2015 Fall Photo Tour of Japan | Kanazawa to Natadera

Jan 26 | Evan | No Comments |

Having already spent a lot of time in Kenrokuen and making a day trip to Shirakawago, it was time to check out some other sites around Kanazawa and we made one more day trip to Natadera which is still in Ishikawa Prefecture but in Komatsu and Kaga Onsen area, not Kanazawa.  As you can see below, the fall leaves were stunning here and I guess it makes sense as Natadera is quite famous in the area for autumn foliage!

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Natadera is quite large and is about the size of some of the larger, well known temples in Kyoto.  It’s easy to spend a lot of time walking the paths at Natadera and find interesting photo opportunities.  It’s well known for fall leaves, but Natadera also has a variety of gardens, ponds, moss covered paths and gardens, a small museum and this below which body in our group had the courage to walk up to (what you can’t see from my photo is the steep drop below if you slip off the narrow path but can kind of get an idea from the second photo)!

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The 2015 Fall Photography Tour of Japan included Tokyo, Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Okayama, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Kyoto!  Interesting in joining your own escorted tour of Japan with Japan Photo Guide?  Contact us to get the planning of your trip to Japan started or join one of the group tours of Japan!

2015 Fall Photo Tour of Japan | Kanazawa and Shirakawago

Jan 23 | Evan | No Comments |

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We stayed in Kanazawa for 3 nights for the 2015 Fall Photo Tour and while we spent a lot of time at Kenrokuen, there is plenty else to see and photograph in Kanazawa and a few great day trips you can make.  The first day trip we took was this Shirakawago, a village of traditional farmhouses in the remote mountains of Japan.  The historic villages of Shiragkawago and Gokayama are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are famous for the traditional architectural style of home known as gassho zukuri, which translates to praying hands construction.  Shirakawago Japan Photo Guide 030

Recently, Shirakawago and Gokayama have become very popular with both foreign and Japanese tourists and it can be quite crowded during the day.  If your schedule allows it, staying in one of the traditional homes is a unique and usually recommend experience!  While you can expect lodgings amenities to be minimal, waking up early and walking around the area without the hoards of tourists is quite peaceful!

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The 2015 Fall Photography Tour of Japan included Tokyo, Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Okayama, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Kyoto!  Interesting in joining your own escorted tour of Japan with Japan Photo Guide?  Contact us to get the planning of your trip to Japan started or join one of the group tours of Japan!

2015 Fall Photography Tour of Japan | Kanazawa and Kenrokuen

Jan 22 | Evan | No Comments |

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The 2015 Fall Photography Tour of Japan started off with a short stay in Tokyo and then on to include Kanazawa, Okayama, Miyajima, Kyoto and then returning to Tokyo.  The first evening started off with a rainy day in Tokyo and by the time we reached the city from the airport, it was dinner time.  So on a rainy Tokyo evening, we head out to meet a group of Japanese friends for a welcome dinner at an izakaya (think Japanese tapas bar).  After breakfast the next morning we headed north west along the new Japan Rail Hokuriku Shinkansen which extended all the way to Kanazawa in the Spring of 2015.  This makes reaching Kanazawa much easier and quicker from Tokyo than in the past!  So what’s to see in Kanazawa?  Too much for our 3 days we would spend in the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, but the most famous attraction is Kenrokuen, Japan’s most famous garden.

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Our timing for the leaves was good as we could see some trees in the peak and others in the midst of changing, offering a variety of greens, yellows, oranges and reds, very nice!  The weather could have been a little better though as we had fairly dreary days.  Though with my recent luck with the weather, not having rain, or a typhoon, was certainly a plus!  Back to Kanazawa and Kenrokuen though!  It’s a beautifully landscaped garden that is big enough that you could spend all day walking around and finding interesting things to make photos of.  The stone lantern in the first two photos is Kenrokuen’s iconic view and what you will see if you google Kenrokuen, but plenty of other great photography spots to be found!

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There is small entrance fee to access the garden, but what’s great for photographers is that early in the morning, before sunrise you can enter for free until the normal access hours.  The fact that Kenrokuen opens before sunrise is wonderful as that happening for gardens is very rare in Japan.  These next few photos were taken early in the morning during the blue hour.Kenrokuen Japan Photo Guide 008

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As you could guess, along with the benefit of having great light in the early morning, as Kenrokuen is the most famous garden in Japan, going early means you beat the mass crowds of tourists to come later in the day.  Besides the iconic lantern in the first few images, Kenrokuen is famous for how they protect their trees from the heavy snow Kanazawa gets during the Winter called yukitsuri. During our time there, most of the ropes were setup already but we did get to see one being setup by a team in the garden.  You can see the ropes in a cone shape on some of the trees below and then at the bottom some night time photos as during the fall leaves season, Kenrokuen lights up some of the trees.

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The 2015 Fall Photography Tour of Japan included Tokyo, Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Okayama, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Kyoto!  Interesting in joining your own escorted tour of Japan with Japan Photo Guide?  Contact us to get the planning of your trip to Japan started or join one of the group tours of Japan!


Kushimoto and Hashigui Iwa

Aug 10 | Evan | No Comments |

Hashigui-Iwa-JapanPhotoGuide-004The typhoon was getting closer but I still had much more to see in Wakayama and needed more time to try out the graduated ND filters along with the 10 stop ND filter!  The next place was Kushimoto and Hashigui Iwa, a cool rock formation just off the coast of Kushimoto.   It’s best to come here for sunrise, but it’s also quite nice during the afternoon when the late sun hits the rocks.  Also, when the tide goes out, you can get quite close to the rocks.

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When the water is calm you can get some great reflections from the rocks, but when it’s not, like when I was visiting Kushimoto, the 10 stop nd filter is great to get really smooth water!  Hashigui Iwa is easy to access with parking lot just in front of the location.

Hashigui-Iwa-JapanPhotoGuide-001 Hashigui-Iwa-JapanPhotoGuide-003About 20-30 minute drive from Hashigui Iwa is another great location for rock formations, Umikongo.  I was there just hours before the typhoon would be coming and it made an normally windy place, too windy to hold my tripod and camera steady, but at least I could check out the area and take a few photos with my phone.  You can see that with good light and good weather, Umikongo would certainly be a good place to take photos while visiting Wakayama.

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Nachi Taisha of Kumano Kodo

Aug 10 | Evan | No Comments |


Instead of going directly from Shirahama to Kushimoto, we went inland a little to first check out one of the most famous shrines on the Kumano Kodo, Kumano Nachi Taisha.  It’s not the easiest place to access without a car, but there are some bus you can take.  If you do drive, there are a lot of parking lots, mostly at the bottom of the stairs, but if you don’t want to walk a lot of stairs, you can pay a small fee to park at the top.  Having walked the stairs, it’s probably worth it to pay the fee!



As I mentioned before, my trip was cut short by soon to come typhoon, so I only spent about 30 minutes here, most of which was to photograph the pagoda with Nachi Falls, though there is plenty explore around the shrine grounds along with other shrines not too far by.  Take a look at Japan-Guide for more information of the surrounding area.  One place I didn’t see mentioned there though is an observatory, Nachisan Observatory (那智山見晴台) – though it literally translates to Nachisan Belvedere (did you know that a belvedere is a summerhouse or open-sided gallery, usually at rooftop level, commanding a fine view according to google?) that is just another 5 minute or so drive from Nachi Taisha.  Would have loved to come here for a sunrise!

Nachisan Observatory

Nachisan Observatory


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