Spirit of Samurai

12 days

Got your own group together? Choose dates to suit you


Max group size: 12 people

Take a very special photography journey into Japan’s northern mountains where samurai legend permeates the culture. Guided by professional photographer Everett Kennedy Brown, we’ll meet mountain priests, Japan’s last falconer and the descendants of samurai in their ancestors’ attire. Special access inside the Fukushima nuclear exclusion zone can also be arranged; a humbling slice of recent history.

Day 01: Tokyo

Welcome to Japan

Western-style hotel, moderate

Welcome to Tokyo. Fly into Narita or Haneda Airport and transfer to the city centre hotel. Tonight you’ll meet your hosts, photographer Everett Kennedy Brown and kimono model Junko Okimoto. Discuss your photography goals for the trip with Everett over traditional Japanese cuisine at the welcome dinner.

Day 02: Tokyo

Street photography

Western-style hotel, moderate

After a dawn visit to Senso-ji Temple, capture the many faces of Tokyo on a guided city tour. Photograph salary men slurping noodles, teenagers modelling outlandish fashions, chefs slicing sushi at speed, sailor-suited school kids commuting solo, and more amid the towering metropolis.

Day 03: Tokyo

The world of sumo

Western-style hotel, moderate

Sumo is our focus today; the sport’s roots trace straight back to the samurai. We’ll start by watching early morning training rituals at a sumo stable, before feasting as the wrestlers do on chunky nabe stew. We’ll then have a very special shoot, photographing a sumo wrestler outside in the backstreets.

Day 04: Aizu Wakamatsu

Martial arts practice

Western-style hotel, moderate

Bushido, the samurai code of honour, lives on in Aizu Wakamatsu. Our backdrop is Nisshinkan, established in 1803 by the Aizu clan as a school for the children of samurai. Now a centre for martial arts, we’ll photograph multi-generational families practising kendo. We’ll also try our hand at Japanese archery.

Day 05: Soma

Modern-day samurai

Traditional Japanese inn, moderate

The small town of Soma was a powerful samurai domain during the Edo Period (1603-1868). Every summer the residents honour their past in a spectacular horseback archery festival. Today we’ll photograph the 34th hereditary chieftain of the Soma clan dressed in the armour of his samurai ancestors.

Day 06: Soma

Tsunami recovery

Traditional Japanese inn, moderate

Soma’s coastline was decimated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. As an optional excursion, we’ll get special access to photograph inside the nuclear exclusion zone. Our guide from a local tourism initiative will explain the story of that fateful day, the nuclear fallout and how the community are rebuilding their lives.

Day 07: Yamadera

The last falconer

Western-style hotel, moderate

Today Everett will introduce you to Japan’s last falconer, Mr Hidetoshi Matsubara, in the mountains of Yamadera. For more than 40 years, Matsubara-san trained bear hawks to hunt rabbits for their meat and fur. Falconry was first introduced to Japan in the 4th century from Korea and was an essential survival skill in the northern mountains.

Day 08: Mount Haguro

Yamabushi priest

Western-style hotel, moderate

For more than 1,400 years the priests of the Three Sacred Mountains of Dewa have practised shugendo, an ancient ascetic religion that incorporates elements of native Shintoism with Buddhism imported from China. We’ll photograph the priests in their ceremonial garb going about their daily rituals on the mountain.

Day 09: Sado Island

Taiko drumming

Traditional Japanese inn, moderate

Sado’s history as a place of exile for dissidents sent to work in the gold mines, has left a rich cultural legacy. The island is dotted with Noh theatres and dance groups, as well as the famous Kodo drummers. We’ll photograph a taiko drum ensemble in action and have a go at a simple drum routine ourselves.

Day 10: Sado Island

Island traditions

Traditional Japanese inn, moderate

We’ll document the taraibune tub boats at Sado Island’s Ogi Port today, as well as meeting one of the last remaining carpenters responsible for crafting the cedar and bamboo boats. At the gold mine we’ll also photograph Okesa folk dancers.

Day 11: Tokyo

A male geisha

Western-style hotel, moderate

The bullet train will take us back to Tokyo. Our final dinner will be aboard a yakatabune long boat lined with red lanterns for a trip around Tokyo Bay. Inside we’ll be entertained by geisha, including Eitaro, Japan’s only male geisha who performs as a female dancer.

Day 12


The tour concludes after breakfast in Tokyo. Time to head to the airport, or if you would like to extend your time in Japan, we’d be delighted to make additional arrangements.

Tour details


Maximum group size: 12 people

All tours can be customised as private services

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You can contact us using the form below. Alternatively, why not give us a call? We’d love to talk to you about your photography travel plans.

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Many thanks for your enquiry. Whe shall be in touch soon and look forward to assisting you with your trip to Japan and making your Asian travel dreams a reality!

Again thank you for your interest, and we wish you all the best.

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Thanks for your enquiry

Many thanks for your booking enquiry. Whe shall be in touch soon and look forward to assisting you with your trip to Japan and making your Asian travel dreams a reality!

Again thank you for your interest, and we wish you all the best.

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