Fuji-Q Dance

Here’s a short video by leader Val of some of our students dancing and having fun at the amusement park! Enjoy!


Tsujiki Fish Market

Today we visited the famous Tsujiki Fish Market and it did not disappoint. Our cultural guide Toshi led us through the outer market as we tasted local treats from a variety of shops and stands. Afterward, we explored the inner market and got to witness Tsujiki in action. Conversations about sustainable fishing was a major topic of conversation.

The market is closing for good in the next few months and moving to another location. We all felt luck to be there in its final days. Check out the photos from the day!



Photo by Bridget




Mt. Fujiiiiiiiiiiii

This post features student writing and photography by Nathan R.

On our third day, we traveled to Mount Fuji! While the weather has been very hot in Japan, we have stayed in good spirits and have all loved the opportunity to shoot in a foreign land. So far the group has eaten a lot of sushi, explored the city, played around in the gaming district, and photographed just about everything we have seen. There have been three classroom sessions where we learned about our wonderful instructors and have picked up skills and techniques for shooting. In these sessions, the leaders and experts show us their work that they are most proud of in order to inspire our own work. While the trip has been a great learning experience to improve our photography, what has been most important is that, despite our huge numbers, everyone has gotten along great and we have all been making many new friends.


One of the famous neighborhoods in Tokyo is Akihabara – known for its arcades, games, shopping and sensory stimulus! Here are some snippets of our time exploring this part of town…

Tokyo – Land of Contrasts

Greetings from Tokyo, Japan, land of the rising sun! We’ve finished our first full day and it was one to remember, exploring some of Tokyo’s fascinating contrasts- Kawaii culture in Akihabara and traditional culture at the Meiji Shrine. 

The day started off with getting to know James Whitlow Delano and his work. James is a long-time Tokyo resident and National Geographic Photographer. He introduced us to how he became a photographer, his work, and his approach to street photography in Japan. We discussed the ethics of photographing people in public, strategies for getting candid moments, and how to approach people and ask to take their portrait. Japan is also experiencing a heat wave with temperatures in the 90’s, so we also discussed keeping hydrated and that taking care of yourself is the most important thing on any photography assignment because if you’re not healthy, you won’t be taking many photos. 

After class, we headed to lunch at “Kawaii Monster Cafe” and did a deep dive into Akihabara’s culture of cuteness, known in Japanese as “Kawaii”. Students broke up into their photo groups and we hit the bustling-sensory-overloading craziness of Takeshita Dori street to tackle the first assignment. There was no shortage of interesting people and things to photograph. 

Kawaii Monster Cafe
A dance lesson at the Kawaii Monster Cafe
Kawaii Monster Cafe

Tokyo is a city of extremes living in harmony. On one side it feels like you’re living in the future, it’s modern and high-tech with neon lights, never-ending shopping, advertisements and crazy fashion. However, on the other side, there is ancient traditional Japan acting as a counter-balance. Quiet and serene temples and parks dot the city, giving residents here a place to rest, relax, and de-stress. After Harajuku, we were in need of exactly that, so we headed to Meiji Shrine, a very important shrine in Japan. Built in 1921, it was dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken. You know this place is interesting when both George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton have made visits here.

Made of Japanese cypress trees, this is the world’s largest “torii” or gate. This large gate stands at the entrance to the Shinto shrine. It symbolically marks the transition from the mundane to sacred.
The world’s largest torii. This large gate stands at the entrance to the shrine, symbolizing the borderline between the human world and the land of the Gods.
Sake barrels outside Meiji Shrine.
Meiji Shrine
Intricately carved doors leading into the shrine.
Performing “Temizu”, a hand washing custom before going into the shrine.

After shooting for most of the day, everyone was in great need of some rest and a cold shower. We headed back to the hotel, had dinner, and wrapped up the day with a night photography expedition to a nearby art installation. 

Everyone hit the sack for some well-deserved sleep, resting up for another exciting day in Tokyo! 

-Jocelyn, Ross, Valerie, Jeff & Jes

Time to Get Excited!

Minasan Konnichiwa!

Genki desu-ka?! Greetings from beautiful Vermont, where our superstar team has been excitedly preparing for the upcoming adventure to TOKYO (東京), the world’s most exciting city! We can’t wait to explore and photograph its frenetic neon-clad streets, lively neighborhood festivals, tranquil temples, and incredible food scene.

Like any good photographer going on an assignment in a far-off land, spend some time researching the culture (do’s and don’ts), learning some Japanese (master the basics!), and VERY IMPORTANTdownload and test Lightroom on the laptop you are bringing to Tokyo. Be prepared to hit the ground running. This. Is. Going. To. Be. Life. Changing!

— Your Tokyo All-Star Team (Jes, Jocelyn, Tasha, Ross, Jeff, and Nat Geo expert James Whitlow Delano)

Jes, Jocelyn, (Tasha), Ross, & Jeff


Welcome to National Geographic! This blog is where friends and family can follow along on the group’s adventures through periodic updates, photos, and stories from the field. While we hope for a blog update once or twice each week, internet access is often limited so posts may be less frequent.

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Have a fantastic summer!