This is the way to improve ones photography, and enjoy doing so.
My second Mentor Series trip and just like the first, it was another great experience. From the organization, (thanks Michelle) to the enthusiasm of the mentor, Tom Bol, the groundwork was laid to allow us to concentrate on "getting the shot".
From Tokyo to Kyoto, Fish-market to Fuji-san, Gardens to Geishas, and Sumo to Saki -- we captured it all.
We had excellent guides that not only led us to the locations, but also gave us cultural background to each place, helping to enrich the experience. That was an extra bonus, because every place became more interesting when we learned something about its history. Flexibility with the itinerary meant we were able to take advantage of changes in the weather and light conditions.
Because there were so many places to see and experiences to absorb, I personally was glad that the local guides were so efficient. We had good safe bus drivers who knew their way around, and (so we were told) each was "the best driver in all of Japan".
High points for me were, the early morning fish market, the group dinner with the Samisen Player and Traditional Dancer. These were things I probably would never have seen as a "tourist".
Our group was very diverse, coming not only from all over the USA and Canada, but also from Europe, The Virgin Islands, and Guam. The group's ages spanned over 40 years, with wide ranging experience levels. Being relatively new to Digital, I was able to learn something from a couple of other group members as well as the mentor, which gives one a different slant on technique -- another great benefit of this kind of trip.
Whatever level your photography is at, it can only improve after taking a trip such as this. Not only will I take part in further Mentor Series treks, but I shall also go back to Japan, such is the impact this trip has had on me.