Scenes from Shangri-La, by Michael Yamashita ’71

Michael Yamashita ’71 (©Michael Yamashita)

For more than 35 years, photographer Michael Yamashita ’71 has worked for National Geographic, tackling assignments in war zones, deserts, and mountains on six continents. His book Shangri-La: Along the Tea Road to Lhasa—originally published in 2012 and reissued in 2020 by Edizioni White Star—vividly captures Tibet and its legendary Tea Horse Road, or Chamagudao, an ancient trade route to western China. The updated book represents a continuation of Yamashita’s extensive travels in China and Tibet, including new images and insights from destinations such as Jiuzhaigou; Lijiang; the Monastery of Dongzulin; the Nunnery of Yarlung Gar; Mount Everest; and the sacred mountains of Kailas Range.

The photos below are a selection from Shangri-La.

Yamashita photo - rice paddies
An expansive view of rice paddies from Songtsam Lodge in Tacheng, where a local farming community of Tibetans, Lisu, and Naxi minorities have been working the valley for centuries. (©Michael Yamashita)
Yamashita photo - tea terraces
Terraces of tea grow at the largest tea plantation in Xishuangbanna, in Yunnan province, which is considered the birthplace of tea. Xishuangbanna is the top producer of renowned Puer tea.  (©Michael Yamashita)
Yamashita photo - rainbow and stupas
A double rainbow forms over a field of chorten (stupas, or dome-shaped structures erected as Buddhist shrines), in Bame, Sichuan province. (©Michael Yamashita)
Yamashita photo - making yak butter
A nomadic grandmother and her grandchild share a tender moment while she churns yak butter. (©Michael Yamashita)
Yamashita photo - children and Tibetan architecture
Children gaze down from intricately decorated windows, which are framed by traditional Tibetan architecture. (©Michael Yamashita)
Yamashita photo - monastery
A majestic view of Yarchen Gar Monastery, which is home to an estimated 10,000 Tibetan nuns who live on an island in the Changdu River in small box huts. The monastery is the largest community of nuns in the world. (©Michael Yamashita)
Cover of Shangri-La
Shangri-La: Along the Tea Road to Lhasa was reissued in 2020 by Edizioni White Star. (Photo courtesy Edizioni White Star/© Michael Yamashita)