Traditional Japan and Fall Colors Tour

Japan, November 4-14, 2023

Have you ever wanted to visit and photograph Japan?

Japan can be difficult for a foreigner to visit in a way that makes it possible to get the most artistic and satisfying photographs and not the usual tourist snapshots.

Have you considered going there on a photography trip, but never resolved to, because of cultural and language barriers, difficulty of planning, or because you are scared of being ripped off by tour operators that don't have the best interests of photographers in mind?

If that's the case, you might have just found the solution to your problems.

Mount Fuji and yellow Gingko tree

This is a tour meant to let you discover the intimate and traditional Japan, its onsen (thermal baths), wooden houses, tatami floors, tea ceremonies and smiling geishas. We want to make you experience the real Japan that lies beneath the high-tech gadgets and the glitzy neon lights.

The pace of the tour is optimal for us photographers. It is designed to let us spend as much time as we see fit in each location, without unnecessary pressure to move on to the next one. It We don't like shooting when there are big crowds and we're sure you don't either, so we'll pick times carefully to avoid them.

Ours will be a small group of no more than 10 photographers. We deliberately chose to limit the group size to make the tour more of an intimate experience and to give you our undivided support.

This also means we will be able to select smaller, more traditional hotels and restaurants and avoid those that cater to large groups and events.

The Season

November is a magical season in Japan. Weather is typically fair, with balmy days and cool nights. It is not unusual to lie down on the grass in a park in Kyoto with no jacket on, and to wear gloves and a scarf at night in the mountains. In any case, it seldom rains, as the typhoon season ends in October.

The cooler temperatures trigger the onset of foliage, causing the leaves of the Japanese maples and of the gingko trees turn bright red and yellow, respectively. In between, all shades of orange appear. Few places in the world are as dazzling as a Japanese temple's garden in the fall.

This tour has been carefully planned to give you the best chances at capturing the fall colors as they spread from North to South. However, keep in mind that the the exact dates when peak color happens change from year to year and we can't change Nature's course. 

Japanese calligraphy


Japan is a place of contrasts. On one hand it is a modern, technologically advanced, almost futuristic society. On the other, it carefully preserves its millenary traditions, in the form of arts and crafts, religious ceremonies and architecture.

This tour focuses on these latter aspects, deliberately excluding the glitzy neon lights of the Shinjuku and Akihabara districts of Tokyo in order to let you spend more time in old-fashioned Gion in Kyoto or in tranquil mountain towns like Takayama.

It's hard to visit Japan and not spend some time in its immense capital, so if you've never visited Tokyo or would like to see it again, an optional extension can be added, before the beginning of the tour. Express to me your desire to enjoy Tokyo and we'll discuss the possibilities.


To ensure the maximum level of comfort during the whole trip, we will make ample use of Japan's super-efficient and timely railway network, including the famed Shinkansen bullet trains. These are usually the fastest means of moving from city to city.

Wherever necessary, we will also use private luxury vans with professional drivers.

At a Glance

  • The tour will be held between November 4th and November 14th, 2023.
  • Duration is 11 days (10 nights), with the possibility of extensions.
  • The price of the tour is €6,500, inclusive of single room accommodation.
  • The tour starts in Tokyo on Nov 4th and ends in Osaka on Nov. 14th. We recommend booking your return flight from Osaka, but transfer back to Tokyo via bullet train is also possible.
  • Highlights of the tour will include:
    • Kyoto, with its temples and parks
    • The traditional mountain villages of Shirakawa-go, famed for their farmhouses with dramatically angled thatched roofs.
    • Other historical cities and locations, possibly including Nara, Kanazawa, Takayama, Matsumoto, Kamakura, Nikko.
    • An optional extension to Tokyo before the beginning of the tour.
    • More to be revealed as we proceed with the planning and scouting.
  • Very small group size: maximum of 10 students.
  • Assistance of a professional photographer.
  • The best local guides and drivers.

To travel and work with Ugo is a delight. He is resourceful and knows his destination, so no matter what weather awaits you, Ugo will always suggest a way to make the most of the day. He is energetic, non-stop, productive. A travel/work experience with Ugo motivates you to become a better photographer. Must mention that he is very fun company, and loves good food!

Cristina Piva , São Paulo, Brazil


Map of tour locations in Japan








What is included

What is included

The price of the workshop includes:

  • Support and photography instruction by myself during the whole tour.
  • Review and post-processing sessions during the whole tour.
  • Ten nights' in select hotels with single room accommodation. You won't have to share a room or pay extra for having a room to yourself!
  • JR Rail Pass and transportation in a private vehicle during the whole tour, including transfer to and from the airports, as required by the itinerary detailed above.
  • All breakfasts.

What is NOT included

The price of the workshop does NOT include:

  • Transportation to and from your place of residence to the airports of Osaka and Tokyo.
  • Entrance tickets to museums, temples and archaeological sites.
  • Any meals outside of breakfast.
  • Beverages.
  • Personal health and travel insurance. A travel insurance, covering medical, hospitalization and repatriation costs in case of illness or accidents is strongly recommended
  • Anything not specifically mentioned in the "What is included" section.


Use the form below to submit your booking request. I will respond within two business days with a confirmation. In order to confirm your booking, a deposit of €1,000 is required.

Traditional Japan and Fall Colors Tour Booking Form

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will be happy to provide all the answers you need.

Torii gates at Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine

My husband and I were fortunate to travel on Ugo Cei's photography trip to Oman. The country itself is an undiscovered treasure, filled with nature and welcoming people. Traveling with Ugo was a pure pleasure. He offered us a thoroughly researched itinerary and lots of photographic guidance. We shot portraits, landscapes, markets and all manner of subjects and Ugo was always there to offer tips. Do yourself a favor and try out one of his workshops!

Susan Higgins Flickinger , Verona, WI
Man looking out of traditional Japanese house in Kyoto, Japan

I have done 3 photo tours with 3 different guides and locations, this has been the best of the three. Ugo was definitely the best of the three guides. His attention to detail with setting the scene and location with models, suggestions on camera settings were helpful for me, a novice with portrait photography. I would definitely recommend any tour with Ugo, he is an excellent photographer willing to share his knowledge, experience and secrets of special places he knows to make the entire photography experience a lifetime memory.

Diana Hatfield , Denver, CO
Temple and red leaves, Nikko

If you are planning to travel and love photography at any level Ugo can plan a personal tour to fit in with your itinerary! He has a wealth of knowledge to share with you on any subject of photography. Apart from photography (my passion) Ugo provides a total travel experience looking at Italy through the eyes of a local. A life changing trip leaving me totally hooked to book another! Thank you Ugo and yes I will be returning my dilemma is choosing a destination.

Sharon Jackson , Gold Coast, Australia
Chureito Pagoda, Mt. Fuji  and red maple tree

Ugo was a wonderful teacher and host in Venice at last years’ Carnival. He takes all the time you need to get your shot and to help with the camera settings when needed! Ugo was very generous and took us out for dinner two times, beginning and end of the workshop. And, he’s fun to be with!!

Lynda Rubin Greenberg , Toronto, Canada
Inside of a Gassho-style house, Shirakawago

What an extraordinary experience to participate in a photography tour and workshop with Ugo Cei Photography Tours, in Venice, Italy during the Venice Carnival. His knowledge of Venice along with the right place to be at the right time made this perfect. Add to that his technical and lighting knowledge and then to top it off the perfect local eateries and local interests. It was days full from daylight to evening at a manageable pace with likeminded new international friends. So glad I took the leap and participated.

Judith Pannozo , Racine, WI
Fall colors