Autumn in Kyoto
November 9-19, 2015
with Eddie Soloway

Japanese gardens at the peak of color.
Traditional artisans in their studios.
Culinary treasures in unique restaurants.
An immersion into old Kyoto.

About the experience . . .

At the most profound moments, Kyoto pulls me. And I know why. As my life races, and I work to wrestle a fast pace and technology back into a box, I reach for the deep place that ancient Japan honors. Elegance in design, respect for handmade, an understanding of the virtues of going slow, and a reference for contemplation. This will be my fifth trip to Kyoto, and it keeps giving me gifts.

I cherish specific moments. A calligrapher in his late seventies, in one breathtaking gesture, created a masterpiece. We were in awe of a Noh mask maker, eighty-nine years old, telling about being a prisoner of war in Siberia while cradling a piece of wood in his feet as he began the process of whittling away the layers into a mask of beauty. It started to rain in the 1300-year old Saiho-ji Moss Temple, and the autumn colors went electric. Day after day we had intimate visits with ancient gardens and profound artisans, our meals were in little inns, restaurants, and homes, and designed to let us taste the whole spectrum of traditional foods. This experience, off the radar of the average tourist, came to me because alumni Ed Dean and Helen Hasenfeld told me I had to get together with Steve Beimel and Nancy Craft of Esprit Travel. Esprit is founded on the idea of quality experiences in and around Kyoto. They go off the beaten path to give you immersions that the tour buses don't know about. They are friends with, and have long term relationships with, the artists. They have a small staff of local guides, and this year Tomoko Kisaka will be back with us, lending her inside stories and gentle touch. And they believe in taking time, in going slow. Their approach is identical to what we talk about in making profound images of the natural world. And it gets better. . . we will be in Kyoto for the peak of autumn foliage.

In the spirit of the Photographic Experiences, this nine night adventure is about immersing ourselves in a diversity of gardens, neighborhoods, and artisans, rich with photographic possibility. It is about having quality time, insightful knowledge, and even time to go back. It is not a workshop, in the sense that we will not be indoors for all the sessions we first had together, though we will have several short sessions in our hotel meeting room to share ideas, and for those folks wanting to bring along the tools to download and edit images, we will celebrate photographs made during the experience. Most of all, this is an immersion into a place of great beauty with the growing community of friends and photographers in "A Natural Eye".

Here are the details:

Travel: Most people will leave the U.S. or Canada on November 9th, arriving in Japan on the 10th. If your flight and energy allow, we will gather casually late on the 10th, but our first meeting as a full group will be on the morning of the 11th. The experience will end after breakfast on the morning of November 19th.

Accommodations: Our base for the experience will be Kyoto's PalaceSide Hotel, perfectly situated next to the Imperial Gardens and a short walk to the modern subway system.

Costs: $4,950.00 which includes round trip airport transfers from Osaka Kansai Airport by MK Skyshuttle, nine nights shared occupancy lodging at Kyoto's PalaceSide Hotel, local group transportation per the itinerary, nine breakfasts, six lunches, two dinners, local guide (Tomoko Kisaka), and group leader (Eddie Soloway). Single supplements are limited, and available for an additional $250.00 based upon availability. The price is based on a minimum group of 12. The price is subject to adjustment for both a smaller group size and currency fluctuation.

Not included: International travel to Osaka Kansai Airport, meals not mentioned, drinks at meals, tips to tour leader, laundry, and items of a personal nature. If you request a double, and a room mate is not found, the single supplement addition will be charged.

It is strongly recommend that participants take out travel insurance in the event of any unexpected changes, disruptions, or cancellations. The cancellation policy is detailed on the General Release form.

PREREQUISITES . . . This experience is for alumni as well as friends and spouses that embrace the photographic focus. In the first four years we had several family members or friends of alumni join us, and we all had a blast.

REGISTRATION . . . To register, e-mail me and request a registration form and a general release form. Both forms should then be sent to Nancy Craft at Esprit Travel, along with a non-refundable deposit of $500.00. When your deposit and forms are received you will be notified if your space is available. Payment deadlines are listed on the back of the General Release form.

CONFIRMATION DATE . . . You will receive an e-mail by July 1 giving the workshop a final confirmation.

PREPARATIONS . . . Esprit will send a detailed planning handbook, flight, dietary and health forms, and a pertinent reading list when the experience is confirmed. You will also receive a list of photographic preparations. A final itinerary will be mailed approximately three weeks before the start of the experience.

If you have dreamed of visiting "Old Japan", where the aesthetics of hand made, natural beauty, and contemplation run deep, and you wanted a way to get the inside view, please consider joining us.

I hope to see you in Kyoto!



Here is our tentative itinerary. It will be finalized approximately 30 days prior to departure, and is subject to change.

Monday, November 9, Depart US

Tuesday, November 10, Arrive Japan

Arrive KIX or ITM and transfer to the Palace Side Kyoto Hotel by reserved van shuttle.
Informal evening gathering in PalaceSide lobby.
Meals included today: None

Wednesday, November 11 Daitokiji Monastery

Introductory Meeting in Piccolo Room
Subway to Kitaoji Station, taxis to Daitokuji Monastery
Visit Koto-in Temple
Lunch at Izusen, Zen vegetarian cuisine
Informal tea ceremony, talk and garden visit with the abbot at Zuiho-in temple
Free time to photograph on the Daitoku-ji grounds
Return to the hotel around 4:30 pm., or earlier if desired
Free evening
Meals included today: Breakfast and lunch

Thursday, November 12 Western Kyoto

Tenryuji Monastery
Hogo-in villa
Free time for lunch
Stroll through bamboo forest
Okochsanso villa and garden
Free time to photograph in the rural Sagano district.
7:00 Dinner at Mazara Honten
Meals included today: Breakfast and dinner

Friday, November 13 Northeastern Kyoto

Shisendo Temple and free time in neighborhood
Shakuhachi flute performance
Lunch at Heihachijaya
Free time in the neighborhood
Studio of performance calligrapher
4:30-6:30 Meeting in Piccolo Room
Free evening
Meals included today: Breakfast and lunch

Saturday, November 14 Countryside Exploration

Country walk and visit Jakko in Temple
Lunch at Wappado with ikebana
Individual time in Ohara, including Sanzen in
Return to Kyoto by taxis
Meals included today: Breakfast and lunch

Sunday, November 15 Nanzen-ji, lunch with geisha, Gion Stroll

Konchi-in sub-temple
Nanzen-ji Monastery grounds
Hojo head abbot’s garden
Visit to master carver of masks for the Noh theater (if available)
Lunch at Kikuya in Miyagawa cho and meeting with apprentice geisha
Stroll around the Gion District
4:30-6:30 Meeting in Piccolo Room
Meals included today: Breakfast and lunch

Monday, November 16 Tofukuji Monastery, gold leaf artist, free afternoon

Before breakfast: Chishakuin Temple Buddhist chanting and fire ceremony with no photos allowed.
Tofukuji Monastery
Studio of gold leaf artist
Free afternoon
Meals included today: Breakfast

Tuesday, November 17 Shiga Prefecture

Depart by private coach:
Studio of indigo dyer
Bento lunch en route
Miho Museum
Ceramic artist
Return in late afternoon
Free evening
Meals included today: Breakfast and lunch

Wednesday, November 18 Ryoanji and the Saihoji Moss Temple

Ryoanji Garden and Toji in
Lunch at Matsuo Shrine
1:00 Saiho-ji Moss Temple Garden
4:30-6:30 pm. Meeting in Piccolo
Farewell dinner at Orto
Meals included today: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Thursday, November 19, Depart Japan

Airport transfers by MK SkyGate Shuttle per individual flight times.
Meals included today: Breakfast

All photographs from the Autumn in Kyoto Experience

© Eddie Soloway. All Rights Reserved.