Shirakawa River, Snow, Japan

Japan Photo Tour in Winter Light

goldfish pond, Shirakawa-go, Japan
A goldfish pond in Shirakawa-go, Japan. (c) 2016 George Nobechi

“Hello! Your image is currently featured on Instagram’s The Week on Instagram…Every week, we look back and highlight some of our favorite emerging voices across the globe. We’re excited to highlight yours this week. Thank you for everything you do!” –The Instagram Team

Those of you who have been following this blog know that I have been undertaking a grand transition from a stock trader in the Big City to a photographer and “Gentleman Backpacker,” well, anywhere the prevailing wind takes me.

The wind last summer took me to Santa Fe, New Mexico to the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, and this past winter it carried me back to Japan, the land of my birth.  This time, in the form of a Japan photo tour, I brought with me the illustrious photographer Arthur Meyerson, most famous for his great work across four decades as a commercial photographer shooting for the likes of Coca-Cola, Nike, and Apple, and a group of 13 photographers from Canada, the UK, the US, and Japan.

Tanuki and Store, Shirakawa, Japan
Humorous “tanuki” (raccoon bears) stand guard in front of a closed shop, Shirakawa-go, Japan. (c) 2016 George Nobechi

We called it “Japan in Winter Light” and spent 15 days all over the country. This trip was a resounding success, and it has spawned two more Japan photo tours this fall to different parts of the country with two very different photographers. More on this later, but I wanted to express my deep appreciation for the Brave 13 who came on this first trip with me. I hope that they were not disappointed by the journey Arthur and I crafted for them. On my end, it was a labour of love–tough, demanding, not financially rewarding–but it was worth every effort in the end.

In the middle of the trip, some amazing news came from Instagram, when the official instagram blog featured my work as an “emerging voice.”

“Hello! Your image is currently featured on Instagram’s The Week on Instagram…Every week, we look back and highlight some of our favorite emerging voices across the globe. We’re excited to highlight yours this week. Thank you for everything you do!” –The Instagram Team

Not too bad for someone who hadn’t taken a photo class before until summer of 2014!

The past several weeks I have spent every spare hour I have in front of my computer, compiling the images the Brave 13 sent me, sequencing them, and setting them to music. The result is a slide show that has brought me to tears a number of times. I couldn’t be more proud of our group and the powerful images they made. You will notice that these photos don’t look like your typical “tourist” photos of Japan and that’s because these skilled men and women from all over the world reached deep into their tools, experience, and sensitivity to reach a deeper layer of the fabric of Japanese culture. I never had any training in video production, of course–that was never a part of my education in history, or practical experience on Wall Street–so it took me quite some time to craft this show, but to me, the hundreds of  hours spent on this was well worth it in the end.

Shirakawa River, Snow, Japan
The River in Shirakawa with snow-dusted mountain, as taken from a moving bus. (c) 2016 George Nobechi

So here is a big thank you and tip of my cap to Lisa Brockman, Bob Newman, George Howard, Marion Howard, Naho Summersall, Tom Summersall, Ann Waldman, Jim Waldman, Fred Blum, Sam Johnson, Lynda Smyth, Karen Ahn, Gaye Leggat, and also Reid Callanan, Director of Santa Fe Workshops,  Arthur and to the people behind the scenes: Sumire Nobechi especially, but also Emi Kalischer, Christian Howes, Hisa Ishihara, Andy of Andy’s Fish in Tokyo, and the Santa Fe Workshops staff.

So about the two Japan photo tours coming up this fall. The first is with National Geographic legend and revered lecturer and teacher, Sam Abell, called AUTUMN IN JAPAN: On the Poet’s Path” and will be a northern Japanese tour running from November 6-19th following in the footsteps of 17th century Haiku master Matsuo Basho and is designed for advanced amateurs, pros, and philosophers (yes, philosophers). The second, entitled “CENTRAL JAPAN’S SPLENDOR: Photographing the Land and People of the Rising Sun” is with Jennifer Spelman, a fantastic, up-and-coming instructor known for her patient teaching style and her wonderful work in Cuba, and will focus on Takayama (mountains), Kyoto (city), and Miyajima (sea) amid the late fall colours of Japan. This trip is designed for photographers of all ability levels. Both trips include all accommodations, transportation within Japan, my personal guidance, instruction by these revered teachers, and are tremendously good values even if you leave aside the photography aspect of the trips (priced up individually you would pay more for the trip components via a travel agent than you would for this package).

If you would like to know more, email me at [email protected]

If you would like to see more images from my work in Japan, have a look at my portfolio website here:

I guess I would say that my journey and transition have moved nicely from the initial stages to a secondary stage. I have tons of new work that I have made in the past year as well, which I am itching to curate and edit and show to the world.

For my next post, I would like to share with you some of my favourite restaurants in Tokyo–because who doesn’t love a good restaurant list, right?

Oh, and of course, here is the slideshow!


2 thoughts on “Japan Photo Tour in Winter Light”

  1. Greetings, I’m trying to put together a backpack trip in Wyoming – the Grand Tetons (I’ve heard that might be better than the Wind River Wilderness). Does anyone have any experience with the Tetons? Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Mark. First of all, thanks for stopping by. I will be up in Wyoming later this summer myself, but I know the perfect person to ask on this matter–a photographer who visits Wyoming frequently. When you say it “might be better” in what sense are you asking? That would help me to narrow the focus of my questions for him. What kind of experience do your prioritize? Thanks!

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