In addition to Yamashita’s focus on Asia, his work has taken him to six continents. Yamashita’s particular specialty is in retracing the paths of famous travelers and historical routes resulting in stories on Marco Polo, the Chinese explorer Zheng He, Chamagudao - the Tea Horse Road, the Great Wall of China, the Mekong River from source to mouth.
His feature documentary, The Ghost Fleet, inspired by his National Geographic story about the 15th-century Admiral, won the Best Historical Documentary prize at the New York International Independent Film Festival and his National Geographic Channel documentary, Marco Polo: The China Mystery Revealed, based on his three-part magazine story, received two Asian Television and Film Awards. It was also included in the top twenty most popular NG Channel documentaries of the decade.
A frequent keynote speaker for corporations and foundations, as well as a lecturer and teacher at universities and workshops around the world, Yamashita has received numerous industry awards, including those from the Pictures of the Year, Photo District News, the New York Art Directors Club, and the Asian-American Journalists Association. Major exhibits of his work have opened throughout Asia, in Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Taipei and Singapore, as well as in Rome, Venice, Frankfurt, and Perpignan, France. His work has been exhibited in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and at the National Gallery in Washington, DC
Yamashita has published eleven books (mostly inspired by his 30 National Geographic stories): 88: The China Collection; Shangri-La: Along the Tea Road to Lhasa; The Great Wall From Beginning to End; New York: Flying High, an aerial portrait of Manhattan; Zheng He: Tracing the Epic Voyages of China’s Greatest Explorer; Japan: The Soul of a Nation; Marco Polo, A Photographer’s Journey; Mekong: A Journey on the Mother of Waters; In the Japanese Garden; A Pictorial Tribute to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy; Lakes, Peaks and Prairies: Discovering the U.S. Canadian Border.
While not traveling, Michael Yamashita lives with his family in rural New Jersey, where he maintains a studio and is an active volunteer fireman.
Among others are Pictures of the Year, Photo District News, the New York Art Directors Club, and the Asian-American Journalists Association.