Mythic, mysterious, and magical Japan unfolds during Keith Carter’s very first trip to Japan—a journey to find paradise in all things great and small in the Orient.
Traditional Japanese culture is rooted in finding poetry in the visible darkness. Centuries-old traditions, Zen gardens, onsen hot springs, pagodas, sake and sushi, bamboo groves, seaside villages, geisha and sensei, tea ceremonies, tranquil temples and shrines, and a land of respectful and polite people await your discoveries.The sheen of antiquity reveals depth and richness in a refined and dignified life even in contemporary Japan.
Join Keith and our expert local guide to experience and photograph iconic as well as hidden Japan. Our itinerary gradually reveals the rich variety of Japan as you visit the well known and the little seen parts of Tokyo, Tomonoura, and Kyoto.
We begin our adventure in the endless city of Tokyo as we look beyond the neon frenzy and skyscraping architectural marvels to seek the sacred and transcendent. From our comfortable hotel, we explore the city with carefully timed morning visits at first light and afternoon excursions to discover the imposing city’s archetypal roots. We enter a world of peace and tranquility found in the shrines and temples of Tokyo as well as explore markets and wind through backstreets and alleyways looking for a different side of the pulsating metropolis.
After two full days in the bright lights of Tokyo we board a bullet train for a delightful visit to the small fishing village of Tomomoura at the tip of the Numakuma Peninsula. Its half-moon bay overlooking the islands of Sensui-jima and Benten-jima has inspiring poets and artists for centuries. The labyrinth of narrow streets, old temples and winding alleys lined with traditional wooden buildings, where every other building is a designated national asset, transport us back to another era. Wherever you look in the port area, you’ll see fish and octopi hanging on racks to dry in the sun. We stay two nights at an elegant Japanese ryokan offering spectacular views of the coastline and islands, enjoy eating traditional Japanese cuisine, and unwind with a long soak in a private hotspring. In these peaceful surroundings, we edit our images from Tokyo for the first image review with Keith.
Recharged and ready for new adventures, we travel to Kyoto, the “City of Peace and Tranquility,” for our three-night stay. Considered by many to be the spiritual center of Japan and one of the world's most culturally rich cities, Kyoto is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, more than 1,600 Buddhist Temples, and over 400 Shinto shrines. In parts of Kyoto, we find Japan as it was centuries ago. This is the city where many of things we think of as authentically Japanese were born or perfected – the court culture, kimonos, tea ceremonies, geishas, the fastidious attention to detail, haiku-writing priests, the artistry of living a humble life, samurai, and the extraordinary cuisine.
Kyoto is a city that lends itself to walking, and from our centrally-located hotel we venture out every day to experience traditional “old Japan” in Kyoto. Dating back to Imperial times, Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka streets are a pair of gently sloping lanes from Kiyomizu-dera Temple that are paved with flagstone and crowded with traditional wooden storefronts, tea houses, and restaurants.
Four-hundred-year-old Nishiki market is one of the most picturesque food bazaars in Japan. Within the six-block covered arcade, shopkeepers entice local residents and chefs with beautifully presented produce in impeccably maintained stalls. The Gion district was originally developed to accommodate the needs of travelers and visitors to the Yasaka Shrine. It eventually evolved to become one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in all of Japan.
A highlight of our time in the imperial city is an afternoon and early evening spent in a geisha’s life. The geisha in Kyoto do not refer to themselves as geisha; instead, they use the local term geiko. While the term geisha means "artist" or "person of the arts", the more direct term geiko means essentially "a woman of art." We meet, share tea, and discuss her training and present day life. We make portraits of her in this informal setting, then meet again as night falls to photograph her in full splendor as she moves through the lantern-lite back streets of Gion.
As our time in Japan nears its close, we edit our photographs for a final image review with Keith and celebrate our time together and our many experiences in Japan with a festive, final group dinner.
Japan is at once modern and ancient, sacred and profane, resounding and silent, transparent and circuitous.To travel to exotic Japan with Keith Carter is a once in a lifetime trip, that only happen once.Join him on the journey.