Winter Photo Tour of Japan | Snow Monkeys!

May 12 | Evan | No Comments |

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Located in Nagano Prefecture, the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park in Yamanouchi has become a very popular place for tourists visiting Japan to include on their Japan tour itinerary.  If you google snow monkey Japan, you will find all sorts of articles and a few videos and then if you go to the images section of google, your heart will possibly melt from all the cute photos of these monkeys trying to stay warm during Winter in Japan!

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While the snow monkey park is manmade, the surrounding mountains are the monkeys natural habitat and you can usually position yourself to so it’s not obvious you are in a park.  The crowds of people have been increasing though, so sometimes it’s harder to avoid other humans in the photos with monkeys!  Although, the other humans sometimes provide some interesting photo opportunities as well, like this guy who thought it was a good idea to get close to the monkey here:

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It’s almost a perfect comic strip as the monkey’s reaction went from “What are you looking at?” to “Go away” to laughing to himself over how scared the human was!  Besides taking photos here I really enjoyed just observing the monkeys in the Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park…

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I saw many characteristics displayed by the monkeys that appeared to be similar to humans, for example, love (grooming, taking care of, hugging and a little more… intimate), curiosity (one baby monkey untied a person’s shoes for example), bullying (one monkey launched a surprise attack on another) and of course, the natural desire we have to get warm when it’s cold.   The peak season to visit the monkey park in Jigokudani is February as that’s when Yamanouchi tends to be the coldest and gets the most snow.  I went just at the beginning of March and the path still had quite a bit of snow/ice and the snow monkey park had some snow but you can see that it wasn’t covered in snow.  The snow monkey park may not be great for everyone visiting Japan, but as it can be done as a day trip from Tokyo, it certainly makes for a nice an unique opportunity to take photos in Japan!  Below are a few more photos of the snow monkeys in Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park.

Interested in visiting Japan and the snow monkey park with me?  Go ahead and contact me to get your escorted trip to Japan or photography tour of Japan started!  Also, Japan Photo Guide is partnering with Magic Is Photo Tours for a 2017 Winter Photography Tour of Japan.  At the time of this post, there are only 4 spots left for that trip!

 

Traveling around Kyushu | Tanada Rice Terraces

Aug 02 | Evan | No Comments |

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Tanada, or in English, rice terraces, are rice fields built into hillsides and mountains.  With the right timing and weather, they can provide excellent backgrounds for landscapes in Japan or other countries that have time.  Accessing the best rice terraces isn’t always easy and finding information in English is rare, so I’ve become really interested in creating a tour to focus on some beautiful rice terraces in Kyushu.  I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but this summer I visited a couple areas of Kyushu including Nagasaki, Sasebo and Karatsu, to scout out the area.  I knew my timing wouldn’t be good for photos as I went during the rainy season for Kyushu and also the rice had already started to grow tall in most parts of the rice terraces.  Most of my favorite photos of rice terraces are when the season first starts and you can only see water in the rice fields.  This makes for some magnificent imagery, especially when you get a great sunset.

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Even though this trip to Kyushu was mainly to scout the area and during the rainy season, I decided to practice some HDR (high dynamic range) photography.  The first time I really tried this was when I was in Japan during cherry blossom season on another tour of Japan.  You haven’t seen any of those photos because they didn’t come out very well!   This time, while I’m not thrilled with the results, they are at least good enough to share, considering it’s only my second attempt!  Most of these are HDR but there are a few iPhone panoramic photos mixed in as well as a few HDR of other random places I found along the way in Kyushu.

Interested in coming along or in more information about the Japan Photo Tanada Tour?  Contact me and I can fill you in!

 

Traveling around Kyushu | Karatsu

Aug 01 | Evan | No Comments |

It’s no secret that I love Kamikochi and Kyoto, but Karatsu certainly deserves to be on my short list of favorite areas in Japan.  Located in Saga Prefecture in Kyushu, about an hour or so away from Hakata in Fukuoka, lies the peaceful and beautiful ocean side city of Karatsu.  There isn’t much going on in terms of nightlife here, but lot’s and lot’s of beautiful scenery for great opportunities to take photos of Japan.  Compared to my days in Nagasaki and Sasebo, the weather was finally a little nicer and actually saw the sun… I wasn’t sure it actually was available in Kyushu!

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Like Nagasaki, Karatsu has both the ocean and mountains, which who doesn’t love having both?  Also, it’s a good base for visiting rice terraces, waterfalls (Mikaeri and Kannon Falls) and some nice beaches that if you didn’t know any better, looks like you are in the tropics.  Niji no Matsubara is the most famous beach in the area, but along the coast, there are a few other smaller ones that look like something out of a movie.  Besides that, we went up to Nanatsugama Caves which was pleasant as well.  I didn’t take any photos of it due to other places I wanted to visit, but Karatsu Castle is up on a hill and could certainly make for some interesting photos as well.  All in all, I’m a fan of Karatsu and certainly hope to go back for the upcoming rice terrace photography tour of Japan I’m planning.

Traveling around Kyushu | Sasebo

Jul 29 | Evan | No Comments |

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After visiting Nagasaki, the next place I wanted to scout for an upcoming rice terrace photo tour of Japan was Sasebo.  Like with Nagasaki, the weather in Sasebo was mostly rainy and didn’t really allow me to take photos of areas I wanted when I wanted to, but I could at least check out the area and some observatories of Kujukushima.  The Kujuku Islands are part of Saikai National Park and can be really beautiful and provide great photographic opportunities in Japan.  Like with my time in Nagasaki though, for the most part, I was stuck with strong rain.  Even so, I could see the potential for future photography tours of Kyushu that Sasebo and Kujuku Islands could provide.  Due to the bad weather, most of these photos were taken with just my iPhone.

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