoots, as we hope to capture the Itsukushima Shrine at high and low tide during our overnight stay. This shrine is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as a National Treasure of the Japanese government. Other photography locations include Senjokaku and Daisho-in Temple, with views of the surrounding islands. Overnight at a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese Inn. Overnight Miyajima Island (B, D)

November 12-14: Hiroshima - Kyoto
Jojakko Ji Kyoto

Photo By: Ron Rosenstock

Photo Location: Japan

Momijidani Park is one of the most famous maple tree valley parks in Japan. The park is located at the foot of Mt. Misen, Miyajima. You will have a photography walk there this morning before returning to Hiroshima via the ferry and train after lunch. Then board another bullet train to Kyoto, approximately 2 hours, where your hotel is walking distance from the station.

The next two days will be filled with photographing amidst the fall foliage of Kyoto, and capturing the Japanese culture and traditions. The Gion district is a collection of streets defined by old wooden buildings, teahouses, and restaurants. It’s also known as the Geisha district, you may catch a glimpse of geisha in full dress and white makeup.

North of Kyoto is the quaint village of Ohara, which houses the Sanzen-in Temple, one of the finest in all of Kyoto. Explore the tree-lined paths, seeking out the natural colors, wooden walkways that lead you to gardens and Buddhist temples. Jojakkukoji in the Arashiyama district is located in a serene forest with views of the ever-changing maple trees. Another photographic stop in the Arashiyama district includes a Bamboo Grove, standing amid these soaring stalks of bamboo is like being in another world. Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) is a Zen Buddhist Temple, sits above a lovely pond, offering beautiful reflections. Although this maybe one of the most crowded photo ops, thanks to traffic flow the crowds do not interfere with photographing this amazing structure. Overnight Kyoto (B each day)


November 15: Mount Koya - Kyoto
Mt Koyasan Kongobuji Temple Zen Garden

Photo By: Ron Rosenstock

Photo Location: Japan

Today will be a long day outside the city of Kyoto, when you will transfer via private bus to Mount Koya, or Koya-san. Home to over 100 temples, Koya-san has been the center of Shingon Buddhism, an important Buddhist sect for over twelve hundred years. The 2½-hour journey is one of the highlights of the visit. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is comprised of various temples, Kongobu-ji Chief Temple, Danjo Garan, and Daito Pagoda. It is also home to Japan’s largest rock garden, and Okunoin, Japan’s largest cemetery. The 1½-mile walk to the mausoleum takes you past 200,000 tombstones, belonging to feudal lords, and prominent monks. Overnight Kyoto (B)

November 16-17: Kyoto
Imperial Palace Kyoto

Photo By: Ron Rosenstock

Photo Location: Japan

Continue your exploration of Kyoto with your local guide where you will photograph the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, and if the weather cooperates you can photograph the reflections of beautiful bridges on the Palace grounds. Easy walking distance from the hotel is the Kyoto Train Station and Kyoto Tower, which can provide nice evening shoots with the city lights and reflections. You will have some free time your last day in Kyoto if you would like to return to some of your favorite locations, or do some shopping.  Overnight Kyoto (B both days)

November 18: Kyoto - Home

Check out of the hotel is at 10AM, again there are options available for return transportation to your airport of choice which can be an hour away. Either private transfer, public bus or direct fast speed train. Fees will be provided upon enrollment. Departure will be from KIX or ITM airports. (B)


Photo Leader

Ron Rosenstock
read more
Ron Rosenstock

Ron started leading photo tours in 1967. In those years he has led hundreds of tours to many destinations worldwide. Ron has retired from Clark University after teaching photography there for thirty years. He has published five books of his exquisite black and white photographs: The Light of Ireland, Hymn to the Earth, Chiostro (Cloister), Inspirations, Photographs of Iceland, and his color book Journeys. Ron’s work has been featured in over one hundred exhibitions, both in the U.S. and abroad, and his photographs are to be found in the permanent collections of the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.  Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, MA, and the International Center of Photography in New York City.

Ron is happy to share his vision and insights to all who travel with him. Although he now only photographs with a digital camera, his philosophy of teaching hasn't changed since the early large format film days. He firmly believes that the photograph comes from within, not from without. Meaning you can't buy creativity, however, you have to learn to recognize that creative spirit within. Ron teaches exercises that will help that creative spirit come to the surface. These may consist of: 1) Entry ways to seeing, 2) photographing in the NOW, 3) practical aspects of printing, exhibiting and getting your work out there. During the photo tour he will teach and use a digital projector several evenings. Most people who travel with Ron have a basic understanding of how the camera works, and others who know everything about the camera. He doesn't focus on technical knowledge, rather places the emphasis on a more Zen approach. Ron believes it isn't necessary to know all the latest digital technique, but it is necessary to know yourself.
Please feel free to view Ron's website and e-mail regarding any questions.

Why do you LOVE nature photography?   By Ron Rosenstock

Let me use some of the same words, Nature photography is LOVE!  Since the very beginning of our species starting to walk upright, we have been recreating nature in various art forms, from cave paintings to digital photography. Technology has changed, but what is most important, hasn’t. The world’s greatest artists have received their inspiration from nature. We are as much a part of nature as nature is a part of us.  For those of us that take the time to smell the flowers, it’s so much more.  Poets but their feelings into words, painters paint and we photograph.  Each image we make is showing us on a deeper level, who we really are. “Listen, my heart, to the whispering of the world.  That is how it makes love to you” Tagore

What is your overall rating of the trip? 10 out of 10. Working with Ron, great leader and teacher. The accommodations were also a 10, a relaxing environment with local great owners. The meeting room was great for our group. Great photo shoot locations. Instruction and the opportunity to talk about photography, all lead by Ron.

David Pinkham

Pricing and Details

US Dollars based upon minimum of 9 paying participants. There is a small group surcharge of $500 if 6-8 paying participants. All our program prices are based on double occupancy unless noted in exceptions.

Single rooms are subject to availability. We try to accommodate travelers who request single accommodations, as well as travelers who are looking for a roommate. If a single room is requested, or if we are unable to find a suitable roommate, you will be required to pay the supplement.


One of my favorite places on our trip was our overnight to Miyajima Island. For many reasons, but one of the main points was it was our first introduction to the iconic Japanese Maples in their full color. And what a sight it was. Local guide was terrific, enjoyed her knowledge and sense of humor. She did her upmost to make sure we saw Japan and its culture.

J. Billman

Your talk on photography and the spirituality of photography was a great revelation for me as I have always felt this way about it myself. Your talk was the affirmation I had been searching for. It was great beyond words to be participating with a group of Artists who were as passionate as I about photography and image making.

M. McLaughlin

Additional Notes

What To Expect & Health and Fitness
This tour is designed to be a photo tour, and, as such, we must be flexible in our scheduling. Much of what we do, and when we do it, will depend upon weather and light. Scheduling also takes in to account photographing around the crowds. Therefore there will be some early mornings, and evening photo shoots, which will also take advantage of the light. Depending on the location there may be opportunity to have a rest at the hotel during the afternoon.

We have found due to traffic patterns and multiple public transportation systems it is much easier and faster to move around the cities each day via local bus and train. Taxi’s will also be used where necessary. There will be a great deal of walking each day (2-3 miles per day) not only at photo locations but getting to and from transport to the sites. Several stations and photo ops it will be necessary to climb stairs. Be sure to have comfortable walking shoes.

The hotels have been chosen for your comfort as well as their proximity to prime photographic locations and public transportation. There is one evening included, which is of traditional Japanese style. Therefore you will need to have lower expectations regarding bed comfort, and higher noise level between rooms and public areas. Please be respectful of others in these situations and try to enjoy the Japanese experience.

There may also be some optional activities that may present themselves during the course of our trip which are not included in the itinerary. The activities will be available at your discretion, for a small charge, and dependent upon the cooperation of the weather.

Terms and Conditions

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to all tours.


Contact Strabo Tours if you would like rates on International Airfare. Please note on your trip application form if you would like us to assist you with your airfare needs, a charge is added for this service. If making your own arrangements, it is important to discuss flight times with Strabo Tours before booking any airline tickets. This will avoid you having to pay airline cancellation penalties. Please contact Strabo Tours for destination airfare estimates, specific flight time arrivals, and departures.

The land cost includes:
  • Group transportation for tour events in the tour van.
  • Accommodations based on two people sharing a room, singles are assigned on a first come, first served basis.
  • Services of driver, English speaking cultural guide (if applicable) and photographic leader, during the tour.
  • Meals as listed in itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
  • Park entrance fees, day tours and excursions as shown in the itinerary.
  • Extensive pre-departure information and services.
The land cost does not include:

Domestic or International air fare; other airfare if noted in exceptions; air fare tax; airport departure tax; airport transfers; additional transfers or accommodations that may be required by those not traveling with the group; excess baggage charges; meals not included in itinerary; activities taken on your own; passport/visa expenses; personal medical or travel insurance; any expenses of a personal nature, such as room service, laundry, beverages not included with meals, medical expenses, photographic equipment, any activities not specified in tour itinerary or listed as optional, or any items not listed in what is included; fuel surcharges; exchange rate surcharges; upon the completion of your trip, modest gratuities to the local guides and the drivers are customary; tips for meals not included in itinerary.

Fitness and Health

The majority of trips are not strenuous (see exceptions below for particular destinations) and anyone who is reasonably fit should be able to take part in most of the activities. You may experience general fatigue due to the long flights and the change in time zones. You will need to be sufficiently agile to climb in and out of the tour van and be able to carry and manage your own equipment. We will frequently hike trails ranging from easy to moderate. Some hotels do not have elevators or air conditioners.

If you have any special needs or any physical condition that you feel might prevent you from fully participating, please contact Strabo Tours with your concerns (607-756-8676).

You should also be aware that medical services or facilities might not be readily available during all or part of your trip. This could include emergency medical care, presence of physicians, or adequate medication.


The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

The following destinations require more physical activity. Bhutan, China, Patagonia, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Domestic tours. On the African Safari you will spend many hours in a vehicle on game drives, land travel will sometimes be over very bumpy and dusty roads. Galapagos Cruise accommodations are in upper and lower berths (bunk beds) only.

Deposits, Cancellations AND Refunds

A deposit of $750 ($500 on domestic tours) per person is required. Specific tours may require an additional deposit due to accommodation bookings or transportation requirements. If applicable these will be noted on your invoice. Payment in full is required when bookings are made less than 120 days before the departure date. Space is subject to cancellation by Strabo if payment is not received when due.

If a passenger wishes to cancel they must send notification in writing to: Strabo International Tour, Co., P.O. Box 580, Dryden, NY 13053; fax 208-545-4119. At the time we receive your notification, the following per person charges apply:

  • 91 days or more before departure: $300 cancellation fee ($150 fee on domestic tours), plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation.
  • 61-90 days before departure: $500 ($250 on domestic tours) minimum cancellation fee, plus Strabo’ costs, as well as fees that are charged by the suppliers providing the services included in your tour, and/or the airlines providing the air transportation. Fees may range from 25% to 100% of tour costs.
  • 60 days or less before departure or anytime after departure: NO REFUND.

Refunds for services that are voluntarily not used by you cannot be made.


Each participant must be covered by medical insurance that is valid overseas.

We strongly urge you to evaluate your risk and to take out insurance on your trip. It is vital for you to realize that if you experience a delay or find it necessary to cancel or cut short your trip for any reason, you will lose part or the entire sum you’ve invested in it (see the section “Deposits, Cancellations and Refunds” in the trip brochure).

Travel insurance helps to minimize the risk of monetary losses you would incur in the event of a delay of your departure due to weather, airline strike, missed connection, etc., your inability to travel for reasons such as illness, injury, unforeseen financial complications and other personal circumstances, or if you were required to cut your trip short for medical or any other reasons.

There are restrictions and limitations on any insurance program. For this reason, please read carefully the enclosed pamphlet, which outlines their program of trip cancellation, baggage, and medical insurance. Trained agents are available to answer your questions, so don’t hesitate to call the toll free number in their brochure. It is to your advantage to apply for insurance at the earliest possible time, so don’t delay in making a decision.

Subject to Change

Itineraries have been carefully constructed to assure participants the best each destination has to offer; however, should events arise that are beyond our control, activities and hotel arrangements are subject to change without notice. The itineraries summarize typical areas you will explore. Since there is no possible way to visit all of them, your guides will plan each day considering the interests of the group and the weather at hand. Be assured that we will make substitutions that are as similar in quality and interest as possible.

Photo Release

Strabo International Tour Company, Inc. reserves the right and permission to use photographs of individuals on tour for use in promotional and publicity purposes. We also reserve the right to use clients photographs for promotional and publicity purposes, when submitted to Strabo International Tour Company, Inc.

loading icon