Concluding our Photo Tour: Cherry Blossoms and Mt. Fuji at Fuji Five Lakes

Jul 01 | Evan | Comments Off on Concluding our Photo Tour: Cherry Blossoms and Mt. Fuji at Fuji Five Lakes |

Our 2023 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour culminated at our final destination, Fuji Five Lakes. This region contrasts the geography of our previous Fuji stop, Shizuoka, offering distinct views and experiences of Japan’s most revered peak, Mt. Fuji. Nestled in the northern foothills of the mountain, the Five Lakes area provides a tranquil, picturesque setting, with the lakes reflecting the majestic beauty of Mt. Fuji.

We based our stay in Kawaguchiko, the most accessible and developed of the Five Lakes. Our mission? To find and capture the elusive Mt. Fuji framed with vibrant cherry blossoms. The mountain, as is its wont, was a bit shy, revealing itself sporadically amidst the changing weather. However, patience rewarded us with stunning views from Lake Tanuki and Kawaguchiko, where the iconic peak, flanked by blooming sakura, was mirrored in the serene waters.

In addition to our photographic pursuits, we immersed ourselves in local festivities, attending a cherry blossom festival bustling with local vendors and food stalls. The atmosphere was lively, filled with the joyous spirit of the season, a celebration of spring’s arrival, and the transient beauty of the cherry blossoms.

We also paid a visit to the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, dedicated to the work of Itchiku Kubota, a master of kimono design. The museum showcased a stunning collection of his intricate kimono designs, each piece a testament to the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into traditional Japanese textiles.

After nearly two weeks of exploring and tasting the wide variety of Japanese cuisine, we took a slight detour on the culinary front. Cravings for a taste of home led us to one of my favorite burger joints in Japan, and it’s safe to say that everyone enthusiastically approved. It was a comforting slice of familiarity amidst our exotic journey, a reminder of the balance between exploration and comfort.

Our time at Fuji Five Lakes brought the 2023 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour to a fitting close. As we looked back on the unique experiences, the vibrant cherry blossoms, the stunning landscapes, and the unforgettable portraits, we were reminded of the beauty of Japan and the power of photography to capture these transient moments. As we bid farewell to Mt. Fuji, we carried with us not just photographs but stories, experiences, and memories that would last a lifetime.

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Japan’s cherry blossom season in 2024! Reach out now to secure your spot on our guided photography tour, or explore our 2023 cherry blossom tour of Japan posts to get a glimpse of the unforgettable experiences that await you.

A Photographic Journey through Japan’s Landscapes and Culture

Nov 29 | Evan | Comments Off on A Photographic Journey through Japan’s Landscapes and Culture |

In the fall of 2022, I had the unique opportunity to lead a photography tour of Japan for a small group of passionate photographers. This was the first photography tour of Japan I was able to lead post COVID and I couldn’t have been more excited! Our journey took us to some of the most picturesque locations across Japan, from the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene landscapes of Fuji Five Lakes to the cultural hub of Kyoto. As a photographer myself, I was thrilled to share my knowledge and experience with this talented group, and together we captured some unforgettable moments and memories.

Our first stop was Tokyo, a vibrant and energetic city that offers endless opportunities for street photography. Japan’s bustling metropolis, Tokyo, is a photographer’s paradise. From the serene Showa Memorial Park to the neon-lit skyscraper district of Shinjuku, the city offers a variety of stunning sights and experiences to capture. From the classic architecture of the Imperial Palace to the neon lights of Shinjuku, Tokyo never fails to inspire. We explored some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, visited a Japanese chef’s home for a private cooking lesson and meal. The first stop on our photography journey was the Showa Memorial Park. Located in the suburbs of Tokyo, the park is a peaceful and serene oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s a great spot for nature lovers who appreciate the beauty of autumn leaves and cherry blossoms in the spring. As we walked around the park, we captured some amazing moments of locals and tourists alike enjoying their day out. And the wide open spaces allowed me to experiment with different angles and perspectives to create some truly unique shots.

Next up was Fuji Five Lakes, a breathtaking mountainous region that boasts some of Japan’s most iconic landscapes. We had a chance to photograph the stunning Lake Saiko with its turquoise waters and rich foliage, as well as Lake Tanuki and its picturesque reflections of Mount Fuji. We also visited the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, where we marveled at the intricate beauty of the kimono artistry.

After taking photos of Mt Fuji from the Fuji Five Lakes, we transferred to Hakone via Gotemba. Unfortunately, our photography tour was met with a lot of rain in Hakone but we at least had a nice sunrise while visiting Hakone Shrine.

Nagoya was our next stop, where we immersed ourselves in Japan’s rich cultural heritage. We visited the Nagoya Castle, a magnificent example of feudal architecture that has stood for over 400 years. We also toured the Korankei Valley, a magical forest that puts on a dazzling display of autumn leaves each year.

Our stay in Okayama was equally inspiring, as we explored the Okayama Castle and the tranquil gardens of Kurashiki. We also visited the Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, one of the few surviving mountain castles in Japan. In the autumn seasons is the best chance to photograph the sea of clouds along with the castle in Okayama prefecture. We went two mornings, the first morning we had too many clouds but the second morning was a nice experience and provided photographic opportunities with this amazing Japanese castle.

Our final destination was the ancient capital of Kyoto, a city that never ceases to amaze with its beauty and charm. We visited some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the Fushimi Inari Shrine. We also explored some of Kyoto’s hidden alleys and backstreets, discovering the city’s intricate architecture and rich history.

We had a chance to witness the traditional geisha culture up close, as we attended a private portrait session with a geiko. The trip concluded with a farewell dinner where we shared our favorite photos and memories from the tour.

Leading a photography tour of Japan was a truly unforgettable experience, and I feel grateful to have shared it with such an incredible group of photographers. Japan’s landscapes and culture are truly unparalleled, and I hope that our journey has inspired others to explore this magical country through the lens of a camera. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the tranquil gardens of Kyoto, Japan’s beauty is truly beyond compare. I look forward to returning to this incredible country and discovering even more hidden treasures along the way. Thank you to all the participants of our photography tour for making it such a special and rewarding journey. I hope that everyone has taken away plenty of amazing photos and memories from this experience.

Thinking about visiting Japan on a guided tour? Whether you want a private photography tour, a group tour of Japan, reach out to Japan Photo Guide to help create the experience and trip of a lifetime in Japan.

Photographing Mt. Fuji from Yamanashi Prefecture

Jan 14 | Evan | No Comments |

If you had some time to already look through Japan Photo Guide’s past photography tours of Japan, you probably noticed that he has many beautiful photos of Mt. Fuji at Fuji Five Lakes. As you might have already guessed, Fuji Five Lakes are the lakes around Mt. Fuji in Yamanashi Prefecture, which are known for the outstanding locations to see and photograph the mountain. In this article, let’s discuss photographing Mt. Fuji from the Yamanashi Prefecture and let’s find out what’s so special about touring and capturing the beauty of Japan in Yamanashi. 

Fuji Five Lakes

As introduced already, Fuji Five Lakes are the lakes around Mt. Fuji, which stretches over the northern side of the mountain on the Yamanashi Prefecture. These lakes include Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Yamanashiko, Shojiko, and Mototsuko and are said to be the best places to view Mt. Fuji as well as photographing the mountain. Japan Photo Guide’s photography tours also visit the Fuji Five Lakes almost annually where he and his guests can photograph stunning images of the mountain. Just look at the photograph he captured at one of the lakes at Kawaguchiko below. Yes, you can photograph a beautiful reflection of Mt. Fuji in the lake at this location. 

Of all the lakes, if you are new to Japan and not sure how to get around, the easiest and the most accessible lake is Kawaguchiko. It is the most developed of all the lake areas. However, if you join Japan Photo Guide’s Japan photo tour, you don’t need to worry about how to get around etc. by yourself. He will take you to other lakes as well so you get to photograph many faces of the mountain! For example, if you are curious to know how the Mt. Fuji looks like from Shojiko, take a look here at the 2015 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan!  Additionally, during 2017 Cherry Blossom Tours of Japan, Japan Photo Guide took his tour not only to Kawaguchiko, but also to Shojiko and Yamanakako. 

Btw before going forward, let’s have a mini Japanese lesson here! 

If you look at 5 lakes listed already, you might have already noticed that all of the lakes end in “ko.” This stands for “lake” in Japanese, thus you know it is a lake we are talking about. If you are wondering what is the Japanese character, it is “こ” in hiragana, and “湖” in kanji. If you are visiting a lake, you will see this character “湖” so you might like to keep an eye on it when you are looking for a lake in Japan! 

The best location to photograph “sakasa fuji” 

Have you ever heard of a Japanese term “sakasa fuji?” Sakasa in Japanese means “upside down.” Thus, sakasa fuji is the Mt. Fuji, which is reflected in the lake of Kawaguchiko and is one the most popular Mt. Fuji photographers enjoy capturing. Japan Photo Guide has of course photographed sakasa fuji many times and has taken his photography tours of Japan to Kawaguchiko annually. Below are some of Japan Photo Guide’s sakasa fuji images as well as those who have joined his previous Japan photo tours. As you can imagine, this is something you definitely have to go close enough to Mt. Fuji in Yamanashi at these lakes to view and photograph a flipped/reflected mountain in the beautiful body of water.

Photo created by and courtesy of Dan Leffel

For those of you who cannot wait till the photo tour of Japan to see sakasa fuji, why don’t you check out the live camera dedicated to Kawaguchiko’s sakasa fuji here

Tell me more about Yamanashi! 

Of course, there is more to learn about Yamanashi! The best thing about the photo tour of Japan is how you can enjoy photographing all the beauties of Japan, but also actually feel and experience Japan as you tour. So let’s learn some of Yamanashi’s delicacies and other unique spots you want to know before you make your way to Japan with Japan Photo Guide. 

If you have already visited Japan, many of you know that fruits in Japan are so sweet and delicious. Yamanashi offers a lot of fresh fruits such as strawberries, cherries, peaches, pears, and grapes to just name a few. It is because Yamanashi of all Japan has the longest daylight hours, thus providing ample Sun for sweet fruits to grow. Of all these fruits, Yamanashi grows the most grapes in Japan and they are in season now during August to October. Yes, as you have guessed, since Yamanashi grows the most grapes, there are wineries in Yamanashi too! Wine making started in Japan during the Meiji Era (Jan 25th 1868 – Jul 30th, 1912) and today, Yamanashi’s wine is internationally well known for its rich taste, which matches perfectly with washoku, Japanese food.  

And for those of you who enjoy outdoors, Yamanashi offers many outdoor activities such as fruit picking, camping, BBQ, golfing, and even riding on an Olympic road cycle race track! It may not have the Ocean, but Yamanashi still offers abundant nature, which is so fun to tour and photograph the beautiful nature including lakes, waterfalls, and depending on the season, you get to see beautiful cherry blossoms in spring and colorful changing colors of leaves in autumn. 

Photo created by and courtesy of Daniel Leffel


Just by going over what Yamanashi has to offer, I am getting hungry for Yamanashi’s delicacies and dreaming of the fresh air by Kawaguchiko looking at sakasa fuji. When you are in Yamanashi, you need to be always ready to photograph Mt. Fuji because as well as the famous sakasa fuji, there will be many faces of the mountain with unexpected collaborations that Yamanashi has to offer. If it is during cherry blossom season or rich summer green with blue sky reason or even during vividly colored autumn leaves season and snow white winter season, Yamanashi always provides picture perfect locations for us photographers. 

If you are now more than eager to join Japan Photo Guide’s tour in 2021 or 2022, find out more details about the photo tour of Japan from here

2019 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour | Mt Fuji

Jul 18 | Evan | No Comments |

I’m always a little anxious when Mt. Fuji is included on the plan for our photography tours as mountain can be quite shy hiding behind clouds days at a time. For the 2019 photography tour of Japan during cherry blossom season, we had 4 nights planned in the Mt. Fuji area. Two nights in Shizuoka Prefecture and 2 nights in Yamanashi Prefecture.

It’s certainly possible that we could have had 4 nights with no mountain to photograph but luckily, Mt. Fuji was kind enough to make a few appearances on different days during our photography tour of Japan! While we had Mt. Fuji in view during the tour, the cold weather that helped hold the cherry blossom earlier in the photography tour of Japan, finally caught up to us. The cherry blossoms around Mt. Fuji were just a few days before full bloom so we had to search for the few cherry blossom trees that were ahead of the rest. The good thing about Mt. Fuji though, even without cherry blossoms, there are always fantastic photographic opportunities.

The two photos below are courtesy of and created by one of our group’s photographers, Daniel Leffel. Take a look at Daniel’s website for more excellent photography not only of Japan but all over the word.

Fuji Five Lakes Area

The 2019 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour took a small group of photographers to Japan. We started in Tokyo and continued to Hiroshima, Miyajima, Himeji Castle, Kyoto and Mt. Fuji from Shizuoka and from Fuji Five Lakes. Here is the trip report from the 2019 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan and the 2018 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan. The 2020 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan is already planned and live! Limited spots are available for the 2020 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan, with first booking already reserved!

Here is a gallery of more photos taken of Mt. Fuji during the 2019 cherry blossom photography tour of Japan.

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