Kamikochi | Kappabashi (Kappa Bridge)

May 17 | Evan | No Comments |


Kappabashi is an icon of Kamikochi and centrally located in the area.  It’s about a 10 minute walk or so from the Kamikochi Bus Terminal and an hour or so walk from either of the famous ponds, Myojin Pond or Taisho Pond.  Kappabashi, along with the bus terminal, are the most crowded areas as it is centrally located and there are a lot of places to stay close by along with the only restaurants/giftshops in Kamikochi.  Convenience wise, I would recommend staying close to this area, but if you are looking to avoid crowds, then stay someplace else….  It is also a very popular area for picnics and to have a drink as well as the site for the opening and closing festivals.   I was here around the middle of the day, so not the best light, but with my limited time, I have to be somewhere during the dreaded middle of the day light hours!  More of Kamikochi coming soon!

Kamikochi Japan | My new favorite place in Japan

May 16 | Evan | No Comments |


I’ve often said that Kyoto is my favorite place in Japan, and perhaps in the world, but last Fall I had the chance to visit Kamikochi for the first time and while I think Kyoto is still my overall favorite, Kamikochi took a small piece of my heart away from Kyoto!  Kamikochi offers picture perfect postcard views with it’s mountains and pristine lakes.   While you cannot drive around the area, hiking to most parts is relatively easy, either by walking path, gravel or elevated wooden paths.  Of course, for those looking for real hiking, you can use Kamikochi as a base to explore the nearby mountains that are part of Japanese Alps.



I walked most of both sides of the Azusa River from Myojin Pond to Taisho Pond, but along the nature path, there are places where it splits, so I couldn’t see everything… Especially because I only had time to stay 2 days and 1 night so I was rushing to see as much as possible.  I recommend staying at least 2, or even better, 3 nights to fully enjoy all the spectacular hiking and mountain scenery Kamikochi has to offer! Especially if you are visiting for photography reasons, you will want to spend as much time there as possible. There are too many photographic opportunities and spending one day walking around to explore the different pathways and views is great to decide where you want to take photos.


Kamikochi is located in the Japanese Alps and part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park. Kamikochi is a little isolated which means it isn’t accessed very easily and the few places to stay aren’t exactly cheap. Also, you can only visit Kam

kamikochiikochi from April 18th to November 15th so timing is limited as well. Private cars are not allowed to enter Kamikochi but instead must park close to the entrance gate. From the parking lot, you will need to take a bus. To access Kamikochi completely via public transportation, you can take a bus from Takayama to Hirayu Onsen and then another bus to Kamikochi. A more popular route is probably from Matsumoto Station, take a train to Shin-Shimashima and then a bus to Kamikochi. If you don’t speak Japanese, the trip isn’t exactly easy, but it is doable. The bus to Kamikochi will not stop at every stop, so if nobody else is getting off where you need to and you don’t press the bell and miss your stop, just get off at the Kamikochi Bus Terminal and you can find your way from there. That being said, depending on where you are staying, you may have a significant walk from the bus terminal!  Take a look at this map from the Official Kamikochi site to see the layout of everything.


2013-10-21 11.28.43To help keep Kamikochi beautiful and the wildlife in good shape, there are 5 rules of Kamikochi that you will see everywhere:  No collecting, no feeding, no littering (even should bring trash home with you), no bringing in (animals), no stepping into (off the paths).

I have lot’s of photos from Kamikochi to share and will be posting them soon to share about Myojin Pond, Kappabashi, Taisho Pond, photos from walking around and a few of my favorite photos of Kamikochi in black and white.  The worst part about visiting Kamikochi is having to decide which of the wonderful photos you want to share!

Why should I visit Japan with a guide or group tour?

May 13 | Evan | No Comments |

I get asked frequently why should I visit Japan with a group or a guide and there are many reasons why you should see the sights in Japan with a guide! There is nothing wrong with going sightseeing in Japan by yourself and Japan is safe enough (actually, crime wise, Japan is probably just about the safest country there is) where you really don’t have to worry about most issues you have when traveling to other countries. Like most things in life, there are some advantages to touring Japan with a guide and some benefits to enjoy your holiday in Japan by yourself!

First, let’s explore the benefits of traveling to Japan by yourself…



Of course visiting Japan by yourself gives you the ultimate flexibility because you can visit sights in Japan you want to see and eat the foods in Japan you want to eat and so on… I spent about 4 years off an on traveling by myself around Japan and it was filled with wonderful experiences and my favorite foods!

Less of an investment

This, along with all reasons to visit Japan by yourself, kind of goes along with flexibility as you can stay and eat where you want to in Japan and save money how you want to. Not to mention you don’t have the added expense of a guide.

Public transportation in Japan is awesome

I don’t think it is possible to find as efficient, safe and clean public transportation anywhere else in the world, Japan’s public transportation is top-notch and can get you most popular places. Not only in Tokyo, Kyoto and other popular places, but even in the countryside there is at least some network of trains and buses that are usually still on time. Also, there are great apps and websites like hyperdia that will give you the best way to get from one station to another including details of transfer times, cost, total time and more.

Japanese people usually want to help foreigners

No sweeping statement is always true, but especially in areas where non-Japanese are more common, locals are usually really happy to help us clueless foreigners!


Japan is safe and Japanese people are usually trustworthy

Again, no sweeping statement is always true and yes, you should always use common sense when traveling, but compared to most countries, Japan is about as safe as they come and Japanese people tend to be very honest and trustworthy. You really don’t have to worry about being “taken for” since you are not a local.

Here are the reasons why it is great to have a guide when visiting Japan…


Guides will save you time

Time efficiency means more vacation time in Japan and less planning time before you visit Japan, especially if you are on a private tour.  Time is one of the few things in life you can never get more of and by definition of taking a holiday in Japan, you will have a very limited time in Japan.  My services will not only save you time in the planning process of your trip to Japan, but also when in Japan guides will make your time more efficient.  Getting from your hotel or sightseeing spot A to sightseeing spot B will be much easier with a guide. Yes, Japan has great public transportation but one look at the Tokyo Metro Map (only the subway not including the trains even) might make your head explode! Then once you get to your station, addresses in Japan aren’t straightforward as they are in other countries, and good luck finding street signs in Japanese let alone English.   If you don’t have a portable wifi device or roaming service to use your navigation app on your phone, you are in even worse trouble for finding places efficiently. A4-英-1212

Speaking Japanese in Japan is better than speaking English

Yes, you can visit Japan by yourself, even if you don’t speak Japanese, but traveling with somebody that speaks Japanese makes many situations much easier and again, will save you lot’s of time and even some frustration!   In Tokyo and other very popular tourist areas you will find English signs, but not always and finding English speakers, even in Tokyo isn’t always easy.  If you have dietary restrictions, it could be very difficult explaining what you can and cannot eat in English.  Once you leave Tokyo, English will become even less common…

Knowledge and personal experiences

Guides probably know more than you do about Japan!  Big surprise I know, but it is true!  Through my time living and traveling to Japan, I’ve learned quite a bit about Japan and can help you decide how to best spend your time depending on your interests and needs.  Again, you only have a limited time in Japan, so you will not be able to visit all the sightseeing spots and ramen restaurants, but I can tell you which ones might be best for you. Of course I don’t know everything about Japan and always try to get feedback and ask questions to what interests you have in Japan to make your time in Japan more meaningful.

Special experiences in Japan can’t always be booked by yourself

133_8636efWant to knock something off the bucket list?  Not only will guides know more than you, guides will have better connections than you!  Want to do something unique and special in Japan?   Like many places in the world, it is just as much about who you know!  With my local connections, I can arrange some special experiences that you can’t on your own or sometimes without me being there.  There are even some cases where something could be “sold out” for you, but not for me or even one step further, it could still be for me, but not for my connections in Japan.

Less stress in planning and getting around Japan

Whether it is a group tour of Japan you are interested in, or a private tour with your family to Japan, your guide can handle most things that will cause you stress so that you can enjoy your vacation!   Making the schedule fit is not only time-consuming, but it can be very stressful. Again, while in Japan, having a guide escort you around to make sure transfers between cities or just sightseeing spots go smoothly will certainly reduce your stress and let you focus on enjoying your vacation or creating your art in Japan.

Final note about my tours in Japan

Japan Photo Guide offers both custom tours for families and friends as well as group tours for photographers, photography hobbyists and their friends and family. Private escorted tours to Japan are catered to each group and even with the group tours to Japan, I always customize parts of the tour according to the participants to try and make the most out everyone’s holiday in Japan. If you are interesting in a group tour, like my 2014 Fall Japan Tour, or just have some questions, contact me today!

2014 Summer and Fall Tours of Japan

May 09 | Evan | No Comments |

Kyoto-36-japanphotoguideJapan Photo Guide is excited to announce 2 opportunities to experience Japan in 2014! In June and July of 2014 there is limited availability of short day tours or photography/portrait sessions in Japan. Whether in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hokkaido, Miyajima or someplace else, please contact me about what you want to do in Japan this summer!
The next option is a small group tour to Japan in Autumn of 2014! This will be an small group (maximum of 9 plus me) tour of Japan including Tokyo, Miyajima, Takeda Castle Ruins and Kyoto and the surrounding areas like Nara and Arashiyama. The tour will have a photography focus, but there will also be plenty of cultural and other experiences that you don’t have to be a photographer to enjoy, so partners/friends are welcome (and will get to sleep in while we up early for good light)! Even though it is a group tour, the trip to Japan will still be customized for participants to get the most out of it! Hope to see you in Japan!
Japan Photo Guide Fall-024

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