'SHANGRI-LA [along the tea road to Lhasa]'
Evening discussion with Michael Yamashita, National Geographic photographer
Shangri-La, the name of the utopian lamasery described by novelist James Hilton in his book Lost Horizon, summons visions of a magical city floating high above the earth, hidden away amidst towering mountains, where the secret of eternal peace, youth and happiness might be found. In Shangri-La [along the tea road to Lhasa], National Geographic photographer Michael Yamashita has captured the essence of this elusive paradise as well as the reality of the land in which it was imagined.
Lavishly illustrated with photographs and a personal narrative by Yamashita, the book explores Tibet by following the legendary Chamagudao, the ancient Tea-Horse Road, which winds through dizzying mountain passes, across famed rivers like the Mekong and the Yangtze and past monasteries and meadows in a circuitous route from Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces in western China on its way to the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa. Yamashita will present the challenges in tracing this circuitous route and how the endeavor which began as a feature for National Geographic has culminated in a 272-page, full-color photographic narrative.
Michael Yamashita was born in San Francisco, California, and grew up in Montclair, New Jersey, in suburban New York City. He graduated from Connecticut's Wesleyan University in 1971 with a degree in Asian studies and went on to spend seven years in Asia. Since then, Yamashita's career has combined his two passions, photography and travel. Yamashita's particular specialty has been following the "paths" of both man and landscape, resulting in stories on Marco Polo, the Japanese poet Basho, the Chinese explorer Zheng He, the Mekong River, the Great Wall, and now Shangri-La and the Road to Lhasa.
Yamashita is also a filmmaker. His first film, Marco Polo: The China Mystery Revealed, documented his journey retracing Marco Polo's route to China. His second film, which aired on the National Geographic Channel worldwide, The Ghost Fleet, explored the legacy of legendary Chinese admiral and explorer Zheng He, and won awards at the New York International Film Festival and the New Zealand Documentary Film Festival.