Leica Photo Adventure: Japan | November 7-17, 2023

$14,795 ($2,995 Deposit)

Workshop at a Glance

  Physical Activity
  Photographic Intensity
  Classroom Instruction
  Climate/Weather Severity
  Food and Accommodations
  Cultural Immersion
  Good for Non-photographers

  • Join Leica Store Miami for a photographic and cultural adventure in Japan! Japan is a land of breathtaking contrasts, home to one of the most forward-thinking and simultaneously traditional cultures on Earth. On this once-in-a-lifetime photography adventure, we'll experience a variety of Japan's most unique destinations, with immersive stays in the ultra-modern Tokyo metropolis, legendary Mt. Fuji, the ancient capital Kyoto, and a traditional Japanese ryokan in the lush Japanese countryside.

    We’ll be visiting Japan during its most colorful season, Autumn. At this time of year, the Japanese maple tree, Momiji, is in full bloom making for truly amazing photographs.

    This tour is suitable for all levels of experience and ability. While other cameras are certainly allowed, the focus is on Leica camera systems and learning how to use them to their full potential. Current owners as well as those wanting to try Leica gear out for a week of real shooting are encouraged to attend. We’ll share our favorite tips and tricks so you can get the most out of this exceptional gear.

    This trip will be led by Kyoto-based guide and translator Sara Aiko who specializes in the regions that we'll be visiting. She will be with us every step of the way to ensure that we have an amazing experience. Leica experts David Farkas and Peter Dooling from Leica Store Miami will be on hand to give assistance and advice as you photograph this beautiful country.

    Flying to and from Japan

    This trip will begin in Tokyo and end in Kyoto. Tokyo has two international airports, Haneda and Narita, but we recommend flying into and out of Haneda International Airport (HND) as it's much closer to Tokyo. On the final day of the trip, we'll take a bullet train back to Tokyo and private transportation will meet us at the train station to take us to the airport. Depending on your travel plans, you can also depart out of Osaka Itami (ITM) and Osaka Kansai (KIX). For those who prefer to fly out of Narita International Airport (NRT), please keep in mind that it can be about a 1.5 hour drive from Tokyo.

    Luggage / Packing Recommendation
    Packing lightly is a useful skill for travel to any country, but in the case of Japan it is especially worth noting. Navigating Japan is much easier when you have a small, easily portable bag or suitcase. We recommend a small rolling suitcase (airplane carry-on size) and a backpack or duffel.

    Most travelers in Japan rely heavily on Japan’s comprehensive and easy-to-use railway networks, but unfortunately Japanese trains and train stations do not cater especially well to travelers with a lot of luggage. Japanese train stations are often quite crowded, and to make matters worse they often don’t have as many elevators or escalators as you might wish.

    Our hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto offer laundry service, so keep that in mind if you do decide to pack lightly.

    If you're more of a "bring everything" person, you will be able to utilize Japan's efficient luggage forwarding service, but make sure to have a large enough backpack/duffel to fit a few days of clothes. *Anyone in our group will be able to take advantage of this service, even if you decide to only bring small luggage.

  • Dates:

    Tuesday, November 7 - Friday, November 17, 2023


    $14,795 - Double occupancy lodging (Single room available for $1500)


    Limited to 8 attendees

    Included in the cost of the trip:

    • Double occupancy lodging in 4-star hotels (Single room available for $1500)
    • All meals (except one lunch and one dinner)
    • Airport transfers
    • First class bullet train transportation
    • All other ground transportation including motor coaches and subway cards
    • Luggage forwarding service (*if you choose it)
    • All admissions to museums, parks and tours
    • Private shooting in ceramics studio
    • Private shooting with Buddhist monk
    • Private shooting with a Maiko (apprentice Geisha)
    • Private shooting with traditional ink maker
    • Professional local guide and translator
    • Gratuities for guide
    • In-the-field photography instruction
    • Adobe Lightroom post processing instruction 
    • 1-on-1 critique/review sessions
    • Use of loaner Leica SL, Q and M equipment (*limited availability)

    Not included in the cost of the trip:

    • Airfare
    • Medical/Travel/Gear insurance
    • One lunch in Izu and one dinner in Kyoto as noted in itinerary
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Snacks
    • Visas (if applicable; free for US citizens)

    Signing Up

    To sign up for this photo adventure, checkout here on our website, email us (workshops@leicastoremiami.com) or call 305-921-4433. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. A $2,995 deposit, along with the single room supplement should you choose it, is required to hold your spot. The balance will be due on September 27, 2023.

    We look forward to seeing you in Japan!

  • Itinerary

    November 7-10, 2023: Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo
    Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo is an excellent and highly convenient hotel in the heart of the metropolis. We'll be just steps from the Ginza neighborhood’s countless dining establishments and legendary department stores (home to dazzling depachika food halls), and have easy access to all of central Tokyo and beyond.


    Tuesday, November 7th -
    Arrival, Informal happy hour, Introductions

    Upon arrival into Haneda International Airport (HND), you'll be met by a private car and taken to the Hyatt Centric Ginza in the heart of Tokyo. Although the official itinerary begins the following morning, we'll have an informal happy hour in the bar of the Hyatt so we can chat about the trip and get to know one another.*If you wish to arrive in Tokyo prior to the 7th and stay at the Hyatt Centric Ginza, our operator can arrange that on your behalf so just let us know.

    Hotel: Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo

    Wednesday, November 8th - Meiji Shrine, Harajuku, Shibuya

    Ohayou gozaimasu (good morning)! After breakfast, we'll gather in the lobby of our hotel at 8:00am and set off to explore Tokyo.

    Our time in Japan begins in the endlessly fascinating modern capital. Over the next couple of days, we'll be experiencing a carefully curated selection of important highlights and hidden gems, led by our expert guide Sara Aiko. To complement the city's ultramodern elements, we'll also be focusing on quiet, charming districts where we'll encounter fewer tourists and  character to spare.

    While in Tokyo, we'll be navigating the city primarily on foot and via Tokyo's clean and efficient rail network. For convenience, each guest will receive a local transport card (known as an IC card) pre-filled with 5,000 JPY. Along with enabling seamless travels, IC cards can also be used at many of Japan's ubiquitous vending machines and colorful conbini (convenience stores).

    This morning, we'll travel by rail to the expansive grounds of Meiji Jingu Shrine, one of the city's most spacious and peaceful green spaces. From the imposing wooden torii gate marking the entrance to Meiji Jingu, it is about a 15-minute walk to the shrine itself. This is one of Tokyo's prettiest spots, and a relaxing way to begin our time in the city.

    From Meiji Jingu, we'll walk into the neighboring Harajuku  neighborhood, where teens are known for expressing themselves through creative, flamboyant style. Passing through Harajuku we'll arrive in the upscale Omotesando and Aoyama neighborhoods, where we'll find a delightful mix of quiet side streets complemented by the most impressive and eye-catching modern architecture in the city. After lunch, we'll  continue to nearby Shibuya, home to Tokyo's famous "scramble" crossing, where huge numbers of pedestrians cross day and night. You'll have time to capture this iconic scene and then we'll have lunch. Next, we'll proceed to one of the most laid-back neighborhoods in all of Tokyo, Naka-Meguro. As we take a break from the pace of the city, and stroll along the area's picturesque tree-lined canal, you may forget we're in one of the world's largest metropolises.

    Throughout the trip, Leica Store Miami hosts and our guide will ensure there is plenty of time for unhurried photography, and to break up our explorations we'll enjoy a variety of excellent, casual lunches, along with optional tea and coffee breaks when appropriate.

    Our tour will conclude at 3:30 pm and we'll head back to the hotel by rail for downtime before dinner. If you wish to keep exploring on your own, our guide Sara will be happy to help point you in the right direction.

    This evening we'll gather in the lobby at 5:45 pm and head out to a fantastic restaurant near the hotel for an izakaya experience. An izakaya is a lively Japanese restaurant that offers a variety of Japanese dishes (sometimes referred to as "Japanese tapas") complemented by sake in a spirited environment. Eating and drinking at an izakaya is an unforgettable experience, with the chance to sample various delicious dishes and mingle with locals in a relaxed atmosphere.

    After dinner, we'll have an optional night shoot Ginza and Shimbashi/Yurakucho. If you're not up for that, you can head back to the hotel or stay out explore the neighborhood. Ginza is one of the city's premier nightlife centers, and our guide can help point you in the right direction whether you're seeking whisky, cocktails, sake, or karaoke.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (plus one welcome drink)
    Hotel: Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo

    Thursday, November 9th -
    Tsukiji Market, Hamarikju Garden, Yanaka

    Enjoy breakfast at the hotel at your leisure. At 9:00 am, we'll gather in the lobby and head out to explore Tsukiji, where we'll have the chance to photograph the gritty and historic Tsukiji Outer Market. While wholesale operations have relocated to out-of-theway Toyosu, Tsukiji's atmospheric lanes and generations-old shops remain an essential stop.

    After lunch, we'll head by rail to Yanaka, one of Tokyo's best-preserved historical districts. The area was mostly spared during the Second World War, and today boasts old-fashioned charm along with contemporary creativity. As we wander through Yanaka's quiet streets, we'll encounter beautiful old buildings, small neighborhood shrines and temples, quaint mom-and-pop shops, and a smattering of tiny cafes and galleries.

    Our tour will conclude here at 4:30 pm. For those who would like to keep exploring, our guide will help point the way depending on where you'd like to go. The rest of us will return to our hotel by rail for some downtime before dinner.

    This evening at 5:45 pm we'll meet in the lobby and head out to a casual dinner in Ginza. After dinner, we'll have an optional night shoot in Shinjuku and Shibuya.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    Hotel: Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo

    Friday, November 10th - Mount Fuji

    You'll never run out of things to see and do in Tokyo, but the city also serves as an ideal jumping-off point for the one-and-only Mount Fuji.

    Our private transport will pick us up from the hotel at 11:00 am as we leave the city bound for the Mount Fuji area (travel time is approximately 2 hours). We'll have lunch near Lake Kawaguchi and then visit a selection of vantage points designed to give us the best possible chance of getting great shots of this legendary mountain. Please keep in mind that views of Mount Fuji cannot be guaranteed, and Fujisan photography is truly weather-dependent. It is not uncommon for the mountain to be fully obscured by cloud cover, though conditions in fall are typically good on the whole relative to spring and summer.

    At about 3:00 pm, we'll check-in to our hotel and then explore the Kawaguchiko Momiji Corridor on foot. After sunset, we'll head back to the hotel for dinner.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    Hotel: Kumonoue Hotel Kawaguchiko


    November 11-13, 2023: Ryokan Hanafubuki
    Set among the trees of a woodland grove, and a short hike from the stunning coastline, Hanafubuki is renowned for its warm service and variety of delightful private onsen (hot spring) baths. In addition to relaxing in your traditional Japanese-style room, Hanafubuki offers guests the unique chance to sample several soothing onsen, some open-air, all on a private basis. In the evening, enjoy kaiseki in a Japanese-style room overlooking the lantern-lit trees and pathways of the ryokan.

    Saturday, November 11th -
    Sunrise Chureito Pagoda and Journey to Izu Peninsula
    We'll have the early morning sunrise shoot at Chureito Pagoda, departing at 5:45 am. After a morning of amazing photography, we'll head back to the hotel for breakfast and then depart to the Izu Peninsula at 9:30 am. On the way, we'll stop at the Ichiku Kubota Museum, Mt. Omuro and Lake Ippeki.

    At about 3:00 pm we'll arrive into lush Izu. On arrival, it's a pleasant walk from the rural station to our traditional ryokan. We'll arrive in good time to settle into our lovely surroundings, relax in our Japanese-style rooms, soak in the healing onsen (hot springs), and tonight enjoy an incredible kaiseki dinner featuring local and seasonal ingredients.

    Ryokan: Hanafubuki

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    Sunday, November 12th - Izu Peninsula, Jogasaki Coast

    In between our explorations of the modern and ancient capitals, we'll have a full day to enjoy the atmosphere and beauty of rural Japan. A day at a traditional ryokan begins with an early-morning soak in one of the property's private onsen (optional of course). Then it's time for a splendid and slow-paced Japanese breakfast, an experience in and of itself.

    Following a leisurely morning, we'll gather in the lobby and embark on a walk to the nearby Jogasaki Coast. One of the most beautiful stretches of the Izu Peninsula's coastline, the rugged Jogasaki Coast is renowned for its picturesque cliffs and sweeping ocean views. After a chance to take photographs together, some can continue along the scenic coastal path, while others may choose to walk back to the ryokan.

    Before dinner this evening we'll have the remainder of the day free. A quintessential part of the ryokan experience is slowing down, and we'll have time today to decompress in our rural, Japanese-style surroundings.

    Lunch today is free and there are plenty of options near the ryokan and around the nearby Izu-Kogen Station. However, you may want to eat light as we'll be enjoying another magnificent multi-course dinner this evening!

    Meals Included: Breakfast and Dinner
    Ryokan: Hanafubuki


    November 13-17, 2022: Ace Hotel Kyoto
    Our base in the ancient capital will be the stylish Ace Hotel Kyoto. Boasting the collaboration of Japanese architecture legend Kengo Kuma, the attractive and well-located Ace Hotel Kyoto features lovely design throughout its accommodations, common areas, and dining spaces.

    Monday, November 13th - Journey to Kyoto

    We'll have the early morning to enjoy one last traditional breakfast before beginning our journey to Kyoto. At 10:00 am we'll make our way back to the nearby station on foot to catch our first train of the day, an express bound for Atami Station. At Atami, we'll have the chance to pick up bentos before boarding our shinkansen (bullet train) headed west to Kyoto. On arrival at the bustling Kyoto Station, we'll hop in taxis to our Kyoto hotel. After some time to settle in, we'll gather at 4:00 pm for a brief introduction to Kyoto en route to dinner.

    Kyoto is one of the most culturally rich cities on Earth, and what many travelers envision when picturing Japan. While present day Kyoto is a large, modern city of over a million people, the ancient capital retains a wealth of beautifully preserved historical districts, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and irresistibly charming backstreets where we will stumble upon stunning shrines and temples, impeccable gardens, and generations-old shops and restaurants.

    Our walk from the hotel to dinner will take us through the heart of central Kyoto, giving us our first taste of the charms of the ancient capital. For dinner this evening we'll dine at a casual, sophisticated restaurant specializing in seasonal Kyoto cuisine.

    After dinner, continue exploring Kyoto by night or head back to the hotel to relax. Though the nightlife in Kyoto is noticeably quieter than in Tokyo, the city does have some excellent cocktail and other bars, and our guide can help provide recommendations.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    Hotel: Ace Hotel Kyoto

    Tuesday, November 14th - Higashiyama, Craftsperson Visit, Gion

    After an early morning at leisure, we'll meet at 8:00 am to explore Kyoto by day. We'll begin in the Higashiyama district, east of the Kamogawa River. The Higashiyama is one of Kyoto's most attractive and well-preserved historical districts, and home to a wealth of major sites (including Ninenzaka, Yasaka Pagoda, and Kennin-ji) along with lesser-known gems. Our immersive walk through the Higashiyama will introduce us to a selection of beautiful spots, all connected by picturesque streets and lanes. After lunch, we'll have the unique opportunity to enjoy a behind-the-scenes visit with the master craftspeople at Tokinoha Ceramic Studio. We'll have the opportunity to photograph these amazing artists at work in their private workshop.

    Finally, we'll proceed to the historic Gion, Kyoto's best-known hanamachi (geisha district). We've arranged a private photo shoot with two Maiko, or Geisha in training. After the shoot, our guide will teach us about the history and reality of geisha (often highly misunderstood) as we stroll together through Gion's picture-perfect streets.

    Our tour will conclude here at 6:00 pm, and following an active day we'll head out to dinner. For those who would like to keep exploring, our guide will help point the way depending on where you'd like to go (Gion can be quite magical in the evening), and we'll also be happy to provide dinner recommendations if you want to explore on your own.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    Hotel: Ace Hotel Kyoto

    Wednesday, November 15th - Fushimi Inari, Arashiyama

    This morning we'll meet at 8:30 am and head to Fushimi, just south of Kyoto proper. Fushimi is best known for Fushimi Inari Taisha, perhaps the most photographed site in all of Japan. While the lower sections of the shrine are typically packed with tourists, the further you walk up the mountain the more the crowds thin. Regardless of your willingness or ability to ascend, our guide and photographer will do their best to ensure all guests have a chance to gain a unique perspective on this iconic shrine. From Fushimi Inari, we'll head to Komyo-in temple for a bento lunch and a private photo shoot with a Buddhist monk.

    Following our time here, we'll head to Arashiyama, on the western outskirts of Kyoto, to explore the town, the river walk and the magical bamboo forest. Arashiyama has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. 

    Our day will conclude at about 5:00 pm, and we'll have the remainder of the afternoon and evening completely at leisure. This is the perfect chance to see, do, or eat anything remaining on your personal wish list, as tomorrow we'll be leaving Kyoto for a day trip.

    Meals Included: Breakfast and Lunch
    Hotel: Ace Hotel Kyoto

    Thursday, November 16th - Day Trip: Nara

    We'll never run out of things to do in Kyoto, but today we'll be going on a day trip. After breakfast at the hotel, we'll be picked up at 9:00 am by our private transport for the hour drive to the historic city of Nara. Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 794 as the seat of the Emperor before the capital was moved to Kyoto. From the architecture of its preserved neighborhoods to its wealth of traditional arts, and from its crafts and festivals to the splendor of its eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, this historical and cultural importance is evident throughout the city.

    Nara is home to eight temples, shrines, and ruins including the amazing Tōdai-ji temple. Daibutsu, Tōdai-ji's 15m-high bronze Buddha, is displayed in a large wooden hall. On the park's east side is the Shinto shrine Kasuga Taisha, which dates to 768 A.D. and has more than 3,000 lanterns.

    Nara’s appeal doesn’t just lie in its past, however. These days the city is a perfect blend of modernity and tradition, with Edo-era townhouses transformed into art galleries, coffee shops, and craft-beer bars.
    And of course, there are plenty of deer. Images of these adorable residents can be found all over the city, immortalized in the form of Shikamaro-kun, Nara’s official cervine mascot. In Shinto mythology, deer are considered to be messengers of the gods, and as such, Nara’s deer have even been designated a national treasure.

    At about 4:00 pm we'll begin the drive back to Kyoto to arrive at our hotel by around 5:00 pm, giving us a chance to freshen up before dinner. After meeting in the lobby at 6:30 pm, we'll head out together to enjoy a celebratory farewell dinner at one of our guide's favorite restaurants in Kyoto. Kanpai!

    Meals Included:
    Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    Hotel: Ace Hotel Kyoto

    Friday, November 17th - Departure Day

    Our photographic adventures conclude today. For those whose schedules permit, we'll enjoy a final breakfast together at the hotel and say our farewells.

    If you're not planning to extend your stay in Japan and wish to fly out on the 17th, we'll take a bullet train back to Tokyo and private transportation will meet us at the train station to take us to the airport. As stated in the description section, we recommend flying into and out of Haneda International Airport (HND) as it's much closer to Tokyo. For those who prefer to fly out of Narita International Airport (NRT), please keep in mind that it can be about a 1.5 hour drive from Tokyo.

    Depending on your travel plans, you can also depart out of Osaka Itami (ITM) and Osaka Kansai (KIX), both of which are easily accessible from Kyoto by rail, taxi, or private vehicle.

    If you plan to book a round-trip flight in and out of Tokyo and depart on the 17th, please make sure your international departure from Tokyo is in the evening (or late afternoon at the earliest). From Kyoto, it's about two hours back to central Tokyo via shinkansen (not including the additional time needed to get to your departure airport).

  • Payment

    A $2,995 deposit, along with the single room supplement if you choose it, is due at the time of registration. The balance will be due on September 27, 2023. 

    Withdrawal and Refund Policy

    Enrollment is limited to 8 participants, and once you sign up, we are counting on your attendance. If you need to withdraw from this workshop, please notify us in writing (email is acceptable) as soon as possible. This is our refund policy:

    If you cancel and we find someone to fill your seat, we will refund you the full amount you have paid towards the tuition, minus a $250 service charge. If you cancel and we cannot find someone to fill your seat, then you will be refunded according to the following schedule:

    At least 90 days before the start of the workshop: Full refund minus $250 service fee.
    Between 89 and 60 days before the start of the workshop: 75% refund
    Between 59 and 45 days before the start of the workshop: 50% refund
    Less than 45 days from the start of the workshop: No refund

    Course Cancellation and Other Terms
    Leica Store Miami reserves the right to cancel a reservation if full payment has not been received by 90 days prior to the start of the workshop.
    In the event that this workshop must be canceled due to inadequate enrollment, all fees and deposits will be refunded in full or may be transferred to another workshop within 24 months.
    In the unlikely event of illness, accident or injury to one of the instructors, Leica Store Miami reserves the right to replace that instructor with a comparable instructor.

    Covid-19 Protocols

    Our main priority during our workshops is customer safety. To that end, we will follow all CDC and NIH guidelines for Covid-19 safety during our trips. While there are no specific testing requirements on our trips, we ask that each participant take the necessary precautions leading up to the trip to keep the group safe.

    Medical Insurance (required)

    Emergency medical insurance through a provider like Allianz or similar is required to participate in any of Leica Store Miami's international workshop.

    Travel Insurance (STRONGLY recommended)

    Leica Store Miami is not responsible for cancellations due to medical or personal emergencies so we highly recommend purchasing travel Insurance. Companies like Travelex and Allianz Global Assistance are reputable but you can choose any vendor you like. Just make sure that they have an A+ rating from the BBB. Leica Store Miami is not responsible for reimbursement of non-refundable airline tickets in the event of a workshop cancellation.

    Camera Gear Insurance (STRONGLY recommended)

    We advise all of our workshop attendees to insure their camera gear against damage, theft, loss, etc. If your gear is not already insured, check with your home owner's insurance to see if they offer coverage. There are several photo specific insurance policies out there as well.

    Single Room Policy
    If you sign-up for double occupancy room sharing and there are no other attendees to pair you with, you will be responsible for paying the single room supplement.

    If for any reason you wish to transfer your deposit or workshop fee, please notify us by email. You must register and complete a new workshop within 24 months of the withdrawal. We reserve the right to accept or deny any transfer.

    There are no exceptions to our Cancellation and Transfer Policy.

Click here to email us any questions about this workshop

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